Google’s ‘Local Carousel’ Comes to PC with Mixed Results

google-maps-iphone-iconIt has been on tablets for six months. But now the “local carousel” has come to PC search results. According to the official announcement, “When you search Google for restaurants, bars or other local places on your desktop, you’ll see an interactive ‘carousel’ of local results at the top of the page.”

Right now it’s US only and only for select categories of businesses. The presentation of content in this horizontally scrolling “bar” is made possible by the same kinds of structured data behind Google’s “knowledge graph.” Indeed, local carousel is a subset of knowledge graph.

I don’t think it works on the PC in the way that it does on the iPad. But you be the judge. Below are “before and after” screen captures for local restaurant and hotel searches (click to enlarge).

Sushi San Francisco

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.02.48 PM

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.01.59 PM

Hotels New York

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.06.11 PM

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.04.47 PM

The carousel works well on the iPad because of the inclination to swipe horizontally on the touchscreen. To create more “organic space on the page,” users can also flip the tablet into portrait mode. However that can’t be done on the PC.

The local results carousel is visually more interesting than conventional local search results (“ten blue links”). And the lucky businesses that appear there have a significant visibility advantage over others lower on the page.

However despite being more visually interesting, the overall page is less useful now. Organic results are pushed further down and the whole page has a “disjointed” appearance. The local carousel hasn’t been well integrated. Perhaps a reformatting or different treatment of some of the design elements (removing the dark background for one) would address most of my complaints.

On the practical side of things, Mike Blumenthal has a nice discussion of some of the issues from a business owner perspective.

This new treatment of local information will likely give rise to “carousel SEO.” Marketers and agencies will now be scheming about how to get businesses or their clients into the carousel.

What are your thoughts on the new Google SERP? Do you like what Google has done or do you believe, as I do, that it doesn’t quite work as presented (on the PC)?

You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed.

6 Responses to “Google’s ‘Local Carousel’ Comes to PC with Mixed Results”

  1. Malcolm Lewis says at

    Very easy way to scan many more businesses with (arguably) the two most important attributes front and center: an image and their aggregate rating. Adding simple sort and filter options would be even better. And an option to expand down to show several rows would be great too. On a related note, I like how they have started grouping images by category on the image search with a similar carousel approach. Eg: http://goo.gl/YZ31d

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    Agree that it offers more information “at a glance” however it needs to be adjusted/modified to really integrate nicely with the SERP in the PC version

  3. Jeffrey Magner says at

    Greg I agree that modifications are needed! What modifications should they make? More info should be added below the images perhaps. What would you think is the most important piece of info that should go there? I think it’s the address. If I’m looking for a hotel or restaurant I would want to know where it is in relation to where I am – especially on mobile devices.

  4. Google's New Search Carousel | CountyWebsite.com Blog says at

    […] Google’s ‘Local Carousel’ Comes to PC with Mixed Results, by Greg Sterling: http://screenwerk…. […]

  5. Werribee Concreting says at

    Sort of related to this has been a complaint going around the internet that Google’s “organic” places results for searches on hotels actually contain pricing data and links not to the hotel itself, but instead to pricing sites like expedia …. seems pretty evil if google is taking a local businesses google + page and linking it through to paying advertisers like expedia!

    Greg something that you might want to look into.

  6. Greg Sterling says at

    And that would be something that Google would have to disclose if it were going on: http://searchengineland.com/ftc-search-engine-disclosure-164722

    Thanks for the tip. 

  7. Werribee Lanscaping says at

    No probs … here’s the rant I saw about this issue: http://www.smartcompany.com.au/the-seo-expert/056111-video-top-two-things-i-hate-about-google-right-now.html

    Yes Google do “disclose” it, but they place the ads in the organic section, and don’t give the local SMB a chance to add in their own content. It stinks!

Leave a Reply