If you’ve been relying on Google’s search carousel to find local restaurants, museums, hotels and more, get ready to try something new. Google has removed the search carousel in favor of the “Local Pack” for certain search categories. The previous carousel only lasted for about one year. While we’re not sure if they plan to make this a permanent change, it definitely shakes things up on the search engine results page (SERP). Read our overview of Google’s Local Pack update and how it affects business reviews and SERP rankings.
The Old Google Local Carousel
The Local Pack display of organic search listings shows right below the first AdWords results. For example, if you’re searching for hotels, you’ll see reviews and pricing information for the top ranked listings (usually the top 3 or 4). You can always see more listings than those displayed, but it requires clicking the icon at the bottom of the Local Pack scheme to take you to a full SERP showing business info, reviews, maps and prices. On this full SERP page, these listings can be sorted by price, rating and hotel class.
The New Google Local Pack
As you can imagine, it’s even more critical to be included in the top local results since Google narrowed them down from the carousel days of 8-10 listings. These Local Pack organic search results are based on Google’s algorithms, and they seem to especially apply to the hospitality industry, including keywords pertaining to accommodations, resorts, hotels and more.
Since the Local Pack is shown below AdWords and above organic listings, this forces the user to scroll further down the page to view the organic listings. If a business is not showing up in the Local Pack and its organic rankings aren’t top-tier, then a decrease in traffic will likely occur. This is especially troublesome for smaller companies competing with bigger brands.
The Importance of Reviews & Ranking Opportunities
In light of these recent Google changes, there are opportunities for brand awareness and ranking your business in the SERP. Google, TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews are continuously gaining traction in search results, so businesses should be optimizing for these and other social media sites. As the world of mobile devices continues to grow, more and more people will be willing to share their views with the social media community right after an interaction with a particular business. By being transparent in your online social media profiles and responding to customer comments and concerns, whether good or bad, it shows accountability in your business and that you are willing to provide good customer service.