Sometime in the last month you have done a Google search for “your city + hotel” and said “Whoa, what is that?” If not, go open a new tab, try it and then come back to the party.
Notice the new image results across the top of the page, complete with ratings and reviews? Google has rolled out the “Local Carousel” for searches that have clear intent to find local businesses. Throughout 2013, Local Carousel was popping up in beta testing in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), particularly for attractions and events. The full-blown U.S. rollout was confirmed in June, 2013. This new format appears along the top of the page and combines a photo (from Google+) with (Google) ratings/reviews, business name and address. Accommodation searches, in addition to restaurants and attractions, are particularly impacted by this update.
This new layout is not just meant to be more helpful for users; it underscores just how important it is for a resort or hotel to claim its Google+ listing, encourage Google reviews and make certain its best visuals and most current information is in its Google+ listing. This is the best way to put your best foot forward, so to speak. With the roll out of Local Carousel, Google commands even more of the page real estate in SERPs for resorts and hotels.
Local Carousel underscores just how important it is for a resort or hotel to claim its Google+ listing.
Everything within the red box [shown below] is Google-controlled content – Local Carousel, ads, map and Google Hotel Finder. Only one pure organic search result listing makes it above the fold and it is from TripAdvisor. Local Carousel has become a property’s only real opportunity to be featured in these results without paid participation (such as Google AdWords and Google Hotel Finder).
Don’t expect to see a spike in organic search traffic from “your_city + hotel” keywords, even if your property is one of the first featured. If you click on a business in the Local Carousel – surprise! – you do not go to that business’ website. Instead, you go to more Google data, another SERP for the “name of that business + city.”
This page typically features the business’ Google Knowledge graph information in the right column and also provides another impression opportunity for all Google advertisers who are buying that business’ brand name. Very clever for Google’s ad revenue, but not terribly efficient for the user.
Want to get geeky? See the impact of Google’s Local Carousel in your analytics by looking at traffic from the “hotel name + city” keyword combination. This is the keyword combination Google automatically searches when a user clicks on a Carousel result and an indicator of traffic that is coming from Local Carousel. The first chart below shows the increase in site traffic from “hotel name + city” over the last four months.
Carousel launched on the third week of June, 2013. Also keep in mind that you may see a decline in traffic from “city + hotel” keywords, as users click on results from the Local Carousel rather that the classic organic results further down the page. The second chart shows the change in “city + hotel” traffic for the same property.
Figure 1 "resort name + city" organic search traffic
Figure 2 "city + hotel" organic search traffic
- Make sure the Google+ listing for your property is claimed and your best photos and most accurate information are filled in. Google looks here first for local carousel and knowledge graph information.
- Your star ratings in the Google search results are based on Google reviews, not TripAdvisor. Plan a strategy for growing your Google ratings.
- Check your analytics for the impacts of Local Carousel on your organic search traffic flow.