On June 18, 2013, Google announced a new way to view restaurant results in Google. It’s called Google Local Carousel.
It’s an interesting way to see search results. Instead of blue links, you get a scroll bar across the top of your search results page with a visual element and some other information. The thing is, not everyone is even noticing it. Of the handful of searchers who do notice it, only a few seem to like it.
One of the big questions in the minds of searchers appears to be a lack of understanding in how the carousel is populated.
If users don’t understand how the carousel is populated – that is, what criteria Google uses to choose the restaurants included in the carousel – then it may not be useful. Another valid concern users raised was this: There appears to be no way to narrow the results in the carousel by restaurant type and cuisine preferences. Maybe such a change is forthcoming.
For local businesses, the big question is whether or not the carousel is useful for delivering more traffic to websites. I don’t see any evidence yet that this is taking place.
It’s likely that Google doesn’t want restaurants targeting inclusion into the carousel. Secrecy is their way of keeping the carousel – unlike organic search results – pure.