If you’ve done searches on Google lately, it’s probable that you’ve noticed a new type of search result – the image+description+price/location/rating results carousel that sits right at the top of the search results page.
There are a number of things that make this new development interesting.
Firstly, for now at least (although this is likely to change very soon), organic results (i.e. those that aren’t paid for) are appearing in the carousel in order of ranking.
So if your site ranks number 1 for a particular search, you’ll be first in the carousel, starting on the left (think about how people read). Then whichever site is organically second will be next on the carousel, and so forth.
There are, however, some signs that paid-for (Adwords-campaign sites) are starting to creep into the carousel – this is a development that shouldn’t surprise us… this is, after all, the Google money model, and we should expect this trend to increase to the point where it is the status quo.
But for now at least, the organic sites are gaining greater visibility in what is a more informative search result (mainly as a result of the accompanying image).
Secondly, the style of navigating this carousel – left to right, rather than top to bottom – adds a whole new dimension to online user behaviour. Think about how used to scrolling down you are, no matter what device you’re on… and yet scrolling sideways almost seems to make more sense.
What does this mean for your business website?
Well, for now it’s hard to quantify until we have enough search data for clients that have this sort of listing.
In the positive sense, it does mean that organically strong sites are now right at the top of the page (even if they’re fourth or fifth in the carousel). This means that Click Through Rates (CTR) should increase, which is great.
There is also the chance to make the most of your Google Business listing – this, it seems, is where Google is pulling the bulk of the data that makes up your carousel listing, so if you’ve got a Business listing (and you should have!) then instead of relying on it being the one that comes up on the right-hand column in a search result, it now becomes part of a standard result for a search that you’re well-optimised for.
It’s not all sunshine and roses…
As with all new things, there are some downsides…
For now, at least, if you click on a carousel result, it just opens up another search result page with more specific links to that business and business topic. So a visitor then has to click another link to actually get into your website – two clicks instead of one… that’s a departure from the kind of efficiency we’re used to on Google, and opens the door for lower CTR should the visitor get distracted in the process.
It seems Google still has some way to go with this new feature from a User Experience perspective, but we should expect improvements imminently, and with it the move towards the carousel becoming premium-only real estate.
The learning from this? Ensure you’ve got great SEO, a Google Business listing that is comprehensive, up-to-date and entirely accurate, and makes use of great images and reviews/ratings… and prepare yourself for the day when you’ll need to pay into an Adwords or Display campaign to get into the carousel results.
Search Engine Land covers this topic to show how the carousel will help you expand the search results.
If you would like more information about how to ensure your business site is getting the best visibility for search, please contact us or call 01223 550800.