If you’ve recently done a Google search looking for a local restaurant, you may have noticed something new on the search engine results page. In mid-June, Google released a new feature they’re calling the Knowledge Graph Carousel.
It looks something like this:
This feature was only available on restaurants at first, but we’ve started to see it roll out for other niches from fishing shops to hotels and resorts.
Now for the big question…
How does this affect search?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know all the ramifications these changes will have on local search in the coming months and years, but we can speculate a bit based on what we know about Google and from the data we’ve already collected.
Bigger Emphasis on Reviews
With the insertion of Google+ reviews (powered by Zagat), it’s going to become increasingly important for brands to manage their online reputation. While some of this can be managed online, much of this “reputation management” has to happen at the business itself.
Because of this trend, we believe businesses will start to see more feedback from their agencies about changes they need to make in the store based on data collected from online reviews. This is a huge but necessary shift from an industry that tends to stay away from what happens inside the brick and mortar shops of their clients.
Less Traffic to Client Websites
Contrary to what one might think, when users click on the listings in the carousel, they will not be taken to the business’ website. Instead, they will be redirected to a search engine results page specifically for that business with information from the busienss’ Google+ page.
Another thing we’re noticing on queries with the local carousel is that Google is no longer serving up these restaurants in the normal search results.
These two factors paired together mean that less people will be making their way to the client’s website when they do a search. This will require a change in how we measure success for these business’ with local queries as well as an adjustment in strategy that will mean a lot more work off-site.
Which brings us to our next effect…
No More Ignoring Google+
If you’re still one of those people (or agencies) that refuses to use Google+ because “it will never be Facebook,” STOP – before you put yourself (and potentially your clients) out of business. Google is pulling their information for the local carousel directly from Google+ pages. Now that they’ve kicked businesses off the first page for searches with the carousel, Google+ is your only chance to be there.
It sucks. It’s not fair. No one cares. Deal with it.
This is not to mention that Google+ has an entire other suite of benefits for SEO including authorship.
It’s time to collaborate with your social media team
As more and more of these new features involved Google+ and social signals become part of SEO, it’s becoming a necessity to have open collaboration between social media and SEO teams. Gone are the days when we could sit in our own silos ignoring each other. Slowly but surely, social and SEO are becoming one.
If you haven’t been collaborating with your social media team already, schedule a meeting as soon as possible to plan how you’re going to tackle these new issues. It’s better to be ahead of the curve than trying to catch up later.
If you’d like to find out more about how Atomic can help your local business with SEO and Google+, please contact us today.