On June 18, Google announced their interactive “carousel” of local results on desktops. While I haven’t seen the local carousel for law firms yet, it’s probable that these results are coming. If you rely, at least in part, on local search for business, the local carousel may have a significant impact on your traffic. Here are some things you should know.
When you see a local carousel result, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is how prominently the carousel appears:
It’s also worth noting what happens when a user clicks on a local carousel result. In short, it modifies the search to a brand search for the carousel result you click:
Since it appears that Google is using the same location prominence ranking algorithm that has been used in Google Maps, it’s helpful to understand how Google creates local business listings. Fortunately, David Mihm has done an excellent job of breaking it all down:
The carousel results might also make branded Adwords advertising more important. As Mike Blumenthal points out:
Once someone starts clicking through the images and Google returns the branded results with ads just below the carousel, anyone who hasn’t taken out Adwords on their brand runs the risk of their search being disrupted by a more visible local competitor. This has always been true but in the limited geography available with the carousel the competitor ad becomes a highly visible obstacle for any local business.
For those of you who monitor local non-branded keyword traffic, you’re likely to see a drop in these visits. As Greg Gifford explains:
If a user conducts a non-branded search, clicks a Carousel listing, and then clicks that venue’s organic listing, the modified branded query is what gets reported to Google Analytics.
Whether the local carousel comes to the online legal space or not, I think the carousel is pretty telling about Google’s direction. In a nutshell, they want you stay at Google. Which is not surprising and is consistent with other moves they have made.
Regardless of how you feel about Google’s direction, if you rely on the search engine for business, you need to understand how to play their game.
Which, when it comes to local carousel results means:
- Creating or claiming a Google+ local page for your office(s) and, perhaps, each attorney.
- Closely following the Google Places quality guidelines.
- Utilizing imagery on your Google+ local pages.
- Increasing traditional local search ranking factors (i.e. citations, reviews, etc).
If Google rolls the local carousel out for law firms, it will be interesting to see how attorney respond. Since the local carousel is highly image-driven, attorneys that post enticing images are likely to win clicks from local results. As we’ve discussed in the past, there might be some concerns about posting office images for some practices.
Would you be willing to add photos of your firm’s insides? What would you share?
Have you seen local carousel results yet? What did you think? Have you noticed any local carousel results for searches related to law firms? If so, please feel free to share.