After being in use for more than a year, Google has dropped the local Carousel display. The new local results for search phrases such as restaurants and hotels uses a three-pack of organic listings with a small picture or map image next to each result. There is no phone number to call listed within the result.
Here’s a new local search result for ‘Spokane Hotels':
As you can see above, the three-pack is a link to ‘More (…restaurants, hotels, etc.)’ that opens up an expanded list of choices in a similar display format as the new three-pack.
While the new results give searchers significantly less choices of visible venues than before, the new results do provide users a cleaner interface and easier access to information or online booking functionality. And the ads for these types of results have returned to the most prominent spots where there is AdWords bidding.
Here’s how Google Page 1 looked with the local Carousel:
The Death (For Now) of the Local Carousel
The horizontal Carousel was certainly attention grabbing in Google as it closely clustered more than half a dozen results going across the top of the search results in a black background, appearing above the ads. It contained information that included the business name, an image of the business, and the Google user review rating.
However, this doesn’t mean the Carousel is totally gone from Google, at least not yet. For non-commercial search terms such as ‘U.S. Presidents’, the Carousel is currently being used. Searchers may get varying results depending on their location as the update rolls out.
The Image Dilemma in Search
The loss of the local carousel and all the pictures of the business also follows on other recent developments in Google search such as the loss of Google Authorship and less video results in the search results. Despite the popularity of the visual emphasis in social media and on the Web as a whole, Google has shown a preference for a cleaner, more text-based interface.
As Google has streamlined the appearance of the search result over the past year, it will be interesting to see if Google eventually starts allowing more ads to appear with images. Google previously used a tan background behind search ads to help differentiate them from organic listings. Google now uses a white background behind ads with a small orange ‘Ad’ button on the left side of the listing.
Mobile Focused But What Changes May Mean
The new local three-pack for these types of search phrases increases white space and reduces the amount of visible information for users with a larger screen. Having less choices is not necessarily a better user experience but it does make it quick and easy for searchers on mobile devices, who get the same results as desktop/laptop users. As mobile search traffic continues to grow, Google is making the mobile experience a priority.
It’s possible that with the three ads that typically appear at the top of commercial searches followed by the new three-pack box of results, could be confounding to searchers to know which are the natural results.
One thing for sure is that the Google search results are ever-evolving. Just last week we published a post ‘10 Ways to Get Onto Page 1 of Google‘, which included the Carousel showing the same ‘Spokane Hotels’ result. We’ll update that post soon.