Google Drops Local Carousel Search Results

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':

new local results Google Drops Local Carousel Search Results

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:

local carousel Google Drops Local Carousel Search Results

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.

presidents carousel Google Drops Local Carousel Search Results

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.

Which Local Google Search Result Do You Like Better?

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Ascent is a Google AdWords Certified Partner

I have been using Google AdWords for several years but have now had the opportunity to pass the Google AdWords certification and earn the Google AdWords Certified Partner designation. Google AdWords certification is a professional accreditation from Google that demonstrates proficient in basic and advanced aspects of AdWords.

As an accredited Google Partner, Ascent is now listed as a Partner Agency on Google.com/partners and are provided with usage of a Google Partner badge.

google partner Ascent is a Google AdWords Certified Partner

Certification Requirements

Becoming Google AdWords Certified is more than just passing certification tests. In addition to passing the AdWords Fundamentals exam and either the Advanced Search or Advanced Play exams, certification requirements includes management of AdWords account spend of at least $10,000 over the past 90 days.

What Does This Mean For Clients?

We have been hard at work setting up and managing successful client AdWords accounts for years. But as our client ad spend grew and online trust factors become increasing important, we made becoming AdWords certification a priority.

Being a certified Google Partner means we follow best Google practices and are an accredited online marketing professional. We also get access to special events and training from Google, industry research, Google product updates, and access to the Google Partners community.

When there are new features available in AdWords, we’ll identify them for clients and help them take advantage of opportunities in the Google search and display network. We also get access to AdWords promotional offers for existing and prospective clients to help them save money on ad spend.

Want Better Performance From Your Google Ads?

ppc audit Ascent is a Google AdWords Certified Partner
ppc services Ascent is a Google AdWords Certified Partner

We have helped lawyers, doctors, realtors, and Shark Tank winners set up and optimize their Google ad campaigns and we can help you too. With our experience and certified accreditation, you can rest assured Ascent will expertly manage your pay-per-click search and display campaigns.

We are also experienced with Bing Ads campaign management and can offer a $100 introductory credit on ad spend in the Bing/Yahoo network. Contact us for a free quote or to schedule a PPC audit.


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10 Ways to Get Onto Page 1 of Google

When people think of being on page 1 of Google, they usually think about a prominent place in the organic or natural search results. There’s no denying that being in a top organic spot is powerful especially as Web traffic increasingly goes mobile.

However, organic search is not the only way to get onto page 1 of Google. It’s important to understand their are many other ways to claim real estate on the first page of a search phrase valuable for your business.

google search results 10 Ways to Get Onto Page 1 of Google

1. Organic Search.

It’s said that the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google and with good reason. The vast majority of searchers don’t get past page one. In fact, as data shows, many don’t even get past what’s above-the-fold on page one.

Organic search results are calculated into an algorithm containing over 200 factors but the domain authority relative to competitors and the quality of the website’s external links are usually critical in gaining a top spot.

Organic results referencing your business can include beyond just what is on your website. It can be from your social profiles, presentations, guest posts, directory listings, or other citations.

2. Local Pack.

The local pack appears in Google search when a user is searching for a keyword phrase with local results. Based on IP addresses, Google knows the area searchers are using their device and their intent is to show them the most relevant, local results.

The pack helps group results near them on a map and then lists the results and addresses of the businesses in alphabetical order. The nice thing about the local pack is there are usually at least 3 listings and the local pack usually follows the first or second result of organic search. Therefore, having your business included in the local pack is a great place to be.

The Google ‘Pigeon’ update that rolled out in summer 2014 caused some changes in pack results. There are less map results than before and not as many 5-7 pack listings as there used to be. Also, since the ‘Pigeon’ update more directory type websites have been included in the local pack.

Local pack results take into account factors beyond organic search but being prominent in organic search can increase your likelihood of being in the local pack so it’s a win-win if you get both. Other local factors such as customer reviews on your Google business page and other sources are helpful.

local carousel 10 Ways to Get Onto Page 1 of Google

3. Local Carousel.

The Local Carousel appears in some local search results such as restaurants or hotels. As Google is ever-evolving carousel results have changed over time. Here’s a screenshot of how a carousel may appears.

The Local Carousel is the first results shown, even above the paid ads making them very valuable real estate. It’s important to include quality photos on your Google Business Page and that they look good if cropped to a square so that Google is more likely to pull in a photo you want shown. The Carousel also shows Google reviews for the business, making having a variety of positive reviews all the more crucial.

4. AdWords.

Yep, ads are big part of page 1 of Google search for commercial terms. The AdWords ads typically show first in the results, above the organics, which make can them very valuable places to be. Ads may take up the first three results and then also the right hand column of page 1.

AdWords has its own algorithm to determine ad rank so the results shown aren’t connected to the organic or local results. AdWords uses a pay-per-click bidding system and also calculates Quality Score, which impacts ad position.

5. News.

Sites included in Google News should offer timely reporting on matters that are important or interesting to our audience. We generally do not include how-to articles, advice columns, job postings, or strictly informational content such as weather forecasts and stock data.
– Google

Google produces ‘News’ results and has a separate category from its search engine for just news stories. However, ‘News’ results can also be interspersed with regular search results.

Google sources the ‘News’ results from a wide variety of websites but not just any website can be included in Google News. The News results reward freshness for websites that cover developing stories and new information.

The quote above from Google discusses how they may determine which sites to include. Google accepts blogs, press releases sites and even satire into Google News. Check out their ‘Getting Into Google News‘ page for more details.

legal zoom google page 1024x602 10 Ways to Get Onto Page 1 of Google

6. Google+ Page.

Being on Google+ and implementing ‘Authorship’ used to be one of the best ways to get into page 1 of Google as you could have your profile picture next to the result. This was a significant advantage over a text-only listings and resulted in more clicks to results with pictures.

However, Google has since removed the Authorship feature from most search results. This was a loss for business owners, bloggers, and marketers who had embraced it and had seen added traffic and exposure as a result.

The Google+ profile picture will still appear in search results if you are logged into Google and there is relevant content for the search result from a person you are following in Google+.

7. Publisher.

Similar to Authorship, Publisher is for companies that have Google+ business pages. Publisher does not appear within the natural search results but instead shows on the lower right hand column of page one. Publisher shows the companies most recent Google+ post but you must follow the company’s Google+ page for the Publisher result to appear.

8. Google Business Page.

If you enter the name of a company into Google search, the right hand column will show a photo, their location on a map, reviews, and contact information for the business. If you are logged into Google and follow the company, Publisher will appear below the Google Business Page information.

Also, if your business does not yet have a website, Google will provide the Google+ Business Page as the clickable link for the business.

cargo glide google search 10 Ways to Get Onto Page 1 of Google

9. YouTube Videos.

Videos used to be more frequently seen on page one of Google search but that has changed in 2014. But it is still possible to rank on page one of Google for a YouTube video. Google Hangouts can also be used which stream live and are connected to a YouTube channel.

10. Images.

While you can also do an image only search in Google, images also appear in Google search. This can be seen in the above ‘Cargo Glide’ search, which shows what appears towards the bottom of page 1. Video and images, if present on the page 1 results, are more likely to appear near the bottom.

It’s important to add the “alt” attribute is an important page of image search optimization. They identify it and tell Google what the picture is about.

Other Ways to Appear More on Page 1 of Google and Conclusion

By using structured data and rich snippets such as the star ratings for reviews, you can also gain additional visibility in search. But these enhanced visibility features may not last long so don’t want wait to make use of them.

Google is always refinishing its search results. In 2014 it streamlined it’s interface with the reduction of video, Authorship, and local pack results. Of course, there was no reduction in the amount of ads shown.

Having your website appear multiple times in Google for a single search result can make a huge impact on your bottom line so take advantage of as many of these opportunities, many of which are free, while you still can.


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Website Relaunch: Law Office of Michael Ditchik

We are pleased to announce the launch of the redesigned website for the Law Office of Michael Ditchik, a family law attorney in Kent, Washington. The new site brings a more visually appealing design for the firm along with a new logo.

The new website features a responsive design to better capture mobile users. A Security Certificate has also been added to the website for encryption against hackers, more security and privacy for visitors to the site.

ditchik law2 Website Relaunch: Law Office of Michael Ditchik

Speed Optimization

Having HTTPS requires extra communication or “handshakes” between the servers, which has the potential to slow down a website. However, the website for the Law Office of Michael Ditchik is blazing fast. We optimized the code and caching for speed.
In speed tests, the website loads in under two seconds.

Website speed optimization provides a better user experience and is a search engine ranking factor. As the Web users are increasingly on mobile devices, the website should be well-positioned to load quickly, provide security, and render optimally for all visitors.

Redesign Takeaways

In addition to design enhancements and adding features to bring your website up to date, a redesign project also is a good time to take a fresh look at the content on your website and update it to keep it current.

A website redesign provides an opportunity to evaluate your on-site SEO and make improvements or add new content, improve your title tags and descriptions, and calls to action to optimize conversion rates and gain more customers from your website.


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Website Hosting: What Are the Options?

When it comes to choosing the right website hosting for your business, there are a variety of options available and the choices can seem dizzying. The most common hosting options website hosting companies offe are shared hosting, VPS (Virtual Private Server), and dedicated hosting. We’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Shared Hosting

Usually the cheapest of the four options, shared hosting means exactly what it says: customers are given a folder on a shared server with other users — sometimes of thousands of users. For many websites, this is more than enough computing power for their needs and helps keep cost down.

Often shared hosting sites, due to the large number of clients on their servers, offer “unlimited” space and bandwidth (although they do have internal data caps). However, due to the shared nature of the hosting, servers with many high-traffic sites will run more slowly, and e-commerce sites which use SSL are a very bad idea on shared hosting. If your website loads slowly, this impacts the user experience on your site and your sales.

servers Website Hosting:  What Are the Options?

Another risk of using shared hosting is that it can impact your email delivery. For example, if an email spammer is using your shared hosting company and the server you share is being used, the server can be flagged by other domains’ security software, preventing the delivery of your own email. If you want the cost savings of shared hosting, it’s best to not go for the cheapest providers and do your homework to carefully research the available options.

Prices for shared hosting start at about $5 per month for unlimited domains. Some companies offer low introductory rates with rates that increase significantly after the first month or when your contract is up for renewal. Some of the most popular shared hosting companies are BlueHost, Hostgator, and GoDaddy, which also offers domain registration.

VPS Hosting

The next step up from shared hosting is VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting. While VPS is also a shared server option, the major difference is that your server space is completely partitioned off as a virtual server, meaning the space dedicated in your VPS is yours alone.

While VPS is a far better choice for companies doing e-commerce or SSL and offers more speed than shared hosting, the price is considerably higher and your memory and bandwidth limits are considerably lower.

VPS hosting starts at about $20 per month but can go up quickly with more memory and bandwidth usage.

responsive web design Website Hosting:  What Are the Options?

Hosting Keeps Your Website Up & Running 24/7

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is hosting on dedicated physical servers for your website as opposed to sharing space, whether as a folder or a virtual server. Dedicated hosting is particularly important to large companies (as well as power users) trying to securely protect their data, because dedicated hosting gives you full control – even at the operating system level– over the flow and memory usage of your website.

On the minus side, full control means far less support and a hefty operating bill, easily the largest of the four. Another word of caution, if a service company is providing your ‘dedicated’ hosting, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dedicated to your website alone. Find out how many other users are utilizing the server.

Dedicated hosting starts at about $170 per month but can more than double in price with more computing power.

Cloud Hosting and More

Cloud hosting is rapidly gaining in popularity due to its ease of accessibility and low cost. Like shared hosting but with the power of VPS hosting, cloud hosting has the further advantage of not being tied to a particular server; if one fails, data moves to functioning interconnected servers. Another advantage for many website owners is cloud hosting is scalable, meaning it can be infinitely expanded and customize according to user needs.

In addition to the above, there are other hosting options such as managed hosting, colocation, which is similar to dedicated hosting, and Linux and Windows server hosting. Other factors to consider including email hosting and the availability of a Security Certificate for encryption.

Final Thoughts

For most small businesses, the most important hosting factors is having a dedicated IP so they have their own resources and if using shared hosting, they’re less succeptible to spammer activity.

At Ascent, we offer small business website hosting at affordable prices with a dedicated IP and Security Certificates available. Our hosting service includes website maintenance to keep your site up to date. Contact us to review your hosting needs.


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