Google is dropping its horizontal Carousel display of local search results in several categories: restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and hotels. It’s being replaced by a 3-pack of organic listings and some new secondary pages.
The Local Carousel rolled out in June, 2013 for the PC in the US and gradually expanded to a number of categories beyond local results (e.g., US Presidents). It’s not clear whether it will remain for these non-local search results.
Since day one the Carousel has been controversial among local SEOs and even among those involved in the European antitrust negotiations with Google (it has not launched in Europe). Here’s what the Carousel looked like yesterday for the query “New York hotels”:
Beyond the SEO questions and concerns raised by others, I have always found the Carousel to be limiting and awkwardly disconnected from the rest of the page. Below is a screen showing the new 3-Pack results for the same search for “New York hotels”:
The new 3-Pack will appear below the top AdWords results. The 3-Pack results are not ads; they’re the top algorithmically ranked listings. Users will then be able to click any of those three and land on a new business profile page similar to what users might see or have seen in a Knowledge Graph panel for the hotel or other local business.
In the case of hotels you’ll be able to see pricing and room availability, as you can today in the Knowledge Graph panel. In the hotels category, but not in other local categories (today), the business details page may include an ad unit (tied to booking).
Clicking on the “more” link at the bottom of the 3-Pack takes users into a full page of local results that can be sorted. There’s a large map on the right. This is not unlike a page that would have been seen in earlier versions of Google Maps results.
Clicking on any of these local links will take users to the details page for that entity.
This new presentation and flow removes the awkwardness of the Carousel and enables the display of more information. Clicking on any of the old Carousel results simply changed the Knowledge Graph panel but didn’t provide any additional information depth.
Let us know if you’re seeing these new 3-Pack pages and for what categories. The new pages and flow only appear on the PC and not in mobile.
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