Google Carousel: The New Feature Hoteliers Can't Afford to Ignore.
By Sue Wiker
Monday, 24th June 2013
If you've done any Google searches lately, you may have noticed a new feature taking over the top of your search engine results page (SERP); this new feature changes the SERP landscape yet again, placing even more of an emphasis on local listing performance.

What's the issue?

A carry-over from tablet searches, the interactive "carousel" of local dining, nightlife and hotels displays images and other pertinent information related to the search.

Sourced from Google+ Local pages, these placards display an image, the Zagat rating, the address, and how many reviews are available for each property.

Mouse over a property and a pin is raised on the map corresponding to that property. When an image is clicked, the SERP refreshes to display an organic search of the property's brand name. 

4Hoteliers Image Library

Clicking on the first result, New York's Hotel Pennsylvania, refreshes the SERP to a search of the brand name:

4Hoteliers Image Library

Note that the property website is listed first, followed by deep links within the site. Other results not pictured include TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, Expedia, Yelp, and Facebook.

What does it mean for hoteliers?

Another shuffle of the SERP makes local search optimization even more important. Sorted by the local search algorithm – which is separate than the organic search algorithm – these results are powered by Google+ Local.

Only the carousel, paid ads, and Google Hotel Finder are above the fold, regardless of monitor size, making it crucial for hotels to have a local presence. Just like in organic search there is no guarantee of placement, but a quality optimization of the property's local presence will greatly boost performance.

Placement is crucial on SERPs. While there are no statistics yet on the impact the carousel has on traffic or revenue, a recent study from Chitika found that the top listing in Google's organic search results received 33 percent of traffic compared to 18 percent for the second position.

Additionally, first-page results attracted 92 percent of all traffic from the average search. With the new carousel feature, we expect to see branded search traffic increase as users click on the image and enter the site through the refreshed branded search as opposed to entering the site through non-branded searches.

What do HeBS Digital's marketing experts recommend?

It should go without saying that a local listing optimization is paramount. HeBS Digital's local listing optimization and enhancement packages ensure that a property's listings across Google, Yahoo, and Bing adhere to best practices, including premier photography, correct contact information, optimized descriptions, strategic category selection, and more.

In addition, because the search engines compile their listings from multiple sources on top of what the listing owner submits, HeBS Digital also standardizes this information across the main data providers and prominent local business directories. Ensuring that information is correct across every channel sends a concise, coherent message to the local search algorithm.

Due to the highly visual nature of the carousel, striking photography is a major plus. While the quality of the photograph has no impact on the ranking algorithm, users are inherently drawn towards clean, impactful photography. If there was any question of new photography this year, the carousel is a great reason to go for it.


Pairing with a digital marketing partner that has the experience and expertise to fully optimize your local listings should be an immediate priority. This highly-visual change to the SERPs is sure to have an impact on how users search for hotels.

HeBS Digital offers a variety of local listing optimization and enhancement packages that will boost your local performance and ensure that your property's information is accurate across the major local touch points.

To learn more about Google Carousel and how to optimize your local search strategy, click here to contact us.

About the Author and HeBS Digital
Sue Wiker is Manager, Copy & SEO Department at HeBS Digital, the hospitality industry's leading full-service digital technology and marketing firm

HeBS Digital has pioneered many of the best practices in hospitality digital technology and marketing, and direct online channel best practices and strategies. The firm has won over 250 prestigious industry awards for its digital marketing and website design services, including numerous Adrian Awards, Davey Awards, W3 Awards, WebAwards, Magellan Awards, Summit International Awards, Interactive Media Awards, IAC Awards, and others.

A diverse client portfolio of hospitality clients: from restaurants to major hotel brands, luxury and boutique hotel chains, resorts and casinos, hotel management companies, franchisees and independents, and CVBs are benefiting from HeBS Digital's direct online channel strategy and digital marketing expertise. Contact HeBS Digital's consultants at (212) 752-8186 or success@hebsdigital.com.

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