Lauren Kaye

Last week, Brafton covered Google’s big unveiling of its new carousel search results display for local listings. Users’ queries for nearby restaurants and businesses are now answered with a moving panel of listings that feature images and customer reviews. This changes the way the search engine displays web content, and it has left SEOs wondering if their previous practices will be as effective in the new structure. Initial studies show clicks are distributed differently than they would be in traditional SERPs, where the first domain on Page 1 receives 32.5 percent of all web traffic.

Surprisingly, users do not click on the first results displayed in the carousel like they would in hierarchical organic listings, according to a study conducted by Local University. Rather, the third and eighth domains receive the greatest web traffic, with the latter taking the lion’s share of clicks.

Only half of internet users click on carousel

However, less than half of internet users are even paying attention to the locations in the carousel, the study found. Just 48 percent of all traffic goes to the rotating listings at the top of the page. Nearly 15 percent go to the map that shows businesses’ locations and the remainder are dispersed across organic listings below. Following a normal pattern, the majority of clicks on organic results go toward the first five positions in SERPs

The Local University study is supported by findings from another report by Nifty Marketing, which polled 10 random internet users to gauge their response to this change. Results were strikingly similar – only two people clicked on the sliding images, but they chose the third and eighth listings above all else.

More reviews, more clicks

The third and eighth domains receive the greatest web traffic, with the latter taking the lion’s share of clicks.

The study only offers this as insight – “The (two) that clicked on carousel results mentioned the review count before clicking on the listings.”

This could mean that websites with more reviews perform better on the carousel, but it might be too soon to tell given the small scale of these studies. It’s also important to note that more than half of all consumers didn’t even click on the sliding images, meaning those clicks are still going to the highest ranking domains in organic listings.

It’s wise for SEOs to keep their eyes peeled and ears open to new advice about Google’s local search rankings, but in the meantime, they should continue to do what has worked in the past. Brands that publish fresh custom content to websites and follow SEO best practices will rise to the top of SERPs, dominating positions that have the most visibility and get the most clicks.