Google tests local business cards feature in organic search

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 9 Mar, 2016
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Google has started testing a new feature which would allow businesses to insert their own promoted content directly into the organic search results.

The search engine is currently in the middle of a very limited trial run with a small number of local businesses in the USA which has seen a carousel style search result pop up for certain queries.

The carousel – or local business card as some observers have dubbed it – is somewhat similar in appearance to Facebook’s carousel ads. The cards assigned to each business appear like a slideshow or scrollable feed, so the user can flick through content provided by the business from within the search results.

This feature gives the local business more control over what content is flagged up in the search results, allowing them to post content directly to the search engine results page for the first time ever. The local carousel testing within the organic search results has also seen GIFs and animated content displayed directly in the search results for the first time.

Google test carousel

The search carousel or local business card makes for an eye-catching inclusion to the search results page. The participants in the trial each seem to have three blocks of content in their temporarily turbo-charged Google real estate, each showing an image or a video with a URL and a share button. The share button gives Google users the option to share the content directly from the search page via a few select methods (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and email).

Google test carousel save

Google has said that the content has been selected by the ‘few dozen’ local businesses it chose to take part in the trial and isn’t driven by its Google Local content or any other existing online platform.

The experiment builds on the Candidate Cards feature Google introduced in January for all US presidential candidates. Little is known yet about Google’s intentions with the trial as it has only confirmed that a small scale test is ongoing.

If the local business cards were to become a feature of the Google search interface, the impact on local SEO  could be substantial as brands are faced with a new landscape and new formats in which to win over customers in their local area.

Do you think Google should roll out this feature for businesses nationwide? Would you find the additional content useful as a user?

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