Local Search

The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel

 

Being listed on Google Local Carousel makes the difference in terms of business revenue.  Studies have shown an excellent click-through rate and conversion rate achieved by companies displayed in Google’s Local Carousel.

 

This analysis intends to determine the main factors that influence rankings in Local Carousel.

Google Local Carousel1 637x383 The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel

Methodology:

First we have searched and identified 14 local keywords from different industries that trigger local carousel.

We chose the implicit keywords for running the analysis on because those are the keywords delivering over 75% of the Local Traffic, according to Google Trends and Keyword Planner Tool.

Here is a short example of implicit vs explicit number of searches queries, from the same Geo-Location

“Law Office” vs “Law Office Chicago” – Google Trends location set to “Chicago”

Law Office Chicago Google Trends 637x404 The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel

Most of the searches are on the implicit keywords -the blue line in the image above- without adding the location in the keyword, as Google is already generating since the Venice update, customized search results, based on the user location. The location is identified by analyzing the user IP address.

The analysis on implicit keyword was possible by using GeoRanker distributed local servers capacities – Local IP addresses – to crawl all Google Maps and Google Local Carousel data using de-personalized search queries for each keyword on TOP 15 major cities on US.

For each of 7000 business establishments found in the carousel results, we have crawled all related pages, Google Plus pages, profile pages, and reviews and analyzed the following local SEO factors:

  • +1-es on URL
  • +1-es on Google+ Business Page
  • Google+ Reviews Number
  • Citations Number
  • Keyword in Title
  • Rating Score on Google+
  • Keyword in URL
  • Location in Title
  • Location in URL
  • NAP as TEXT ( Name, Address, Phone Number )
  • Authorship
  • Publishership
  • Structured Data

Please note that URL is the external website/URL connected to the Google+ Business page.

Result: Correlation

All the results were injected in a correlation analysis, using the Spearman algorithm with the goal of finding the correlation between Top ranking websites in Google Carousel and the various factors.

Local Carousel Correlation Analysis 637x430 The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel

 

The correlation chart indicates that Google considers its own factors as the most important:

  • qty of +1-es on Google+ Business Page
  • qty of +1-es on URL
  • number of reviews on Google+
  • number of citations
  • rating score in Google+

Social Signals are strongly correlated with the TOP ranking results. The Social Behavior could be one of the most important direct ranking factors for the Local Carousel as it has many different advantages:

  • all user’s attributes as industry/contribution activity , user location, interaction with other accounts history – could be used in the ranking algorithm
  • it is very difficult to create fake signals from high authority accounts
  • it can send local signals – depending on the location of the users
  • increase the number of social backlinks – Google+ re-shares – contains backlinks to original posts
  • increase the number of organic backlinks – as some of the SM followers will link their blog articles to your content

Under the top 5 factors only, the number of citations shows up as being the most important external factor to rank in Google Carousel.

The next 4 factors in the correlation chart are all related to the content structure:

  • Keyword in Title
  • Location in Title
  • Keyword in URL
  • Location in URL

Is important to have good content, but is mandatory to use an optimized content structure.

Because all results in the Local Carousel are already registered on Google Maps, which provide the same type of data as the last 4 factors in the chart, the correlation level for those factors is low. An analysis on organic results should show a much stronger correlation level for those 4 last factors.

By understanding the correlation analysis you will be able to focus local SEO resources on the factors with the highest correlation level, in order to get positive results in the shortest time.

How to Rank Higher in Google Local Carousel

  1. Add & verify your business location on Google Maps
  2. Build a strong Social Media Google+ strategy
  3. Add Google +1 button on your website
  4. Build a Google Local review strategy
  5. Build citations on high quality location sources relevant for your industry and location
  6. Build a content strategy by including a content structure – optimized for your industry and targeted locations

NAP consistency is very important, so be sure to use the same citations verified on Google Maps.

You should start the optimization process with a Local SERP Audit in order to be able to track ranking evolution over-time for each different keyword/location targeted and focus Local SEO resources in the right direction.

Feedback

Have you had good experiences with Google Local Carousel? This article is the first of many of similar correlation reports to follow. Your input and suggestions on new factors to be added to this analysis are welcome.

Photo Credit: Screenshot taken on Google 11/10/2013, Screenshot taken on Google Trends 11/10/2013, GeoRanker.com

03ebd8c374690c43952828d2fc1429da 64 The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel
Sergiu Draganus is an Entrepreneur, CEO of GeoRanker and Conference Speaker - open to approach any new type of analysis and suggestions related to Local SEO.
03ebd8c374690c43952828d2fc1429da 64 The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel
03ebd8c374690c43952828d2fc1429da 64 The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel

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13 thoughts on “The Top 13 Factors for Google Local Carousel

  1. Very interesting study! Thanks for sharing!

    If social signals play a big role in ranking on Google ‘sLocal Carousel, then it’s best to step up the game on social media, especially Google+.

  2. Really interesting stuff here Sergiu – great work! One question – is this suggesting that structured data such as Schema markup is actually showing a negative correlation?

    1. The reason for a low correlation level on the last 4 factors is because the analysis is done on Local Carousel results only. All those BrandNames/Urls are already Registered to Google Maps and Google knows for all records the Name, Address, Phone Number ( as Structured Data ) and in many cases also the Author and Publisher, so there are no sites ranking better because they have structured data and others ranking lower because they are not using structured data ( Google has the data for all of them )

      We intend to run a similar analysis on Organic Local Results ( not carousel only ), in order to have a better picture on the correlation level for this last factors, as on Organic Results, many websites are not using none of those last 4 factors on their SEO campaigns.

  3. Social is an important ranking factor for SEO right now. The studies done by David Mihm on Local implies similar findings.

    You said it here, “it is very difficult to create fake signals from high authority accounts.”

    That is very true. Link Builders have found ways to manipulate PageRank, DA, PA and Trust with link building strategies, their own blog networks setup across different IPs and Subnets and so on; however, it’s much more difficult to manipulate the authority of a social account because it is a much more personal experience. You can build a website with great content, but it’s nearly impossible to fake a personality.

    Furthermore, I would add that Google is probably factoring in the velocity of shares correlated with the amount of shares, determining the virality of the content.

    Fantastic article, Sergiu. This is a great contribution to local search.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Joshua! SM signals are offering a better approach for analyzing the authority of a website for a specific industry and location than the old SEO factors.

      After the latest Google updates, SEO approach is easier than ever before, as long as all factors are understood correctly. Now we don’t need for example to create millions of backlinks to be listed on Google TOP page, but we need a well designed SEO strategy with a correct approach for OnSite , OffSite and Social Media implementation.

  4. So it seems the key question is whether Cutts comment that Google+ activity doesn’t directly boost search ranking (http://www.seroundtable.com/google-1ranking-17252.html) is still valid. Sergiu – how do you reconcile your study with Cutts’ comments earlier this year that Google +1s have no direct search ranking benefit? Do you think Cutts wasn’t talking about local/carousel when he says “search rankings” and that +1 activity directly boosts local carousel but not organic search results?

    1. @Jon – my answer is that only more +1es will never help you rank higher, Google algorithms is not looking only for high no of +1es in order to increase rankings rankings. I am sure Google is checking for correlation between different factors also, as for example, the +es, reviews, location of the users +ing , authority of the users and so on.

      Matt Cutts see the whole picture better than anyone else, that’s for sure, and what he tells is not all he thinks, but is only what needs to be heard. From my POV, he want to say that building fake +1es will not help, but building them organically will surely send Google different other signals which will increase rankings.

  5. Sergiu – great post and interesting findings.

    What I think a lot of people don’t understand is we get +1′s not to necessarily rank better in the ‘local carousel’, but we do it because you want to build as large of an ‘engaged community’ around your ‘local brand’. This is never a waste of time. We don’t get more ‘reviews’ to only rank better in local SERPs or to get more golden stars on our local listings, we want to do it because it will improve our referral rates and to boost staff morale. There are so many other important reasons to do this stuff then to just boost our local rankings. I think if we focus on ‘people’ reasons, then we’ll act more accordingly to what are the best practices to local seo.

    IMO, I think if more people talked about those reasons, then more SMB’s would be motivated to get actively involved and less would be tempted to participate in spam we see polluting the local SERPs b/c spam actions never builds a ‘real’ community of fans around your business. If you want to last the test of time, it’s best to invest in practices that helps build a strong fan base around your brand and that does involve leveraging Google’s social network to get +1′s and reviews.

    No surprises here that they ‘may’ be strong ranking factors in the ‘local carousel’, but just b/c they are make sure you know the bigger picture of why you want to be participating in actions that help you get them.

  6. Great info. Thank you for sharing the data.

    My business does not have a brick and mortar location. It services Colorado Springs and Denver. Any advice on how to create a local strategy when the business is mobile?

  7. Great study and article Sergiu.

    Question: What do you mean by ‘Rating Score on Google+’

    Can you say more about this factor since it’s the 5th most important factor?

    Thanks,
    Jeff