Havas Media Group Focus : Google Carousel


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Continuing their trend of introducing new and innovative search results formats, Google announced the launch of the Local Search Carousel on June 18th 2013. It represents a dramatic visual departure from legacy search results pages, with a new type of result positioned at the top of the page....

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Havas Media Group Focus : Google Carousel

  1. 1. google Carousel July 2013
  2. 2. © 2013 Havas Media Group 2 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS Lead Contributors Kenneth Domingo SEO Specialist Havas Media North America kenneth.domingo@havasmedia.com Winston Burton VP, SEO Havas Media North America winston.burton@havasmedia.com Ann Kane SVP, Search Marketing Director Havas Media North America ann.kane@havasmedia.com Alan Boughen SVP, Global Search Director Havas Media Group alan.boughen@havasmg.com
  3. 3. © 2013 Havas Media Group 3 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS Following its tradition of innovation, on June 18, 2013, Google announced the launch of the Local Search Carousel. It represents a dramatic visual departure from legacy results pages, with a new type of result positioned at the top of the page. Google will now render a horizontal “carousel” of tiled images above all other search results on local searches for queries on categories like hotels, nightlife and restaurants. The tiles include thumbnail images, ratings and reviews. When clicked, an appropriate search query is issued, results are adjusted, and a Knowledge Panel opens up. Goo- gle has promised more features and functions are to come. In the new design, Google has pushed organic results below the fold. In the tests Havas Media has run, PPC and HPA ads were rendering above the fold. While Goo- gle’s intentions are presumably for the benefit of the user, in the immediate days following deployment, the carousel’s functionality departs from traditional process with adjusting results. Consumers may find the information retrieval process less intuitive and more challenging. The interactive carousel rollout is currently limited to English language in the US only. Google has said they will add more features and languages over time. Local Search Carousel Overview The information on the cards at the top of the page is sourced from Google’s Local Universal results. The listings feature information from the 30-point ratings system for Google Places. When Google has prices & availability for the selected hotel, an HPA ad will render in the Knowledge Panel. How to Rank
  4. 4. © 2013 Havas Media Group 4 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS At first glance, the carousel comes off as a much more visually appealing delivery of local search results, with thumbnail images as its most prominent element. For hotel-related generic+geo searches i.e. Ocean City Maryland Hotels, Google will show the carousel listings with paid search ads and sponsored ads directly below the carousel listings. The following pages show a breakdown of multiple scenarios with the carousel-driven SERPs >> User Experience
  5. 5. © 2013 Havas Media Group 5 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS >> Scenario 1: If the user clicks on the carousel In theory, this is a more likely scenario since the visual appeal is intended to take away click share from the organic listings. Once a carousel listing is clicked, a new SERP is generated with the property brand name + city as the query. Then the user can click on the hotel website (that is if no one is bidding on the brand name + city query). This may motivate advertisers to start bidding on these queries, increase paid search spend, and produce more revenue for Google. Or, the user can click on the hotel rates in the knowledge graph. Generally, the links at the forefront with rates are from OTAs, with the owner site link at the bottom. Again, this is another instance of Google encouraging revenue-generating user behavior. If the user clicks through to the hotel site via pure organic listing, it may be labeled as a branded query visit, instead of a generic +geo query visit as it would be pre-carousel click.
  6. 6. © 2013 Havas Media Group 6 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS >> Scenario 2: If the user does not click on the carousel Two forms of paid Search ads render directly below and above the fold: sponsored results and Hotel Finder. Clicking on Hotel Finder will expand the listings, but OTA buttons with rates remain most prominent. In many cases the site owner link is available but only at the bottom of the “More” dropdown: Users can still scroll down and click through to the site via pure organic listing without clicking on the carousel or paid units. From a business perspective, the positioning and side-scroll functionality gives exposure to more results. Factoring the Google Places requirement, it is good news for hoteliers vying for premium local search visibility and ranking below the fold of the traditional local search packs. It is potentially a game-changer for the highly competitive generic+geo category as OTAs are currently not eligible. As it is now a primary source for these listings, it forces marketers to manage Google Places. To maintain strong organic coverage, an active presence within Google Places will be needed to monitor and enhance listings. We also anticipate increased user interaction with Google Places and potentially HPA. More importantly, with this new layout organic search will likely lose click share and competing for visibility will require usage of paid ads. The paid search list- ings occupy premium space and organic results are further down the page regard- less of whether or not the carousel is used. Furthermore, while these units are cur- rently not under a paid model, Google may charge in the future as it has continued efforts to better monetize the page. Driving traffic via pure organic listings would become more challenging. Benefits/ Tradeoffs
  7. 7. © 2013 Havas Media Group 7 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS In 2012 Google fundamentally over-hauled its delivery of shopping results. It an- nounced a series of changes built around the Google Shopping platform to pro- vide more innovative functionality and results customized to shopping. This move to Product Listings Ads (PLAs) impacted both the way information was rendered in search listings and as well as how marketers were charged. The shift to PLAs signified a move to a paid inclusion model as marketers were forced to pay-per-click similar to the sponsored PPC ads. Previously, Google in- tegrated product information into the organic search results. Product listings had been an organic result determined by the algorithm and not a paid auction. Mar- keters were not charged per click and it was essentially an enhanced value of an active SEO strategy. As one of the categories included, hotel advertisers’ results are expected to be impacted by this change to the local search ecosystem. At this point it’s difficult to predict what user behaviors will result from the launch of the local search carousel or how future innovations will further compound change. We will measure the im- pact to revenue and ROI. Below is a list of possible impacts: • Local organic search KPIs may decrease. • Core organic search KPIs driven by [generic]+[geo] terms may decrease. • Brand property name + City traffic and conversions may increase. It’s important to note that the aforementioned decreases may not be true de- creases, but merely re-routing of traffic. Additionally, the launch of the local search carousel may not result in a considerable decline in overall organic KPIs, as in many cases organic search performance is largely driven by branded queries. Similarities to Google Shopping What does this mean for Hotel Advertisers?
  8. 8. © 2013 Havas Media Group 8 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS Despite this major change in generic local searches, SEO best practices remain the same: • Use high-resolution images. Although the user path through the carousel may be less than ideal, it’s still important for advertisers to entice user click through by using high quality and resolution images. This is one of the brand’s first opportunities to engage the user, and should not be ignored. • Continue optimizing and maintaining Google+ listings. Ranking in local search packs correlate with placement in the carousel and are still present in mobile SERPs. Advertisers should continue to maintain accuracy of Google+ listings and encourage reviews to maintain and improve local search visibility. • Monitor search behavior via Analytics. Advertisers and agency teams should closely monitor user behaviors from generic+geo search queries in the coming weeks. Once these behaviors are confirmed and analyzed, you will be able to adapt to an SEO strategy that ensures optimal performance in light of the recent changes. • Paid search can ramp up spending on search terms to capture more traffic, revenue and conversions if organic search experiences a decline. • Continue to monitor any changes in organic visibility and KPIs on the site side. Analytics and SEO teams should be prepared to react accordingly. Next Steps
  9. 9. © 2013 Havas Media Group 9 Google CarouselHAVAS MEDIA GROUP FOCUS Resources Google official announcement https://plus.google.com/+google/posts/KpsbyvHUotN The Beta test http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2267459/New-Google-Local-Listings- Carousel-Showcases-7-Results-Above-the-Fold Where do users click the most on the carousel? http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2278048/Google-Local-Carousel- Results-Where-Do-Users-Click-Most
  10. 10. www.havasmediagroup.com Produced by Havas Media Group