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How Do We Feel About Google Carousel Results?

A couple days ago The Google moved its local search "carousel" to desktop computers (previously it was only showing up on tablets). While I think the overall concept is neat – when performing searches for local bars & restaurants, you get a carousel of images at the top of your SERP – it's also something that'll need to be fine-tuned and honed before people jump on board.

For example, in reading about a test of people trying it out for the first time (study done by Nifty Marketing), the term "Chicago restaurants" was chosen. If you watch even just the first video of the person seeing the carousel for the first time, she's confused as to what certain aspects of it mean – most notably the "number" system ("what does 27 mean?").

Also, I must say that the carousel "results" for Chicago restaurants look pretty good: nice, tidy, good-looking photos, etc.

Now, on the other hand...what if we do a search a tad closer to home? For example, "restaurants in Brooklyn Center MN" (it's on the brain since I have a family dinner up there tonight). Results in the Google carousel are...well, somewhat lacking:

Okay. So let's be more fair...I then did a search for bars in Minneapolis:

Hang on, wait. Why is there a photo of a SHOOTER in a list of restaurants???

What is going on here, Google? Why have you included this in your carousel for my restaurant search?

Well, because Nye's is a very popular Minneapolis bar. But, why is there a wretched, scary picture that makes me NOT want to go to Nye's....why?

Well, because that's the only picture on Nye's Polonaise Room's Google+ Page:

So, evidently we know two things: 

  1. The photos within Google's local carousel results are pulled from Google+ pages. 
  2. Nye's Polonaise Room either doesn't know it has a Google+ page, or would like to be known as a gangster bar.

I mean, you'd expect this type of thing to show up in some sort of search for New York City restaurants, but not Minneapolis :)

As to the question of what the numbers mean within the carousel listings: they're Zagat scores. The reviews are coming from Google reviews. We still don't know how The Google is choosing which restaurants to show in the carousel. I'm sure if this carousel bandwagon takes off we'll learn more about how Google's "ranking" the carousel results...but right now it doesn't seem to be by number of reviews or even Zagat score...and it's definitely not by judging the quality of the Google+ photos :)