The Next Frontier of Local Search: Introducing the “Query Carousel”

By Brodie Clark

January 5, 2020
combination query carousel appearing for various sources

Almost a year ago, Dave DiGregorio noticed that Google was testing a Post Mentions feature within the Map Pack and Local Finder. 

I explored this in more detail in a post I wrote for Search Engine Land, describing a key component of this feature in the following way:

“When clicking on the feature from the map pack or local finder, it forces the Post that the content has been extracted from to appear at the top of the listing, in a section titled: “Related to your search”.”

We’re now seeing this same functionality expand beyond just Post content. With sightings involving reviews, Q&As and even product feeds.

Mike Blumenthal and Carrie Hill named the feature as a “Query Carousel”, which I believe to be a fitting name. This is due to the influence of the query on the results you see positioned at the top of a Google My Business listing.

I went ahead and conducted some additional research on the feature. Here’s what I found.

Google can use various Google My Business content sources to create combination Query Carousels

Initially, I could only find a combination of Q&As and reviews. Mike then brought to my attention that Posts and reviews could also be combined.

This made me realise that the possibilities were broader than my initial findings. While I found that this result was exceptionally rare, I was able to find a combination of reviews, Posts and Q&As. Here’s what this looks like:

Query Carousel with Reviews Posts and Questions and Answers

This wasn’t something that I just stumbled across, I had to reverse engineer this result based on the content available. But as I said, this was a major outlier and was difficult to trigger.

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It is however useful to note that Google has the ability to use several sources at the same time, not just 2 (which was all that had been discovered previously).

I’ve got the trifecta here, but does the quadfecta exist? That would be a combination of a Post, Q&A, review, and product feed. I’ll buy the winner a beverage of their choice.

Be careful with republishing Google Posts with the same content

This is an interesting discovery that I made during my research, which relates to the Query Carousel, but has actually been happening for about a year now.

Posts only remain active for 7 days, and it can sometimes be hard to justify the time and effort it takes to put together an engaging and unique post.

Once the 7 days is up, the Post then becomes hidden within the mix of other posts behind a ‘View previous updates on Google’ link on your Google My Business listing.

With an ‘Event’ Post, you’re able to set the duration for your Post. This means you can choose when your Post will become inactive and hidden within the previous updates link.

In this example I’m seeing, the listing has published the same post multiple times, resulting in the same Posts being surfaced for a query. This is obviously a VERY specific query, but the same could apply to broader queries.

google post query carousel same post

The thought here is to consider the impact of uploading the same Post to prolong its visibility. It may be worthwhile considering other alternatives, such as an Event Post, or uploading as a Product if appropriate.

As another example of duplication in a different context, I’m seeing similar with reviews. But this is something that’s unavoidable, with the onus being on Google to surface a set of useful results.

I’m seeing Google surfacing a string of the exact same review, uploaded by different users. While this provides confidence for the searcher about the reliability of the result, it would be better to provide results with more depth of insight.

query carousel showing same text from different reviews

Again, there isn’t much that the listing owner can do to avoid this. And to be fair, the results at the beginning of the carousel do provide more depth (these 3 reviews were placed at the end).

Amount of Google My Business content determines which sources appear

When Google surfaces results in the query carousel, it really depends on how much content they have to work with from each of the 4 sources (reviews, Posts, Q&As and product feeds).

With a lot of the examples used in this post, I’ve used results from Sydney. This is mainly because Sydney has a greater population than Melbourne, so it was a bit easier to find examples.

The same goes for the types of businesses. There are some like bars, cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions that receive a lot of content submissions on Google My Business.

The main one, which will always be the primary UGC, is for reviews. In more recent years, Posts and Q&As have been added to the mix, and are continuing to grow.

Here’s an example of where Posts are combined with reviews:

query carousel using Posts and reviews

And another for where Q&As are combined with reviews:

query carousel with questions and answers and reviews

This all really depends on the query (hence the name “Query Carousel”) and how much content is available for Google to extract from the listing and present to the user.

If you’re searching a segment that isn’t known to be active in publishing Posts, then you’ll be less likely to stumble across those results in the Query Carousel.

Can a single result from the Query Carousel appear?

Yes, a single result can appear for a query too. If Google decides that a listing has a particularly relevant result, then that result will be highlighted and given more visibility.

For this example, a single review has been highlighted as the most relevant result. If you want, you can click-through and read the remaining text that has been truncated.

query carousel review content highlighted

The same applies for a Q&A, which is structured quite nicely on a listing. The answer becomes bolded so you can theoretically find the answer to your query quickly.

query carousel highlighting a question and answer result

And again, you can see the same for a product uploaded via Google’s Merchant Center:

query carousel google merchant center

The product feed addition within the Query Carousel is quite an interesting one. I’ve written about this area extensively over the past few months. You can read my research to learn more.

Product feeds for ecommerce SEO will remain a hot topic going in to 2020, so it’s an important one to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward for your clients.

Final thoughts

It’s quite interesting to watch how this feature has evolved from just Posts to including a lot of other Google My Business content. Next we’ll probably see Products (the ones you add manually to a listing) and Services appearing.

I do believe this to be a big step in the way of Local Search. The Query Carousel offers much more value to the user, surfacing relevant content in a way that’s never been seen before.

In a way, the Query Carousel is kind of like a Featured Snippet. The goal is to highlight a relevant result, and allow the user to learn more by exploring further if need be.

As more content is added to Google My Business listings over time, the algorithms will continue to understand listings in greater detail and serve more relevant results.

As always, continue to encourage your customers to leave reviews, provide insightful responses to Q&As, publish relevant and engaging Posts, and make sure your product feeds are in check.

Postscript:

Word of Mouth Online

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