Google seems to be doing a limited beta test of a new style of displaying local search results, such as restaurants, in a unique carousel style that allows a user to scroll sideways through the results. This interesting format is clearly targeting mobile and tablet users who can easily go between results by swiping.
Justin Howley (@JustinKHowley) spotted the above results while doing a Google search for [best tacos in dallas].
And Pete Meyers on Google+ spotted the above slightly different search results (with the map beneath the carousel) for [new orleans restaurants].
The results also appeared on a map to the right side of the carousel, which can be enlarged and shows the pins for the locations of the restaurants in the carousel. It also includes links to maps, Google+ page and lists the number of reviews each restaurant has.
For local business owners, this gives the potential for many more local listings to appear above the fold in the search results, since Google often only lists one or two local listings from Google+. In this case, seven results are shown in the carousel. If your local business has been languishing further down the results page, this could be a very positive move for many.
It also highlights the importance of having a good business image on Google+. Some of the thumbnails chosen could be a lot more appealing for visitors looking for the best taco place in Dallas.
Does Taco Joint really want a handmade sign saying “Coldest table in the place” written in Sharpie? Or Torchy’s Tacos with a stack of their soft drink cups?
While it is great customers can upload photos, it makes much more sense for the local businesses to upload some of their own more professional looking shots of their business or their food.
This could be a beta test for Google search but it could also be a test for the new Google Maps interface reported earlier this week by Google Operating System that is rumored to be launching soon:
The screenshots show what appears to be a similar style imagery at the bottom which could easily be changed to local listings instead of the screenshots showing local attractions and places of interest.