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Google Drops Some Local Carousel Listings - Pigeon Taking Flight?

     
6:31 am on Nov 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I suspect that this is a work in progress, which is why I'm not limiting it to hotels and restaurants as noted elsewhere... and I suspect it's where Google was going with Pigeon.

As reported today by Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land...

Google Drops Local Carousel For Hotels, Restaurants & Other Local Listings
[searchengineland.com...]

Google is dropping its horizontal Carousel display of local search results in several categories: restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and hotels. Itís being replaced by a 3-pack of organic listings and some new secondary pages.

The Local Carousel rolled out in June, 2013 for the PC in the US and gradually expanded to a number of categories beyond local results (e.g., US Presidents). Itís not clear whether it will remain for these non-local search results.

Since day one the Carousel has been controversial among local SEOs and even among those involved in the European antitrust negotiations with Google (it has not launched in Europe)....

From what I've been able to tell after a moderate amount of searching, the "deep" individual listings that replace the Carousel hotel and entertainment results are accessed in a variety of ways, depending on the type of result. But Local information results are now changing as well, though not (yet?) in the Carousel.

First pass only on this, and this is evolving as I'm checking it, so please forgive if it's not precise... for hotels and for movies...

...the Carousel is dropped, and clicking the "More hotels" link (beyond a few top organic results on the first page) displayed subsequent pages of hotel listings only (previously in the Carousel) that now allow sorting by price, availability, etc.

For these results, Google apparently is using room availability data, and using this data whether or not Google was offering associated bookings. I'm assuming there is either a data feed or third-party data, resembling shopping results. Ditto for movie listings (where, as before, there is an independent data set). I can only guess about the availability data.

Within, say, the sorted hotel list, clicking on any single hotel listing itself brings up a column with a Knowledge Graph panel up at the top, possibly followed by booking options, and then by review/booking sites in what appear to be some sort of organic order.

There is also a Local information aspect to these deeper results, but it's one click deeper....

Once in this second tier of results, using the searchbox on the page continues to bring up results that are not purely Web results, and the clue to this is a "Show web results for searchterms" message up at the top. What Google is calling these isn't yet labeled, but they're like a deeper set of Knowledge Graph results. Once you're in them for a given city, you're in what I'm thinking of as the new Local, albeit a Local that appears to incorporate organic and has a shopping-like data feed.

You can search for movies or you can search, say, for lawyers, or whatever has a Local aspect to the area you're in, and, from a search box query, you'll get a column of results, like the old results in the left side of maps. A search for lawyers, eg, gives you a column of results on the left.

When you click on one of these Local search results, you get a wider column, essentially with a Knowledge Graph result up top, followed by rows with reviews, pictures, etc, and then ultimately organic style listings of review sites. These are all lined up in one column for smooth display on mobile. This display appears to put you back in Web results, btw, when you search again.

I'm assuming that this is the meshing of the various types of results that Pigeon was heading towards. See this discussion on Pigeon here...

Pigeon Update Or Rollback Happening Now?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4692003.htm [webmasterworld.com]
3:47 pm on Nov 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi Robert,

Late last night Mike Blumenthal posted some research showing which verticals and KWs are triggering this new display and which still have the old carousel.

FYI I don't see this as Pigeon related at all.

Pigeon is an algo change which affects the ranking order in the pack. This is just a display/layout change.

Although there could be a different new algo at play with these results because I've seen pros say the ranking order if this new 3 pack does not align with Google new maps, so the ranking order appears to be different.

I can't confirm that because although I saw the update last night, I'm back to carousels again today.

Anyone else seeing the new update today? One classic term that's been showing it is New York Hotels with location set to NY. But for me today we are back to the carousel.

Linda Buquet
7:29 pm on Nov 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Linda, thanks for correcting my lack of precision. As Pigeon evolved, I wasn't watching the seven-pack local results nearly as closely as you were, but I was noticing that during the Pigeon rollout there were aspects of the interface that were evolving, apparently to integrate organic results, map results, and mobile results. This was happening also with the algorithm, and I've assumed that the two were in many ways joined at the hip and evolving in tandem.

What I saw last night, with the results replacing the Carousel, suggested to me at least that this was a further step in that direction, at least with the interface... but yes, this is not a change in the Pigeon algorithm as you describe it. It was a step towards returning more granular information on some types of local queries.

In many types of search, the 7-pack is still there. Further exploration today reveals that the secondary pages I was seeing are the "List view" of the "Map results"... and, when displayed by themselves, they are not labeled.

If you come in the back door, as I apparently did, via the search box while you're viewing, say, "More hotels cityname" and use the search box to do another local search, the results are also returned in this List view. You can toggle the view to Maps view by clicking the "View full map" icon in the upper left. Switching between Maps search (unlabeled) and Web search appears to be inconsistent at this point if you are in Maps view.

Perhaps worth mentioning now, that in the past several weeks, it's appeared that all local business results were often not very helpful via the Web search interface, to the point where I was wondering if Google was downgrading them. They are back now, at least via the following routes...

- the More LocalEntities link that follows the first several organic results (returned on what previously had been Carousel results)
- or via Map search in List view
- or via the "Map for LocalEntities" link in the upper right of the Web search page.

It's likely that there are other paths to them as well.

I believe that results for "movies" were in this local list view mode, at least for me late last night, but today the "movie" query is returning the Carousel, so I can't exactly compare. It's possible that Google is testing several different interfaces, something they've been known to do.
11:08 am on Nov 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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A PS to my comments above. After reviewing some of the discussion about Pigeon that appeared in various SEO blogs as the algorithm unfoldeded in July, August, and September, I'm feeling even more strongly than I did at the beginning of this thread that Google's current interface changes are tied in with the changes brought about by Pigeon. I'm assuming they were envisioned by Google at the time of the Pigeon launch, and they're being tested for user satisfaction as they're rolling out now.

Matt McGee discussed the initial changes in the serps a day after the update began, and he paid particular attention to local directories and to restaurant listings (which moved from organic to the Carousel)....

Google's Pigeon Update Solves Yelp Problem, Boosts Local Directories
Matt McGee - Search Engine Land - July 25, 2014
[searchengineland.com...]

It's not just Yelp that seems to be benefitting from Google's local algorithm update. A search this morning for "seattle restaurants" shows individual eateries up in the carousel, but the organic listings below are nothing but well-known directory-style sites like Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and OpenTable. There are even lesser known directory pages from Seattle newspapers and magazines on page one.

This split between the directory sites vs the entities (that had been moved to the Carousel) is now carried forward in the organic Web results and the secondary pages. For a cityname hotels query, eg....

- Both the directory-style sites and the individual hotels are ranked together in the organic results for the above search...

- The hotels only are listed in the "List view" of the "Map results" (accessible by a "More hotels" link from the first page). This List view can be user sorted in a variety of ways. It can also be brought up by a search within Google Maps.

- Clicking on any of these hotel listings brings up another secondary page, which contains a business panel (the old Knowledge Graph/Google+ page) for the selected hotel, followed by various booking options, highlight reviews, related searches, etc, which are at the top of another set of organic results, different from the first, as these rank only directory/review sites listings for the selected hotel... so it's a different query.

Once a clean data split has been made, I can see Google fairly easily testing Carousel vs non-Carousel views. It's clear, I feel, that the organization of results in Pigeon, with the named entities split off to the Carousel, was intended to work with what we're seeing now.
5:19 pm on Nov 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Robert, I can understand more where you are coming from now. Good observations.

I still don't have the update so can't really explore or analyze anything yet. Working blind over here. :-(
5:05 pm on Nov 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@ Robert Charlton: I moved over here per your suggestion from the thread on monetization of these same changes.

I'd like to highlight the lack of contact info in the initial results for a search such as:

restaurants (any US city); Hotels (any US city).

The new default gives a 3 pac that takes up an enormous amount of screen space with 3 pictures and some data. There is plenty of room on top of the 3 pac for adwords.

I focused on restaurants versus hotels; the 2 categories that formerly showed the carousel that also gathered the most traffic by far.

The 2 situations have similar layouts with a 3 PAC but thereafter there are some significant differences: The hotel side is significantly monetized with ads. The 3 PAC is pulled from local results, but it is also monetized with booking info from the OTA's (the on line travel agents--from which google pulls $$$). In some cases though there isn't booking info. Individual hotels have pulled their data from the OTA's.

The restaurant views are different in that there is very little advertising in the industry or vertical. In that regard the monetization levels of the two verticals are starkly different.

There is a striking similarity though with the presentations: The info accompanying the 3 PAC for hotels and restaurants excludes all of the following:

No link to the site:
No phone #
No address
No map.

And with that....all I can ask is "WHAT GIVES"?

When a person searches for restaurants in their region and or a region they are visiting, isn't location, phone, map, link info VITAL?

Don't users want to know the addresses? or possibly a map.

Is it reasonable to assume searchers might be wondering if this restaurant is near me or not. Is it in a neighborhood I might want to visit or not? Is there parking there or not? Is it safe or not?

Apparently Google has decided that in the US users don't need this info. Google has withheld the info.

Search in google.co.uk. Look for a restaurant in a city. A big pac, phone numbers, links, maps.

Google is more helpful in Europe, isn't it?

Frankly I think these are the deliberately worse results possible. Google has all the contact info. Its been building vast data bases of each piece of this contact info for years and has been verifying it.

I guess google thinks only it merits the information and searchers don't. ----:D

What do you think?
2:25 am on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Greetings and Gidday from Dowunder folks

Been a while since I put in m2c, but hope some additional fodder for what's become known as the "pigeon" update, from a non US Yelp style directory site perspective, will be useful.

Why? I've seen a lot of chatter in some places that this update favours the "big directory players with deep pockets". Presumably, this plays into the "carousel" display debate. I haven't noticed the carousel much here in OZ SERPs, despite being in the tourism and travel vertical, but then, we cover more accommodation niches than just hotels, and we don't focus as heavily on restuarants, or transport like airlines.

Be assured, there are lots of us out here who have benefited from this update who are anything but big players, and we have pretty shallow pockets.

For now, we're watching anxiously but breathing a little easier.

On 27th September my stats showed a 12% jump in users/visitors to the site, with a 5-15% drop in bounce rate, and a 10-12% improvement in page views per session and time on site.

AND it seems to have held, given there were local factors at play that impacted the visitation stats (mainly G20 Brisbane mid November), and taking account of historic seasonal visitation patterns.

This translates to a staggering improvement of anywhere from 35-70% in the various performance metrics I watch for, over the same time last year, which was our rock bottom after falling off a cliff (about 35% loss of total traffic) with the Panda rollout in March 2012, ongoing updates and a little Penguin fallout.

Pigeon has been good to me. Yay!