Yesterday I shared some insight regarding what you need to know about Google’s local carousel. Over the last 24 hours or so I have been observing various results I come across, looking for differences, changes, etc. And then earlier this morning something major stood out. A change that came with the local carousel that no one seems to be talking about, yet it has a major impact on local businesses. Look closely at the image below. Do you see anything missing?
If you said ads, you’re right. Strangely, with the launch of the local carousel Google appears to have cut out a chunk of revenue for itself as well as some prime paid real estate for local restaurants.
What’s interesting about the change however, is that this only appears to be impacting restaurants and night life. Searches for hotels still display ads from the big players both below the carousel and on the right hand side, as you can see below.
When I first ran some test queries they were in Corona and Costa Mesa. Since I wasn’t very familiar with the restaurant search space I initially thought that maybe there just wasn’t enough PPC competition in the area. So I decided to take a stab at Los Angeles, after all someone in L.A. has to be dumping some cash into showing up at the top of the search results for sushi. Again, no ads. So I head over to AOL and ran the same query. Thankfully it doesn’t appear that all the sushi restaurants in Los Angeles have pulled out of paid advertising, Google just isn’t giving them any love in their search results. But why the change?
I have a few theories about this. The first, Google slipped up. Perhaps this is just glitch and the feature is so new that nobody is going to notice until the payments from local restaurants stop rolling in to Google at the end of June. The second, Google’s got something big and paid planned for local businesses.
The reason I suspect something big and paid is in the cards is that this is the second product in the last few months with local flavor that has been unusually ad free. First, the new Google Maps rolled out sans the search listings and ads. Now, certain queries in the local carousel remove ads completely. This creates a prime opportunity for Google to release a new paid advertising product aimed at local businesses that integrates with the new systems.
Ultimately only time will tell what Google’s end game is, but if you’re in the restaurant or nightlift space and you were throwing money into paid advertising, chances are your bill is going to be a bit smaller this month.
What do you think of the change? What do you suppose Google has up its sleeve for the restaurant and nightlife market?