Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Google is experimenting with new “Local Business Cards” in search results. That’s our term, not Google’s, but it’s a reasonable description of a new card carousel test that features content from local businesses near the top of search results.
This was first spotted by Mike Blumenthal, but I have confirmed with Google that this is a real test. Local Business Cards are built on the same display functionality as Candidate Cards, launched a few weeks ago.
Below are two screenshots that showcase local businesses participating in the test: Healthy Choice Massage and Escape Pod Comics.

Right now this is a pure experiment involving a “few dozen” local businesses that Google approached. It’s all custom content and not being drawn from Google My Business or any other feeds. It’s also noteworthy for the fact that it represents the first time that Google has introduced or allowed animation/GIFs on the search results page.
The format was created with mobile users in mind but it equally displays in PC results. On the desktop, Local Business Cards appear immediately adjacent to the Knowledge Panel featuring that business (as in the examples above and below). On mobile it’s below the Knowledge Panel equivalent.
As with the Candidate Cards, the intent is to allow the business to communicate something directly in search results — content or information highlighting the business’ products or services in ways that the Knowledge Panel doesn’t quite allow. Content is also shareable directly from within the carousel.

The feature could be quite significant for local SEO, but Google has apparently made no decisions about whether it will roll Local Business Cards out more broadly or whether larger enterprises (i.e., national-local businesses or franchises) would be able to participate.


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