Google launched "Local Carousel" in June and since then SEOs & marketers have been making attempts to reverse engineer the ranking variables responsible for elevation in listings.
Digital Marketing Works (DMW) has recently conducted a study on "Carousel results" & revealed that the quality and quantity of Google reviews are the most important factors in determining the ranking and inclusion.
More than 4,500 search results were examined in the hotel category in 47 cities of the US. Each SERP has a Carousel result. Here's the methodology of the study, as explained in the DMW's verbatim discussion:
For the top 10 hotels of each search, we collected the hotel’s name, rating, quantity of reviews, and rank (as displayed in Carousel). We also recorded the travel time and distance from each hotel to Google’s definition of the given city . . .
Our research yielded approximately 42,000 data points, including data on approximately 1,900 distinct hotels . . .
Our study look[ed] for correlations between a hotel’s rank in a search result with each of the following: 1) Google review rating (out of five stars), 2) quantity of Google reviews, 3) travel time from the hotel to the searched city, and 4) driving distance from the hotel to the searched city. We can look for these correlations within all combinations of query type (like “best hotels in…”) and market tier. For example, we were not surprised to see a strong correlation between rank and travel time/distance: closer hotels ranked higher.
The four main findings from the study were:
- The Carousel ranks highly correlates with Google review ratings. The DMW study also found an equally strong correlation with hotel's quantity of Google review.
- Distance and travel time are two ranking variables.
- Google is weighting results on the basis of more distinctive understanding of inferred user intent and queries.
- he ranking variables and findings are true for small & large markets.
DMW also said that third party reviews (on Yelp etc) are having an impact on the Carousel rankings.Google Reviews Determine Local Carousel Rankings: Reveals DMW!,