Have you seen a sudden influx of carousels across many social media platforms? Image carousels are a 4-5 slideshow of impactful content, with some images and videos peppered in, helping businesses communicate to their buyers in an effective visual format.
A study of over 22 million Instagram carousel posts showed that posts with carousels were the most successful. Carousels help businesses establish themselves on Instagram as they boost organic search traffic.
But, image carousels are not just limited to Instagram. Carousels across a variety of platforms have become critical to a brand’s visibility. Google Search and Maps is no different.
As Google Search becomes more nuanced, not optimizing search results as per the latest developments is a missed opportunity for brands.
What are Google Carousel Results?
Carousel Search results can improve user experience by offering visual results that the searcher can quickly skim through and interact with. A user will see these results in a row side-by-sdie after they hit Enter on their Google search on desktop or mobile devices. Note not every search query will have carousel results.
The ones that do will have these results usually appear somewhere at the top of the page above the standard text-based search results. Optimizing your content with carousels in mind can help improve search visibility and stand out.
These carousels feature images or videos, or movie listings. Within mobile search results, these carousel results could also include listicles.
Users won’t necessarily have to go on the Images tab to see image carousels. Google’s algorithm will determine if images are the best result to show for a particular search query.
But how does Google determine which images to show? A marketer has to optimize the carousel items (in terms of alt tags, file names, etc.) to ensure that Google finds the images relevant enough to feature in the carousel.
To help boost your chances of Google surfacing a piece of media, the file naming should be specific and clear so that Google knows exactly what the image is about and can match it with the user intent, which also happens to be one of the 5 things that can harm your search rankings if not done correctly. Here are a few tips to boost your chances of inclusion in carousel items on Google:
- Make it easy for the search engine to know what your image is about.
- Be original so that it sees your images as a value addition to the search results.
- Leverage Title tags and descriptions to give Google all the context it needs to understand your media.
- Use a descriptive image file name rather than something generic.
For example, let’s assume you are a pasta sauce brand. If a user is looking for pasta recipes, ensure that your image file name is descriptive. This could mean labeling your images as precisely as possible, i.e., including the word “homemade” or mentioning whether it is a white sauce or red sauce. Labeling them as “pasta sauce” across the board will not be useful.
Consider the keywords that the user may enter in their search query. These are clues that tell Google that you are the right fit for anyone looking for homemade white sauce pasta recipes.
You can supplement the above with SEO best practices for Google images.
Will following all optimization practices guarantee a place in the image carousel results? Not necessarily, but it will certainly get the ball rolling.
A collection of videos can display on top in both desktop and mobile searches for a particular search result. Let’s use the same pasta sauce brand example.
Google may include a carousel with videos sourced from YouTube and blogs featuring pasta recipes. The carousel videos may include markers for relevant portions within the video, along with the title of the video and the channel/site it belongs to.
This kind of organic visibility is invaluable. If your brand operates in a niche that requires tutorials, reviews, unboxing, etc., focusing on video carousels can help generate a majority of your traffic. This could be anything from cooking tutorials to how-to videos on dryer vent cleaning. When a user searches for these and finds your videos, you also get views for your channel.
The rules for video are similar to the ones for images. Do the following to give Google context:
- Be specific and original in your title.
- Include keywords in your title and video description.
- Create an appealing thumbnail, so the user picks your video from the rest in the carousel.
- Time-stamp the video and add relevant markers and captions to make it easier for Google to understand what your video covers.
- SEO experts also note that you should check the usual length for high-ranking videos for a particular topic.
Interesting Finds are relevant listicle articles that appear as an interactive carousel list when a user makes a query for which there are blog posts around the topic, such as “14 things to do..” or “7 places to visit…” etc. Users may also see Interesting Finds for non-listicle searches. Review blogs often find their way into Interesting Finds for consumer product and service inquiries.
Interesting Finds will only surface for mobile searches. Brands found that their organic search traffic on mobile searches remained strong because of this SERP feature.
Some made it to the Interesting Finds list and the regular search results, thus “double-dipping” into the SERPs. Only the first three would be visible. If your article appears among these, that automatically qualifies as an impression. If it’s in the rest of the twenty results, the user will have to scroll down.
One note regarding Interesting Finds is they’ve gone missing from mobile SERP features in July 2022. Instead of Interesting Finds, users now see videos, product listings, “Top Stories,” and other such carousel collections. Still, it is essential to know about this feature, in case it makes a reappearance.
These are visual results incorporated within a regular search result rather than appearing on top as a separate collection. Think IMDB carousels listing movies featuring Chris Hemsworth or a recipe website showing its collection of pasta recipes in a carousel format. A travel blog may list restaurants as part of a carousel. This “nested” version of carousels gives a more detailed view of a particular search result before the user clicks on the link. You are no longer competing with other websites to make it to the carousel — you just make your own.
When you wish to host carousels, ensure that your data is structured under one of the following:
Hosting is important because it allows you to show related or all-encompassing content on the search result page.
Just like you can “host” or embed your carousels within a search result, Google does something similar based on what it has gleaned from a topic and user search intent. When a user looks for something in a niche, Google creates a list, such as “best of” within the searched niche, ” “most famous,” etc. This is Google’s way of showing users the most commonly searched and relevant entities.
How can you appear on this type of list? Try to get high-quality backlinks from relevant listicles, make a detailed About Us page and ensure your website includes anything that can get you featured, such as awards, authoritative mentions, and so on.
Use text optimizer tools to understand why Google chose a particular brand in your niche as part of its Knowledge Base. Create content around those keywords that prompted Google to include those brands to optimize for this coveted carousel.
How to Use Google’s New Posts Image Carousel
It’s not just Google Search results that have carousels. Posts on Google Business Profiles help a brand’s location visibility in local searches and can also include image carousels. Even though views and scrolls through Google Posts image carousels are not a reportable metric, you can still gauge if the carousels are making a difference with A/B testing of Google posts with duplicate copy but use different pictures.
Google Business Profile (GBP) signals help enhance Local Pack rankings and users find out more about your services, from timings, prices, descriptions of services, and other important information. Adding carousels to it can make it more valuable and visually attractive. Localized content helps brands boost their local web presence, and carousels enhance this local content.
Follow these tips to use GBP Posts Image Carousel.
How to Insert an Image Carousel on a Google Site
Once you open your site in new Google Sites, here’s how you can insert the carousel:
- Find the option to insert “image carousel.”
- Click on the option to add images, choose two or more images, and order them in your desired sequence.
- Add alt text and captions to the photos to help Google understand their relevance.
- Head to the “edit carousel” option under Settings to check whether the transition speed is appropriate. Too fast, and you risk putting off users who are slow readers, not native speakers, or have some kind of reading difficulty. Prolonged transitions can leave the user impatient. You can also add the option that requires the user to manually move through the carousel instead.
- Click “insert” to place the Image Carousel on your Google Sites page.
With the strategic execution of image carousels (or the other carousel types mentioned above), you can boost your brand’s online presence. And, if you need help to start your image carousel, strategy we’re here to help.