Search Engine Watch recently reported that Google Local is beta testing a new carousel system for local search through which users can scroll results horizontally.
There are apparently two iterations of the new local search layout so far. The first features images of seven local businesses that match a user's query, plus Google Maps view, in a black bar above traditional link listings. The second iteration shows 10 local business listings across the top of a user's search results, with Google Maps located just below the images on the right side of the screen.
The new Google Local layout includes the number of reviews each business has and a link to the businesses' Google Plus pages. This new format gives local business owners more opportunities to be featured above the fold. It also showcases the importance of Google Maps marketing and Google Plus page local search strategy. Businesses that do not upload photos to their Google Plus pages will be featured with an image of their location on Google Maps. Having enticing photos and updated information is important when being compared side by side with so many competitors. Additionally, local businesses will benefit from encouraging customers to submit reviews, because places with many reviews generally generate a lot of buzz.