Google is updating its search results pages on the desktop today to show an interactive “carousel” of nearby restaurants, bars and other local places.
It works as expected; type in a query such as “Italian restaurants” and Google will bring up a horizontal grid of businesses close to your current location. Clicking on the image or name of the result will display further details, such as its address, relevant photos and an aggregated review score.
“And you can zoom in on the map that appears below the carousel to restrict your search to only places in a specific area,” the company revealed in a Google+ post.
The feature is rolling out in English for users based in the United States today. The “carousel” has been available for a selection of iPad and tablet users since December, but this is the first time that it’s hit the desktop, where a much wider number of users can access it.
The addition signals a renewed push by Google to serve up contextual information based on the location of the user. It’s the same strategy being used by Foursquare at the moment, although Google has a much wider reach due to its influence on the Web and desktop.
Google+ was updated in March, for example, with a new “Local reviews” tab that has since been condensed to just “Local” in the most recent redesign. It recommends popular places based on the user’s position and was later bolstered in May with a new Locations section for the Google+ Android app.
Google also updated the Google Places API to feature establishments listed and recommended by Zagat, a restaurant-rating group also owned by Google.
Local businesses that are listed prominently at the top of the search results page should receive a massive boost in interest from Google’s users. The new feature will improve the quality of the service for users, but also give Google a new potential revenue stream. If they can prove that being positioned in the “carousel” improves foot traffic, businesses will be stepping over each other to be listed there.
Image Credit – Getty Images