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Google has officially launched their new “Local Search Carousel.”

Now, when you search for local businesses, instead of just displaying local restaurants, hotels, bars,  or any other local brick and mortar in the traditional SERP format, Google has added an interactive “carousel” to the top of the local results page.

While this new look has been in beta since December, it’s now been officially launched and expanded to desktops as well as iPad and Nexus tablets, with new looks, languages and features still to come, said Google. As of now, the carousel is available only in limited verticals (specific examples include: hotels, bars, and restaurants), and is only available for english queries within the US.

So, what does this mean for your business?

The addition of this interactive carousel to the local search results will have a big impact, not just for searchers, but for local businesses too.

If your business isn’t ranking in the precious top few results above the fold, then Google carousel has the power to significantly boost your visibility and drive more traffic and new leads to your site. Now, even without ranking in the top SERP spots, businesses can still get their sites powerful exposure at the top of the page, complete with image.

In order to make the most of this opportunity, businesses should:

1. Encourage positive user reviews. Because your star rating will be on full display, working to improve your ratings and reviews is key. And, enough great reviews on your Google business listing will give you a score on a 30-pt scale–think: Zagat Guide–and that score will show up in your results, increasing your exposure and enticing searchers to click.

2. Optimize your Google listing. If more people are going to be seeing your local listing, you’ll want to make sure that it’s optimized. Make sure your NAP information (name, address, and phone number) as well as any other important information like hours, for example, are updated and accurate.

3. Pick the ideal image. With Google displaying thumbnails in their carousel, making sure that that image is not only representative of your business, but eye-catching as well, is essential. Choose an image that shows your business’ best attributes, but just as importantly, an image that stands out from the crowd.