Google’s Carousel Has Yelp in its Path

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has added what it’s calling a ‘carousel’ feature to its search results pages for local bars and restaurants, a feature that will allow Google to compete with Yelp (NYSE:YELP) while improving its own search engine.

In an announcement on Google+, Google said the new carousel feature would work with Google Maps to give users a faster way to locate businesses in a given location. After making a search, users can zoom in on the map below the carousel list of businesses to refine the location of the search further. While it’s currently only available in English, Google promised the feature would be available in more languages and gain more services over time.

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The carousel has been available on iPad and other tablets since December, but is now being launched for desktop users in the U.S. The feature brings up a horizontal grid of different businesses when searching for restaurants, bars, or coffee shops in a given area. Clicking on one of the options will pull up the business’s address and customer reviews.

Google has been pushing to provide users with more location-based information when searching the web. The carousel service is meant to quickly give users the name and location of popular businesses near them, and businesses featured at the top of search will likely get a boost from the exposure. If being featured at the front of the carousel proves to increase foot traffic, it will provide Google with additional revenue as businesses pay to be listed at the top of the search.

For now it seems like the service is based primarily on food and drink establishments, which helps Google promote its Zagat restaurant-rating group. An article from iDigital Times said that a search for “bike shops” or “comic book stores” did not pull up the carousel grid, but searching for “Mexican restaurants” or “coffee shops” did.

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As Google’s new carousel search display gains more types of businesses it will become an even stronger Yelp competitor, as users who Google certain businesses will instantly be provided with locations and reviews without having to click through to Yelp’s site.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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