If you've done any Google searches lately, you may have noticed a new feature taking over the top of your search engine results page (SERP). This new feature changes the SERP landscape yet again, placing even more of an emphasis on local listing performance. A carry-over from tablet searches, the interactive "carousel" of local dining, nightlife and hotels displays images and other pertinent information related to the search. Sourced from Google+ Local pages, these placards display an image, the Zagat rating, the address, and how many reviews are available for each property. Mouse over a property and a pin is raised on the map corresponding to that property. When an image is clicked, the SERP refreshes to display an organic search of the property's brand name. Another shuffle of the SERP makes local search optimization even more important. Sorted by the local search algorithm – which is separate than the organic search algorithm – these results are powered by Google+ Local. Only the carousel, paid ads, and Google Hotel Finder are above the fold, regardless of monitor size, making it crucial for hotels to have a local presence. Just like in organic search there is no guarantee of placement, but a quality optimization of the property's local presence will greatly boost performance. Placement is crucial on SERPs. While there are no statistics yet on the impact the carousel has on traffic or revenue, a recent study from Chitika found that the top listing in Google's organic search results received 33 percent of traffic compared to 18 percent for the second position. Additionally, first-page results attracted 92 percent of all traffic from the average search. With the new carousel feature, we expect to see branded search traffic increase as users click on the image and enter the site through the refreshed branded search as opposed to entering the site through non-branded searches. Get the full story at HeBS Read also "Google officially rolls out local carousel display in US for hotel searches", and "The Google Knowledge Graph carousel as it relates to hotel searches."