Google constantly tinkers with how it presents its search results, but it has just rolled out a significant upgrade that changes the landscape of local listings, including those for the Lehigh Valley.

The new image carousel (see it here) is part of Google’s larger Knowledge Graph initiative, which explores more visual ways of presenting search results and information.

To see it in action, open a new browser window for google.com and then search for “Italian restaurants Lehigh Valley” (or your home city).

You’ll see a scrollable image bar at the top of the page representing all of the restaurants. This is certainly a livelier and more colorful look for the usually text-heavy Google.

Next, note that as you mouse over the images, corresponding map pins pop up a restaurant name label, as well as a link to customer reviews.

Click on a carousel image, and the restaurant’s full information appears in a Knowledge Graph box on the right, including address, phone, prices, hours and more.

Click heat-map studies have already shown that nearly half of organic search clicks go to the carousel when it is present on a search results page. This makes the carousel a powerful component of local search and SEO.

How to make sure you get your turn on the carousel? The utility pulls its images and information from your Google+ Local page (formerly known as Google Places), so here’s one more reason to claim your Google+ Local page, if you haven’t already, and add some great images, marketing copy, and accurate location and hours information.

See more digital marketing posts by Fred Zahradnik