Carousel Rankings Correlated with Web Mentions?

Danny Sullivan reported yesterday that a new search algorithm is in place for more complex search queries. We read his post, and then went on to Google and searched ‘Impressionist painters’. On first glance, we found it interesting how the search results look quite similar to the local carousel results Google rolled out earlier this summer.

Then, we noticed the phrase above the impressionist painting’s new search carousel, “Artists frequently mentioned on the web”

Impressionist Painters 700x227 Carousel Rankings Correlated with Web Mentions?
Our wheels started turning…

Particularly, we began looking at the number of mentions (searching the name in quotes) across the web for each painter, and the results are intriguing:

Screen Shot 2013 09 26 at 3.59.04 PM Carousel Rankings Correlated with Web Mentions?

The numbers are not fully convincing, but there is a correlation between number of mentions and the order of appearance in the new carousel results. So, we looked a little further…

How Mentions Correlate in the Local Carousel

Knowing that we have already done a clicktest to explore where people are clicking on the local carousel results, we tested this newly formed mention theory on the local carousel results for the same query we used in that test, “Pizza Denver.”

Denver Pizza 700x213 Carousel Rankings Correlated with Web Mentions?


Then, we searched the name of each business in quotes to get the number of mentions, and they are as follows:

Screen Shot 2013 09 26 at 4.17.02 PM Carousel Rankings Correlated with Web Mentions?

Again, the numbers have a loose correlation between ranking (ranking actually being something that is up for debate in the carousel), but if our clicktest is indicative of the CTR in the carousel, the third carousel result would be a decent place to be, and a possible reason behind Sexy Pizza’s placement in the carousel if the mention theory holds water:

Screen Shot 2013 09 26 at 4.08.40 PM Carousel Rankings Correlated with Web Mentions?

In Conclusion:

This insight really changes nothing. The push has been, for quite a while now, to do real marketing rather than algorithm manipulation. The more your brand is mentioned across the web, the more people are talking about you, the more relevant your business is, and the higher you will show up in search results. Simple.

These numbers, if nothing else, beg for some further investigation.

Have any insights we may have missed? Have you seen any other direct correlations between mentions and ranking?

About the Author

John Van Bockern

For John, it's helping businesses grow. It's why he dedicates himself to developing undeniably useful digital content strategies. When he is not doing that, he builds things, writes stories, or ventures into the woods. Connect with John on Twitter or Google+.


  1. Kyle Alm on September 27th, 2013 5:37 pm

    That’s an interesting theory, but i bet that it carousel results correlates with links than mentions.

    It is probably a good bet that there is a link to the pizza establishment in Denver for every mention or for impressionist painters when they get mentioned.

    1. Jason Stovall on September 27th, 2013 6:18 pm

      Wondering how this will effect local businesses. Will it help carousal rankings if a business owner gets customers/clients to mention them often on FB, Twitter, ..etc?

      @Kyle Alm interesting thought about the link to the pizza place … :-)

      Final thought. Will mentions alone be sufficient enough to get a business ranked in the SERPs. On page and off page SEO matters but what if a business has non of these or has not setup their G+ Local or lets take it further, not even a website? Will mentions still help with rankings over these other absolute steps?

      1. Matt Labuda on September 28th, 2013 2:03 pm

        Hey John,

        Interesting theory here, and thanks to Casey for posting as well – hope all’s well, buddy!

        While similar principles apply, I do think there are some fundamental differences between the algorithm behind a Knowledge Graph carousel versus a Local business carousel. More directional information such as review totals, ratings, NAP consistency exist, which allow Google to cater their results better. Knowledge Carousels have much less information to help understand what a user would want to see, so mentions become a primary factor.

        I was also wondering about whether or not each of the businesses you searched for above have multiple, separately run locations (ex: are there 10 Sully’s Pizzas around the world operated by different people?). Something to consider when analyzing raw mention totals.

        Thanks guys!


        1. Frank Scharnell on October 1st, 2013 4:19 pm

          Awesome post John!

          After talking about this a bit I’m glad to see it so well presented. While it may be more of a look ahead it makes perfect sense that we will begin to see more mentions play a factor in in rankings or correlation to this as we already see a similar process with the local search engine results. As NAP(structured or unstructured) is a direct link to the between information Google is processing and search engine results. Though I think the knowledge graph is the first dip into this is makes for a great test platform for them.

          This will be a topic to keep an eye on for marketers since it could indicate a shift from link building to traditional marketing exposure/mentions.

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