To stay ahead of the competition in local SEO (local search), you need to keep on top of the ever-changing trends, understand how you can get involved, and learn what to look out for. The most effective practices for improving local SEO change over time with shifts in consumer habits, search engine algorithm updates, and other factors. For your business to be successful, it’s crucial that you keep up with the latest trends in local SEO.
Here is our list of the top five trends all local business owners and marketers should be aware of in 2019:
1. Proximity is king
When Google provides local search results to users proximity has always been the driving force behind these results. Even if a competitor’s website has stronger ranking signals, if it is not in the desired search range, it won’t come up in a local search. While this might seem like bad news, it’s actually a great way for new (and smaller) businesses to reach customers who would otherwise favour larger and more established businesses.
Of course, quality still matters, but proximity seems to be becoming more important in 2020. Proximity targeting gives marketers the opportunity to capture some customers who would have otherwise chosen another option (possibly a more established and larger competitor) located further away. People value proximity, especially when searching on mobile devices, and mobile “near me” searches are an opportunity to reach highly qualified leads. Often, a search like this indicates someone is likely to make a purchase imminently.
This means that it’s critical for your business to have a “Google My Business” profile with up to date information, including the correct address, contact information, and opening hours listed.
2. Online reviews and online brand mentions
Online reviews and brand mentions are becoming increasingly important for search and local SEO rankings. In fact, Google now uses online brand mentions in its algorithm. The inflation of brand mentions improves organic rankings, which in turn improve local ones. Google also takes into account the context in which those mentions occur.
Google now analyzes factors such as trust amongst customers, advertising, and how an organization responds to and resolves complaints online. This means that businesses now must manage reviews and mentions in Google and in social media much more closely. It’s critical that you should be actively reviewing and responding to any and all reviews and ratings your company may receive in Google, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media platform to maintain high rankings.
3. Paid ads (Google ads and social media ads) will become an important factor
Google ads (AdWords) and social media ads have long been a popular choice for businesses of all sizes to get in front of customers (and show up before their competitors’ organic listings or posts). However, so far local businesses, especially small and home-based businesses were not worried quite as much about paying for search results. Expect this to change in 2020 as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media platforms are looking for more ways to monetize local searches. As an example, Google is starting to give priority to paid ads for local searches and maps. If this trend continues, it will become increasingly difficult to reach your target market without running Google ads.
4. Stay on top of local SEO trends in 2020
Local SEO is constantly evolving. What worked in 2019 might not work in 2020. It’s critical to stay on top of the latest trends, so you can get the best results. Incorporate these strategies and measure the results. You will quickly see which strategies are working the best and which ones need to be tweaked. If you continue to analyze the results and make changes when necessary, you can develop a powerful local SEO strategy.
5. Your website is still VERY important
Even as social media reviews and mentions, and Google My Business become increasingly important, maintaining your website is still vital for ranking factors and engaging with customers. Research shows that most customers check business websites every time or more than half the time when they’re deciding which local business to visit, and the majority of customers trust the information on the business websites more than the information on Google My Business.
It’s very important then that your website is well-designed, works well on mobile, and shows professionalism. It’s also critical that all the information listed is well-written, and the contact information is up-to-date.