If you think about it, you'll probably realize that you search online for local businesses multiple times a day, whether you use Google Maps, a mobile device, a smart speaker, a tablet or a laptop.
An ever increasing numbers of companies recognize this and many of local businesses are focusing more on local SEO.
Effective local SEO practices change with time as search engine algorithms, consumer habits, and other elements evolve and develop.
To make things work properly, it's critical to keep your business aligned with the latest local SEO trends.
The list below provides 4 most essential and most recent local SEO trends to focus on now.
1. Local Is Becoming Hyperlocal
The importance of local search has been a hot topic for quite a while now. According to Google data, searches containing "near me" are increasingly an indicator of the intention to buy. Google's data also shows that variations of "to buy" and "can I buy" in combination with "near me" have increased by 500% since 2015.
The bottom line is that proximity has become progressively important when searching.
This has resulted in marketers focusing on hyperlocal marketing. Marketers are in fact already looking at individual streets, rather than only targeting certain neighborhoods or towns.
With search targeting being so hyperlocal, it improves the chances of finding pre-qualified customers. If an individual sees multiple results when searching "restaurant near me," they may in fact select the one nearest to them, even though its quality may be lower.
Although quality is still important, proximity does also matter. Hyperlocal targeting provides marketers with an opportunity to draw in customers who might otherwise have chosen a different option that is further away.
Proximity comes into play, in particular, when a mobile device is used to search, and "near me" searches on mobile present opportunities to get leads that are highly qualified. When a consumer is searching for something nearby, they are more likely to be willing to buy right away, without the need to travel too far to make the purchase.
2. Voice Search is Mostly Local
Local marketers should definitely pay more attention to voice, as it is becoming a major source of local search visibility. Although the market for smart speakers is still relatively new, more and more customers are using these to search, primarily for a local business.
According to research done by BrightLocal, more than75% of smart speaker owners use them for searching for a local business at least weekly, while 53% use them to search daily. That number is higher than users who use smartphones, computers or tablets to search for businesses.
According to the survey, most people commonly use voice searches to make reservations at a local bar, pub or restaurant.
Although the portion of the population that have smart speakers is not that high yet, it is considerable, and this will grow fast in the future. According to research done by OC&C Strategy Consultants, 13% of homes already had smart speakers in 2018, and it is expected the number will increase to 55% by 2022.
3. Your Own Website Still Matters
Even as Google My Business gradually becomes more important and Knowledge Panels aggregate more and more information, maintaining a business website remains crucial to engage with customers and ranking factors.
BrightLocal's research shows that 53% of customers look at a business website more than 50% of the time or even every time before selecting from which local business they will buy from. Most consumers also still trust a business' website more than Google My Business.
The study also shows that 57% of consumers trust that a local business websites' contact information will be accurate, while 33% will use to Google My Business and 11% go to online directories. More than half of consumers also indicated that if the contact information on a business website was out of date, they are not as likely to buy from that company.
Local businesses need to ensure that the information on Google My Business and their website is up-to-date and accurate.
Perform monthly or even audits searching your local queries using various devices, checking your website information and verifying it coincides with your social media channels.
4. Brand Mentions Can Break or Make Online Business
One factor that has become increasingly important for local search rankings is online brand mentions.
Google even uses online brand mentions in its algorithm nowadays. The frequency of brand mentions increases organic rankings, resulting in local ones improving too. Google also looks at the context of the mentions.
Online brand mentions help Google learn about brands and what should be associated with them
Other factors analyzed by Google includes advertising, trust amongst customer base, and how complaints are resolved online.
Google is essentially trying to assess a business's public reputation.
A business can boost their mentions and improve their reputation for Google by engaging with customers, earning mentions and creating content. Content should always be highly shareable, and companies may even consider working with influencers.
It is also crucial to engage with customers via reviews, complaints and comments. Businesses monitoring and responding to both negative and positive reviews will have an advantage over competitors who ignore them.
Takeaways: Local SEO Trends and What to Do to Get Your Business Ready
- Local searching is becoming hyperlocal: Use precise advertising and targeting settings to catch customers nearby
- Voice search is growing and it is mostly local. Optimize your site for voice and mobile searching, i.e. make it lightning fast, responsive and easy to navigate
- Your business website is still very important: Make sure it is always updated with your new working hours, contact information and special offers.
- Brand mentions are strong ranking signals, so make sure you are monitoring yours and responding to all mentions and reviews in a timely manner
Local SEO is changing constantly and it is critical that you stay on top of it to make sure you get the most benefit out of your SEO strategy.