It’s 2019 and the market is showing a more heightened, more pronounced support towards local businesses. So, it’s imperative for businesses to turn their attentions to Local SEO. Local SEO is that part of SEO optimised specifically for local search. If you’ve ever made a search entry on Google, say about “pizza places” and you see one of the predictive, autocomplete texts below as “pizza places near me” or perhaps “pizza places near (specific location)” then you’ll know what I mean.
Local SEO embraces all aspects of SEO—which is already an effective strategy on its own—but mainly focuses on geographic-related queries. The content, keywords, on-site SEO is locally optimised and quite different from the organic. While it’s for everyone willing to share their business information to the public, Local SEO’s primarily helpful for brick-and-mortar businesses who wants to gain visibility online.
Search Engine Journal’s Local SEO guide introduced the importance of Local SEO by laying out some statistics worth looking into:
- 50% of people who did local search visited the physical store within the day
- 78% of local-based search end up in offline purchases
Despite the pleasing statistics, it appears that many businesses are still falling behind the whole idea of Local SEO. But it’s 2019 and with Google innovating their algorithms for Local SEO, you can no longer ignore it. In this list, we serve you some Local SEO trends for 2019 (and beyond) that can help your business achieve local search visibility:
- Power in local content
- Thinking beyond Google
- Rising voice search
- NAP consistency
- Trusted brand mentions
- Optimisation of Google My Business listing
Power in local content
We are starting this list with one of the most vital Local SEO trends that has stood the test of time—content. More specifically, local content. Content is still the undisputed king of digital marketing, utilised primarily not only in optimising organic SEO but as well as the local. So how do you go about powering your local content to achieve better local SEO ranking?
Well first, keep in mind that most search inquiries nowadays are local. Think “salons near me”. Or “app development costs in Singapore”. So, making sure that you plan your content with users’ local search queries in mind helps connect you to your audience. People who turn to search browsers are looking to have their needs answered. Most of these needs are personal and location specific.
Whatever format you want your content to be, be sure to pepper it with local references that are useful and relevant to your community. For example, you own a hair salon. You can blog about local hair styling competitions within your area or even invite influencers (like vloggers) to endorse your services for you by sponsoring their treatments. This augments the experience for your prospects and helps them decide better.
Thinking beyond Google
Not everyone uses Google to find local businesses or services near them, especially those using voice searches on their smart mobile devices. Some don’t even have Google as their default search engine.
Yes, it’s impressive that Google eats up about 92% of the whole search engine market share for 2019. However, the rise of voice assistants—which don’t necessarily use data from the search engine giant—may mean losing out on audiences who rely on voice search. Take Amazon Echo. Instead of Google, the voice assistant pulls its data from Bing. A Google-centered approach can be limiting. It can lead you to miss out on a bulk of users reliant on voice searches.
IBM’s senior SEO strategist Keith Goode remarks that businesses and SEO strategists must be prepared to meet the users “where they’re coming from” which isn’t limited to Google.
Rising voice search
Tied to the popularity of voice assistants, voice search is gaining a foothold among users as of late. We’ve gone from typing-in our searches to speaking directly to our smart devices. Even tech giant Microsoft has upped their voice transcription algorithm so that it matches human accuracy. Although still not at par with more complex, more intricate searches online, the usability of voice assistance and searches for simpler queries is gaining momentum. It’s one of the local SEO trends you can no longer ignore in 2019 and beyond.
iPhone’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa is leveraged by users who’d rather speak to their devices than type-in their queries. A BrightLocal research says that 75% of smart speaker owners use the device to look up local businesses weekly. Make sure you’re optimised to accommodate these voice searches so you can leverage this against competitors who only rely on traditional SEO to do the work for them.
NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) consistency is important so you don’t confuse users. It’s more important, however, for not confusing search engines. So, while you optimise your strategy for local SEO trends, make sure you don’t leave the nitty-gritty details unchecked. Start with confirming the accuracy of your business information.
If search engines pick up differing information pertaining to your business, then it wouldn’t display you. People need this information to be exact so they could connect with you. Fail this and they go to your nearest competition.
Your listings may be scattered across the web, so make sure that these listings are saying the same thing. Coherent business hours, updated location, and name changes (if any) must be visible. Moz Local helps check the consistency of your listings’ information, checking it for disparities you haven’t spotted, and helping you update all listings for accuracy.
Trusted brand mentions
Another way to boost your local search ranking is through online brand mentions. Brand mentions encompass organic shares, engagement, and responses to reviews (both the good and the bad).
One of the easiest ways to earn a brand mention is by creating compelling, shareable content that appeals to your target audience. For better local optimisation, some businesses even create content based on local events. Search engines monitor these—as well as other indicators—to check your trustworthiness. Brand mentions not only help you rank well on local searches, but also shape your reputation so you appear more reliable to users.
Aside from creating shareable content, try engaging and responding to your reviewers, too. Your responses show search engines, especially Google, how you handle good reviews but more so the complaints. This, in turn, allows Google to determine your business’s reputation, which is something prospects need to see for them to trust you.
Google My Business optimisation
Our previous blog posts circled Google My Business—GMB’s worthiness and importance for staying locally relevant, as well as some optimisation strategies to jumpstart your own listing. All these for good reason. As mentioned earlier, Google’s continuously updating their algorithm to improve local search results. They’re adding more to the Knowledge Panel, making sure users find exactly what they need to assess a business without leaving Google.
Google My Business is vital for improving your visibility on local searches. Not only that, GMB is also an effective platform for marketing your business. Like other social media assets, a verified Google My Business profile can post content, allow users or searchers to secure appointments or bookings, and verify a product or service information. With searches being done through search engines, Google My Business—especially the Knowledge Panel—acts as a catch all that conveniently lays out your business information to prospects when they need it.
Be guided by these Local SEO trends for 2019 and beyond.
While it’s a must to keep your eyes open for common SEO mistakes, failing to optimise your strategy for the local market can limit your overall market reach. Buyers are starting to show heightened penchant towards a more conscious, more local brands. So, a nudge towards that direction means a lot for your own visibility.