are you near me? Changes in local search in 2028

If you’re a business that relies on local traffic, either in your store or on your website, local search terms are important to you. Being optimized for local search is an ever evolving process. Whether it’s changes to the terms people use, or the devices that they use to find you; making sure that you’re ready for the local search changes that 2018 has in store is paramount to having success online.

The main changes that are happening revolve around the growing number of devices that people use. We as marketers have to optimize everything around those shifts from desktop to mobile, and from mobile to IoT devices.

Optimize Local Listings

Optimizing local listings is the truest starting point in any local search. Because of search terms like “restaurants near me,” we need to make sure that our Google My Business pages, as well as Yahoo, and Bing local pages are fully fleshed out. This is especially important for mobile searchers. If your location, phone number, etc aren’t fleshed out they won’t be able to use that search term, find you, and have maps lead them to your front door.

If you haven’t claimed your listing, that’s the first thing you should do. After that there’s a number of things you can do to optimize your Google listing. Depending on the services you offer you should focus on what people would want to know when they’re looking for you.

For example, if you are a restaurant, of course you want to link to your website. But if people are just looking for restaurants near them, having quality photos of your food and menu can help people make quick decisions.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

If you were a search engine, how would you find the “best web design company in Ann Arbor?”  You’d use ratings, of course.

(excuse us while we brush some dirt off our shoulder)

Getting reviews from your customers can be a double edged sword however. If you don’t get great feedback then you’re probably not going to rank well for those things. But that’s what people want, and so do search engines. They want to see the best of whatever industry or service they’re looking for.

If you don’t have a lot of Google reviews, there are some ways to help the search engines gather data from other sources, such as social media. When it comes to the structured data element, Google gives you some of this information on how to help them.

Voice Search Keeps Growing

If you watch TV you know that tech toys like the Google Home Mini can help you turn your lights off, play music, and also order a pizza via your voice. The more affordable these Internet of Things (IoT) devices continue get, the more voice search will be a focus of local SEO.

So what’s the difference between voice search and text searching? Mainly it’s the length of the search term. Let’s use a real world example:

You’re vacuuming your floor and the belt breaks. You might grab your phone and type “vacuum belt for Bissell,” for example. It will net you results for belts, and some shopping ads. It’s basically what you want. You see that Walmart carries them, so you can pop over there and pick one up.

Now, in the same scenario you say, (in a perhaps frustrated tone) “Okay Google, who sells vacuum cleaner belts in Ann Arbor?” It would return you with store information for vacuum stores located in town and the directions to get you there.

Amazingly, (I did the same search online with voice search in the Chrome browser) and it netted me very few big box store results. So for small businesses like those above, voice search could be a real asset.

Conclusion

With a growing number of ways that people are finding our businesses, ensuring that you’re optimized for local search is more important than ever. If you haven’t made sure that you’re set up for success, now’s the time. Your business depends on potential customers finding you, and in a mobile search world, not doing so can have them literally passing you by.

Published 02/14/18 by Eric Lynch