How is the Changing Face of Google Search Affecting Local Businesses Like Yours?

By: jlucy668
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Entrepreneurs and SEO experts have spent years for that one moment of marketing magic where their strategies click. In reality, if you do not know what you are doing, you might end up waiting for decades before your lucky break. Search engine optimization and marketing do not depend on luck. They rely on trend-dependent strategizing and the expert’s understanding of the market. Traditional SEO has taken a backseat for quite a few years now. It is the time for local and hyper-local SEO. Thanks to the latest search trends and the recent Google search engine algorithm updates, local search engine optimization has taken a strong foothold in the realm of online marketing.

Local SEO is a combination of optimized content, new URL structures, schema markup updates and optimization of the Google My Business (GMB) profiles of a business. It has gained precedence over the last couple of years due to the rise in mobile searches and a sharp drop in the old-school desktop searches that use desktop versions of search engines.

 

What are the local searches?

Over 70% of the searches now involve mobile devices. Voice searches have become a significant part of the regular search results and searches in the lines of “Open pizza places, near me” are very common. While there are no geo-qualifiers like pin codes or locality names in this particular search, but Google understands that the intention is to find local information only. Therefore, if you are conducting the same search from Rochester, and then, from Buffalo, you will get different results for the same search. Visit Craig Tuttle Marketing to learn more about geo-specificity in local search queries.

Incidentally, the search is equivalent to “Open Pizza places in Rochester.” The way your business shows up as a part of the SERP depends on how well you have optimized for your local business listing. Google currently uses a 3-pack of local listing for the results. The top 3 results that appear following a query contain the map location of the businesses along with the contact number and address. Some enterprises also refer to this as the “snack pack.”

 

What determines your position in the Google “snack pack”?

Whether your business ranks within the top three results will depend solely on how well you have optimized your WebPages for the search engine. Traditional SEO may have taken a backseat, but the traditional practices of optimization have prevailed through the tides of time.

  • One of the first signals that contribute to the position is the address of your business. In case, you do not mention the exact locality of your business or shop; then you cannot expect Google to rank you for a search relevant to that particular area.
  • Pay attention to your NAP (name, address and phone number). The details of NAP you provide on GMB should be identical to your website NAP. Additionally, Yelp, Zomato, and TripAdvisor (any other third-party business listing website) should include the identical details of your business.
  • Google has its rules for determining the efficacy of a geo-qualifier. It is impossible for amateur SEO experts to find out about the algorithm or the search engine’s priorities for the process.

To know the location of your business with certainty, go to the exact location on Google maps. Do not search by the name of your business. Conduct a search by typing the zip code, city, and town. Check how Google usually defines your location and include that in your GMB description.

 

If Local SEO commands all the attention, what happens to traditional SEO?

According to an interesting array of studies, SEO experts had conducted in the past few months, the businesses that turned up within the first three search results of Google Local searches or Google Maps searches, also performed very well during traditional SEO queries. This shows that if you take care of your local SEO, the traditional optimization takes care of itself. Google is laying strong emphasis on local results right now.

The Google SERP depends on a number of on-page and off-page signals, that include –

  • On-page SEO
  • External links to the pages
  • Domain authority of the page
  • Domain authority of outbound links
  • Internal links between relevant pages
  • The updating of Google My Business page
  • Location of the business

Due to an older update from Google, a number of search results without geo-qualifiers can show on the results. However, this is only true if there are no other businesses in the same locality, with geo-qualifiers, competing for the same positions.

 

How can local SEO increase your visibility?

Part of the advantage of ranking for local SEO is increasing your chances of ranking other domains (like the third-party business listing sites) for the local search results. Since they have the identical NAP of your business, chances of you showing up for the same local query becomes much higher upon local optimization.

Sometimes, when you are running a Google Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign, you have the chance of ranking for the 4 different types of listings on the very first page –

  • The sponsored ad content.
  • The Google Map
  • The business directory mention
  • The business website

 

What to do if you do not have a brick-and-mortar store?

For businesses that lack a physical storefront, optimizing for a local pack was impossible to even a couple of days ago. However, you can rank more than one domain for the local search queries. When you invest in the optimization of multiple domains, you gain the opportunity to qualify the multiple websites for geo-specific queries on Google. This is a little trickier than optimization of a brick-and-mortar business on the web since it is almost in the neighborhood of black-hat. However, with the right SEO team on your side, you should be able to work on the domain optimization while staying on the good-book of Google.

Local SEO can open up the door of your business for the local market. It is like setting up a virtual glowsign that outshines your competitors and attracts their traffic to your storefront as well.

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