If you own a brick-and-mortar business, you can’t afford to disregard local SEO. That’s been the case for some time now, but the means by which a company can achieve a high local search engine ranking are constantly changing. That’s largely because Google continually adjusts its algorithms to ensure that the most relevant local results are delivered to users, but that’s not the only way in which technology is affecting local SEO.
By understanding how technology is changing local SEO strategies, you’ll have an easier time to get backlinks where it matters most: in the local SERPs.
More people are glued to their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices than ever. As the ubiquity of such devices increases, people’s comfort with using them to find products and services locally increases too.
When you think about it, people are far more likely to use a mobile device to search for a local business than a laptop or desktop computer. Such searches tend to be performed when people are on the go, so it’s crucial to have a mobile friendly website.
For a while there, simply having a mobile version of your site was enough. If you’re serious about maintaining a strong presence in the local SERPs, however, it’s time to consider responsive web design instead. This type of design uses a single set of code to render a site correctly across all devices.
Its impact on local SEO is enormous. Of particular note is the fact that a single set of URLs is used instead of separate ones for desktop and mobile devices. Why’s that matter? Mostly because it distills powerful SEO “juice” into fewer webpages. When you have separate URLs for mobile and desktop, the juice is spread much more thinly. Sometimes, Google may even mistake it for duplicate content, and your local search engine ranking can plummet.
Once reserved only for mobile devices, voice-activated search is now supported on desktop versions of Google and other major search engines. The impact of voice-activated search on local SEO is significant.
When people use Siri or a similar feature to find local products and services, they typically phrase things differently than they would while typing their queries into a computer. Therefore, local SEO keywords need to account for this and should be adjusted accordingly. Another impact that voice-activated search has on local SEO is that results are often given as summaries.
This largely eliminates the need for people to click through to websites for the information they need, so it can have a direct impact on the amount of traffic flowing to a site. Still, as long as local customers find your business, that’s the most important thing.
Maps, Images and More
With the introduction of Google Local Carousel, which delivers an eye-catching array of images from local businesses, it’s absolutely vital to put a top priority on high-quality visual content. Photos must be relevant to your business, and they should be optimized using relevant keywords as well.
Think of Carousel as yet another way to achieve a strong presence in the local SERPs. The best way to attain high visibility in this area is by having a fully developed Google+ page for your business. Doing so has numerous other benefits too, including that Google understandably gives preference to information contained in Google+ profiles.
Now that Google Maps and other maps services are integrated into the local search results, it’s crucial to ensure that your business is properly represented there too. This used to be almost entirely in business owners’ control.
Thanks to the proliferation of review sites like Yelp and Google+, however, some of that control has been wrested away. Positive reviews will help your local business stand out on a map, which gives it yet another opportunity to make a strong standing in the local search engine results.
Finally, markup schema is hardly new. Its impact on local SEO has increased significantly, though, and it seems to increase even more with every algorithm update.
If you’re not already using rich snippets to clue Google in to crucial information regarding your business, it’s time to get hopping. At the very least, make sure you have markup schema denoting the physical address of your business and the kinds of products and services you provide.
There’s no finish line when it comes to local SEO. The process must be ongoing if it’s going to be effective, and that’s mostly because technology is constantly evolving too. To snare the biggest slice of local search engine traffic, then, make sure to stay abreast of the latest technological developments affecting local SEO.