The best part of the end of every year is how you get to start over, and the trends that have shaped local SEO in 2018 for small businesses has “new beginnings” all over it. In this day and age, consumers have several resources at their disposal to find business information and make an informed purchase decision. In light of such developments, search is aimed to become hyper-focused and hyper-relevant. Reworking your local SEO strategies for the next year is imperative to stay ahead of the game.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what these trends are, and what you can do to implement these trends in your local efforts. Here’s an infographic to brief you up on Local SEO in 2018.
So, Why are these trends important to your business?
- With the increasing adoption rates in voice search taking ground, you cannot afford to forego optimizing your strategies to appear in these searches. According to think with Google, the Google app gets 30x many action queries by voice as compared to typing. If you optimize your local SEO to appear in these searches, you can potentially increase your sales.
- Going mobile is vital to your business online presence. Search engines give a greater importance to web content that is not only mobile-friendly but is mobile-first. Not only should websites and web content designed for PCs be responsive in mobile devices, but they need to be tailor-made for mobile devices.
- Chatbots are starting to become more relevant and efficient in a world that wants to save as much time and money as they can. Live chat on business websites is starting to get replaced by chatbots.
Sure, chatbots can cut your work in half and help you save on some manpower, but how does it really add to your local SEO? Well, search engines are starting to index chat conversations to enhance discovery on search. For example, if you have a restaurant in the city, and a customer asks your chatbot if your premises has wheelchair accessibility, search engines will index the answer to the query. In doing so, when someone searches for handicap-friendly places, your business is more likely to appear in these searches.
OK, I’d agree with you if that seemed overwhelming. But the solutions to tackle these trends is simple to implement and scale-up. You will mostly be required to reinforce your present local SEO practices along with some additional to-dos. Let’s take a look, shall we?
To-dos to Up Your Local SEO in 2018
- Get Listed to Up Your Local SEO
Getting your business listed is the primary means to prepare your business for a strong online presence. It is imperative to make sure that you are listed on all the important directories like Yelp, your local Chamber of Commerce, Google My Business, etc. In doing so, you will appear on searches and increase your likelihood of ranking on searches.
- Implement Local Schema Mark-Up
Local Schema is something you add to your website code that can help search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing crawl your page content to understand it better, and consequently, add these details to the search results. This includes information like, for example, where your business is located, how many reviews you got, and similar business information. This can help search engines refine SERPs with hyper-relevant search results for very specific search queries.
(You can read about local schema in detail here.)
- Geo-fence Your Store/Local Business Area
Geo-fencing allows businesses to send real-time notifications to smartphone users within a certain geographical area. The technology used in Geo-fencing draws a virtual boundary around a geographic location, uses location-based services to track potential customers who enter the geo-fenced area and promotes business ads to these people. Not only does it attract customers, but it can boost your local SEO and have a good impact on your sales.
- Rethink Your Keyword Strategies
Your keyword planning for ranking on SERPs and for ads needs to expand from your usual habits. You need to optimize for voice search and “near me” searches. This will help you leverage the growing voice search and near me search habit. You will need to concentrate on long tail keywords that are phrased to match voice searches that are spoken as opposed to being typed out.(Learn about optimizing for near me searches and voice searches here.)
- Optimize for Mobile-Firstness
By optimizing for mobile, you’re increasing the likelihood of attracting more attention from search engines. Mobile optimization involves altering your site design, site structure, page speed, etc to ensure a good user experience for the growing number of mobile device users. Here is the list of things you need to tweak with to optimize your business online presence to be mobile-first:
- Add search-specific keywords to your meta descriptions and your title tags to enhance your ranking on SERPs.
- Don’t use Flash, and don’t use pop-ups.
- Simplify your forms for better user engagement. The lesser the fields, the better. (Reference)
- Remember that people who use touchscreen mobile devices experience the inconvenience of tiny on-screen interactive elements like buttons or hyperlinks. Such layouts are counterproductive to a good user experience. So, make sure that your layout is structured keeping in mind this aspect.
- Add structured data to your site. (Reference)
- Get in On Google’s Q&A
To leverage chat-enabled discovery for your business, make sure that you actively answer questions that people ask about your business. This kind of information appears in the box that appears in the top right-hand corner of search results in the SERPs (search engine results page). The answers are usually crowdsourced, but it will turn out to be far more lucrative for your business in the long run.
Managing your reviews is another imperative that will add to local SEO in 2018. Google counts review scores to roll out accurate search results for user queries, and reviews even contribute to local SEO in terms of social proof. You need to make sure that you have a well-kempt review generation strategy and make sure respond to positive and negative reviews.
- Use Google Posts
To improve user experience when your customers directly search for your business, you must use Google Posts. You can promote offers or blog articles (including a thumbnail image) by making them appear on the map snippet that will appear on the right-hand top corner of the search results page. This will You can access Google Posts only if you have a Google My Business page for your business.
(Read more about creating Google Posts here.)
- Get a Chatbot
With chatbots becoming extremely affordable and easy to implement, your business needs to adopt one. Well, not only does it add to a better user experience, but it also helps search engines understand your business better.
So, there, you have it!
In conclusion, to enhance your Local SEO in 2018, you need to focus on creating a seamless search experience for your customers. These local SEO trends are based is on empowered consumer behavior that has been influenced by the ubiquity of the internet and mobile devices. It all comes down to making your business information more and more presentable for your potential customers from a search perspective.
Let us know how these tips worked out for you in the comments below.