If local businesses want to excel with local SEO, it will be important to take advantage of the latest tools and techniques in local SEO to stay at the top of search results and appeal to more ideal customers.
According to HubSpot, 46 percent of searches on Google have local intent as it is. Nearly every local search also converts into an online or offline sale. As a growing number of businesses yearn for the top placements in search engines, the tougher it will be to get there as everyone scrambles to reach the top of the mountain.
Issues to consider when it comes to local SEO include:
- A study by WordStream predicts that 50 percent of searches will be voice-based to limit the amount of typing needed, which means marketers will want to emphasize long-tail keywords in optimization along with hyperlocal searches.
- Businesses with more positive reviews will have a greater chance of appearing high in local search results.
- User engagement will mean everything, as Google rewards businesses that generate lots of engagement with their website.
In addition to these aspects, certain things will stay the same while other significant changes will impact local SEO in the next year.
RDP Will Stay the Way It’s Been
First of all, RDP, or Relevance, Distance, and Prominence, will generally remain the same while factoring into your website’s appearance on search engines.
Relevance relates to how well the user’s intent matches your business listing. For instance, if a user is performing a search for “Italian food near me,” then Google will return results that only feature businesses that serve this cuisine.
Distance measures how far the user is located from the business when they perform a search. The closer the business is to the user, the higher it will rank. Say you’re in Chicago looking for a bookstore near you and Google determines that you’re on the north side of the city. In this case, Google will return results that are more specific to your location rather than give you a general list of Chicago bookstores.
Prominence pertains to the business’s popularity in both the online and offline world. For instance, if you’re looking for Italian food, a more popular nationwide chain such as “Olive Garden” will be more likely to show up than local restaurants with a single location.
Keeping these in mind, there are some specific factors that will have a huge impact on local SEO.
The Biggest Factors in Local SEO
There are four central factors that will help determine whether or not your local business excels.
- Great Services and Products Will Be Top Priority
Doing what you can on the marketing side will only do so much to carry your business. One of the biggest factors that will affect SEO for local businesses will be the quality of services and products they provide. Google will favor those businesses that have the best reputation among customers, with plenty of praise through positive online reviews. If your products and services aren’t giving customers what they want, your business will suffer in the long run. Even if you buy followers, likes, and fake reviews, this won’t help you get where you want to go. The more you cater to your customers’ needs and show that you’re dedicated to providing exceptional customer service, the more you’ll be able to stay ahead of competitors. One thing to keep in mind is how often you see even big prominent chains fail with specific locations. Unhappy and underpaid employees, poorly maintained locations, and low-quality products or services can result in bad reviews for some of the most well-known brands, giving you a chance to shine above those corporations in your area.
- Entity Authority Will Be Key
Business and industry authority will also play a key role in ranking for local businesses. Factors that can influence authority for a company can include:
Local businesses will need to be popular if they want to have any authority. Businesses can gain popularity by appearing in discussions on forums, in articles, or in social media communities. If people mention your brand, website, or location but fail to link to it, it can still count as a mention that helps increase your rankings in search engines. You can more effectively encourage brand mentions by developing and publishing content that’s locally relevant to prospective customers. For instance, as a restaurant, you might create a list of the oldest restaurants in your city or region, which can be popular among readers and get them and other publishers to share the list when they recognize a specific location near them.
Engagement is how people react to your business, including both negative and positive reactions. You’ll want to make sure the latter is what your business sees the most, as engagement with your brand will have a huge effect on local SEO.
- Metrics for Engagement
Certain local search engagement metrics will also come into play in 2020, including how many people save your business as a contact in their smartphones and how many use GPS apps such as Google Maps to find your business location.
Google is on top of determining whether or not a business is worth ranking, taking in and analyzing data collected through Chrome, Android, Maps, Gmail, and other apps that actively track user data.
- Voice Search
A growing number of users are using voice search to find local businesses using their smartphones. Food delivery services, grocery stores, and restaurants are also among the most popular types of businesses that people use voice search to locate.
In 2020, you’ll want to avoid underestimating the power of voice search when it comes to rankings. To help you optimize for voice search throughout the year, you can take the following steps:
Maintain Accurate Business Listings
You should always have business listings that reflect business information that’s up-to-date. This information will include your current business name, address, hours of operation, prices, and any images or videos of your business. You can encourage customers to add reviews and give users as many details as they need to find you on Google. Keep in mind that Google allows users to list results based on price, hours, and reviews.
People often use voice search to look for suggestions based on “best restaurants near me” or “restaurants open now,” which will gather results based on reviews, hours, mentions, and more to give users what they’re looking for.
Target Long-tail Keywords
Another way to improve your SEO is to target long-tail keywords, many of which are question-based to target popular queries that users are likely to enter. Consider the why, when, what, where, and how behind each potential target keyword and what your audience wants. You can find potential questions to answer on platforms such as Quora where users are actively looking for more information.
Try to Appear in the Knowledge Panel
Your business will have a better chance of ranking higher if it features a Knowledge Panel using properly structured data on your website. This will allow Google to get all of the details around your business and showcase them accordingly, including a brief description of your business, address, and contact info.
Ensure Your Business Shows Up for “Near Me” Searches
More and more people are using “near me” to complete local searches, and they’re unlikely to slow down in 2020. If you want to show up for these, you’ll need to list all of your locations in a Google My Business Account, which every local business should have. Having all of your locations listed in GMB will allow Google to accurately identify all of your physical locations and enable users to find the closest location to them.
When adding locations to your Google My Business profile, Google will guide you through the process of verifying those locations, whether by sending a confirmation postcard or another method.
Boost Your Local SEO
Local SEO won’t get any easier, but you won’t need to struggle if you keep up with the latest trends and work to implement them in your marketing strategies. By taking all of these aspects into consideration and incorporating them into your campaigns, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the competition and remain on Google’s good side.
The most important step to take to get the most from local SEO will be to focus on providing the best products and services. You can market and advertise all you want, but few things will attract more positive attention and customers like top-notch offerings that turn all eyes toward you. However, you’ll truly gain the upper hand by supplementing great service with improved voice SEO, mentions, and entity authority to say on top of search engines.