You’re missing out if you aren’t paying attention to local SEO. In the past, local businesses could get away without pushing their presence online. Still, with all the competition getting connected, customers expect to find their local companies in their search results. Search Engine Optimization is always changing, evolving, and growing, meaning you need to do the same.
But how do you beat out the competition?
In 2023, local search and SEO will focus more on customer experience than ever. This means voice searches, mobile optimization, and always looking at how these things affect their experience. Today, we’ll look at how this is shifting SEO trends, what the statistics on SEO say, and how you can succeed with this information in the coming year. There are opportunities, you just need to be armed with the most up-to-date information you can and take it with you.
1. User Experience is King
A considerable step in getting ahead with local SEO is taking the time to consider and shape the user experience from the beginning. In May 2020, Google announced it would factor user experience (UX) signals into its search rankings. This means factoring in how quickly your webpage loads, how easy it is to navigate, design, and find content, and how this experience ranks on mobile and desktop are all factors in your site’s search engine ranking.
Three Ways to Improve Your Site’s UX
Ditch Pop-Ups and Banners When Possible. While marketers swear by putting pop-up ads and banners on websites and have for years, users hate them – this also has been known for a long time, and it’s time for them to go. If you’re not entirely sure, think of it this way: users are 279.64 times more likely to have climbed mount Everest than they are to have clicked your banner ad, according to Business Insider. It could hurt your SEO, upsets your customers, and it’s even effective enough to make those losses “worth it.”
Slow Loading Website? You can use tools online to test this – check across devices and platforms, too. That means you need to have your site load quickly and smoothly on smartphones, iOS and Android, and desktop computers and tablets. Run diagnostics across browsers, ensuring Firefox, Chrome, and Safari users get an identical experience across the board.
Keep It All Front-and-Center. Consider what most people want from your website, and inform your navigation. What do people want when loading your front page? Are your contact information, hours, and address all easily accessible without clicking through a hundred different pages?
2. Google My Business
Often shortened to GMB, Google My Business has recently come up. Google is putting more emphasis than ever on search intent – it’s not just showing results based on keywords but what it knows a user is looking for. If a potential customer searches for “best pool contractor,” the search engine automatically knows they aren’t just looking for the best contractor anywhere. Using location-based information, google will show the best contractors and businesses within the user’s local area. That’s what pops up with Google My Business results.
How important is this for a local business? Studies have shown that 49% of local businesses will get around 1,000 views on their monthly GMB listing.
So, how do you make sure your listing will perform well? It’s free if you haven’t already set one up. You can fill your profile out with as many details as possible. If you change business hours, keep your listing up to date. Updating with fresh posts every two weeks can help keep things relevant while allowing you to add more local keywords to your account. The higher the engagement and activity you maintain, the happier Google will be and the higher you’ll rank in the results.
3. “Zero-Click” Results
A less-than-ideal trend that’s good to be aware of: since 2019, more than 50% of all Google searches result in the user getting the information they need from the search result page. This means they didn’t have to click on a business’s website.
You can take this information to look at your GMB page and Google Maps data on your business. Make sure those are up to date since this may be how people discover the information they need about your business. You can also try creating rich content for your website that can’t just be found on your results page and focus on keywords to help organically bring people into your website. The traffic might not be guaranteed anymore, but there are still ways to bring people in over time.
4. Your Website Matters
Despite the growing trend of zero-click results, your website still matters.
56% of consumers expect your website to be up-to-date, accurate, and the best source of information (BrightLocal). This means they’ll often go directly to your website if they need vital information like location, hours, and contact information. The same study found that 50% of consumers said they’d be less likely to use a company without direct information on its website.
This goes back to creating a solid UX: Keep your site updated to keep your customers happy.
5. Optimize Your Site for Mobile UX
When customers are on the go and realize they need to make a purchase, they’ll likely want to make that search on their mobile device. A recent study found that 52% of web traffic now happens on a mobile device.
If that’s not enough, then consider that Google is indexing new websites with mobile-first indexing. This means new websites will be reviewed by google based on mobile design first rather than desktop design. Again, they’re considering user experience.
Tips for Optimizing Mobile User Experience
Check Your Fonts For Accessibility – Make sure your font is big and clear enough on mobile to read easily. The colors should contrast well enough to be read by people with visual impairments and large enough to be easily discernible by the naked eye. Mobile devices have the benefit of pinch-and-zoom that desktops, in some cases, will not, but this creates a frustrating experience for users who have to zoom all the way in to read something.
Ensure Navigation Is Possible – Navigation should inspire users to interact and engage with the content. Your navigation should be accessible to mobile devices, and users pressing it with their fingers (rather than a fine-tuned mouse) but not take up too much space on the screen. Show off the UI with paths and destinations with high priority levels and frequent use – your FAQs, contact forms, and other high-traffic pages should be easy to access.
Hidden navigation slows down exploration, drives down engagement, and confuses people. Make it easy to interact, and communicate clearly with icons or other graphic options for simplicity of use.
Build for One-handed Operation – Despite screen sizes expanding, 85% of users still use their phones with one hand. The larger the screen, the less accessible it becomes. Keep all top-level menus, frequently used controls and everyday action items in a comfortable reaching zone with one thumb. Destructive actions, or ones that impede their progress, should be further to make it more difficult to accidentally tap.
Delight with Animations and Micro-Interaction – Delightful animations can make the interface more human and create a more emotional connection with your users. You can use animations to make the interface appear more responsive when results are being loaded – the immediacy of transitions can give transitions the sense of input feedback.
6. Consider Voice Search
People phrase searches differently when saying it to a phone or smart speaker versus typing. These are longer, spoken searches, meaning you need to consider how people talk when creating content on your website.
In a study on smart speakers, 75% of the people who own and operate smart speakers indicated that they use them to search for local services and businesses. These results are often sent to a smart device like a smartphone or tablet, which circles back to the importance of mobile functionality.
7. Search Intent Is More Important than Ever
In recent years, search terms like “to buy” have increased usage by 500%. People know what they want before they ever look it up. Google now tailors results to meet the search intent of a user. For reference, there are four significant types of search intent:
Getting to a Business’s Website
Browsing & Comparing Products
To get your local business ranking, you’ll need content to meet their search intent. If you’re selling hot tubs and home spas, your customers will probably want to know more about the benefits of having access to those things in their home or backyard or what they stand to gain. They’ll want to know the perks and benefits of building their own backyard oasis or how to care for their pool in between services.
You can develop a FAQ with content written in a natural style to target more local searches, and Google will pick up on this. People search with an idea in mind – try to meet them in the middle by anticipating their wants, needs, and possible thoughts.
8. Video Content Matters
Many searches done today are zero-click results; many of those searches for local businesses are met with google maps or google my business. However, some of those searches are Youtube videos showing up in the results. Forrester Research found that video content is 50x more likely to land on search results pages than any other format.
Consumers like video content. It makes products, services, and businesses all seem more real to them in the virtual world. Your video content can be used to build trust – 84% of people cited a video as part of a recent purchasing decision.
9. Text Content Still Matters
To raise your local business in its rankings, consider the level and volume of content you offer on your site. One study by orbit media found that successful blog posts average around 1,142 words long – that length is set to keep growing if the trend stays consistent.
What do your local customers want to know? How can you keep them engaged and informed and tell them what you offer? Moreover, do these customers have unique challenges, concerns, or something that sets the apart from the crowd? Do you live in an area affected by storms and have some tips and tricks they might want to know? If you work in an area with storm systems, give them information on hurricane-proofing their pools or cleaning up afterward. If you live somewhere cold, give them articles on winterizing their backyard, so it’s ready for them in the spring.
In short, cater your content to your market. Create content your market will be searching for based on your niche knowledge and research. Show them that you’re in tune with them by offering them the content they will be searching for. You can then prove to them that you’re a leader in your industry by showing it.
10. Your Online Reputation Matters
Did you know 87% of consumers read online reviews? Don’t worry… Google does.
Online mentions of your business matter more than ever for search rankings. Linking your reviews on sites like Yep and Facebook helps make the connection for google to your website. Responding professionally to your reviews will help improve engagement. This will show google that your business handles complaints and regularly engages with your customers.
In the past, ignoring your reviews was thought to be the best advice. But brand engagement matters and Google will reward you for it.
Staying on top of reviews and feedback is no small task. As a business owner, you’re busy and might not notice an online review immediately. Negative reviews can severely hurt your online reputation. The best way to build up and protect your reputation is collecting more positive reviews to outweigh the negative. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Our Reputation Management services help you:
Get Real-time Alerts- Receive instant notifications of new reviews.
Collect More Reviews – Automatically send out review requests via email or text.
Showcase the Best Reviews – Promote new reviews on your website
Help Your Customers Find You – Ensure your business information in local search results is correct and stays that way.
Resolve Problems Proactively – Assign support tickets for reviews and social media comments
Fix Problems Before They Arise – Stay connected with customers throughout their journey and resolve issues before they develop with engaging surveys
Stay Ahead of Competition – Analyze customer sentiment trends using information from your competitor’s reviews and personal data insights.
See Also: New From Google: Local Service Ads
Every business can benefit from some peace of mind in the online sphere – you could have everything you need to enhance your customer relationships in a single package. No need to spend extra time or resources finding reviews and communicating with customers. We’ll help streamline the process so you can focus on making more sales and satisfy your customers quickly and automatically… all while appeasing Google’s desire for positive customer engagement.