A new year means new opportunities to grow and expand your local business. However, with the digital age, it is necessary for a local business to have an online presence and focus on local SEO. But, local SEO is complex and can sometimes be confusing because it is always evolving. While Google’s algorithm takes into account more than 200 factors, as a local business, you need to be aware of which factors are important and which ones you should forget about.
So, without much ado, here is what local SEO will look like in 2018:
SERP Features Will Be Riding Hard
If you think the only way to get traffic is being ranked number one in organic search results, you couldn’t be further away from the truth. Today, searchers are enamored by knowledge panels, local packs and snippets. As a result, these SERP features are playing a major role in deflecting click from organic search listings. So ranking within SERP features has become imperative. You need to track your rankings and also monitor those features that are being displayed for your keywords and stealing traffic from your local business website. You can do these things by Rank Tracker from SEO PowerSuite which will help you keep track of up to 15 SERP features for Google.
Analyze the data that you get and look at the SERP features that can help you get found rather than relying solely on organic rankings.
Ignore Structured Data at Your Own Risk
If you don’t know what is structured data, here is a simple layman’s explanation. It is a way to format HTML by using specific words so that search engine spiders can understand the content and choose the best way to display it is search engine results pages. A good example of structured data is as follows:
Source: Search Engine Land
While structured data is not a website ranking signal, it improve any search listing that you may think of, including rich snippets and knowledge panels. Rich snippets are known to increase click-through rate significantly. In other words, structured data allows your site to stand out and helps you beat your competition.
Understand how to use Schema.org, which is the most ubiquitously used structure data format. Implement the schema markup and then monitor and track the rich snippets to see if they are displayed on your website.
Haste Does Not Make Waste
Website download speed is no longer something you can ignore. Besides playing a major role in search engine ranking, the download speed of your website also improves user experience. When users have great experience on a website, it positively affects rankings. Now, do you see the importance of ensuring that your website loads fast?
Typically, Google loves pages that take less than three seconds to load. Test your webpages download speed. Find a free tool like Website Auditor to do content analysis to test the page speed. It will show you how to fix the problem if there are issues with the speed.
Backlinks without Links
Sound confusing, doesn’t it? Well, it is not. Google has been using backlinks for years as a way to rank websites. The more links you have from credible sites, the higher your site will rank. So, link building is something all local businesses should do. However, in 2018, there is a twist to building links.
In 2018, the trend is going to be of linkless brand names. Search engines are technically advanced to associate the name of the brand with the authority of a website. This trend is presently prevalent in Bing where unlinked brand names are already being used for ranking, and SEO experts believe that Google may be doing the same thing.
You can check mention of your brand name, products and services with the help of Mention, which is social media and web tool to monitor in real-time for your brand name and keywords. It helps you find the most authoritative mentions. You can analyze the data for custom insights and to perform competitive analysis.
Personalized SERP is In
Personalized SERPs are taking just traditional factors for ranking. They are also making use of the information related to the searcher, like their location, interests and search history. All major search engines (read Google, Bing and Yahoo) are personalizing search results, and this is going on for a few years.
You don’t have to worry. Personalized search does not put your site down. It is best to try and rank high for the search terms that your target audience is looking for. If one of the searchers click on your website, from then on your website link will rank among the top sites for their subsequent searches. The only caveat is to track your ranking accurately for keywords.
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Local searches are taking precedence over generic searches. So, if someone is using their smartphone to find a product or service, the local pack is displayed before the remaining search results. As a local business, you should endeavour to be listed among the local pack, and the best way to boost your chances is by claiming your Google My Business listing.
Claim your listing and then optimize it for keywords to appear in the three pack. However, refrain from keyword stuffing as it will work against you. Also, add your local phone number to your profile to connect directly with your prospects. You can connect your GMB profile to TribeLocal to figure out how your target audience is searching for your business on Google and the actions they are taking. It will go a long way in helping you cater to your audience.
Author Bio – Shishir is an ex-startup entrepreneur currently working on kickstarting inbound marketing for a Silicon Valley startup. Cracked the code of generating 750K monthly traffic in 10 months by using creative content.