Columnist Jason Decker reviews the year’s biggest developments in local search marketing. Which of these has impacted you the most?
Local Search is a constantly changing landscape, and that certainly has been the case in 2015. The power of local search for a local business cannot be underestimated. A Bright Local study found that local search is the most effective digital marketing channel for local businesses. Here are my top five takeaways from a crazy year in local search.
1. From Seven To Three, The Google Snack Pack
In my opinion, the single biggest change in local search in 2015 was the number of local results dropping from seven to three on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). These results are now lower on the page, too, with local ads taking up more premium space.
Don’t expect this to change. It’s now more important than ever to be in a top-three position in Google local results. Local businesses need to prepare, because “pay to play” is here to stay.
2. Near Me & Location-Based Services
A recent Google study indicates that for local searches involving “near me” in 2014, 80 percent were conducted on a mobile device. Proximity searches (where the searcher’s location is automatically determined via phone location and IP address) are an increasingly important local ranking factor.
While you can’t optimize for each searcher’s location, local marketers must make sure that their local presence is strong in terms of important ranking factors such as NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). Here are a few tips:
- Make sure that your NAP is accurate and prominently listed on your website.
- Add appropriate structured data markup to improve local search results and “near me” search results.
- Ensure city and state appear in your title tags.
- Ensure strong local links.
- Ensure consistency of NAP across all local directory citations.
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