Google Shakes Up Local Search, + Top Search Trends for Spring

April 25, 2016

local SEO ServiceIt has been an eventful time in search these past few weeks. Recently we learned Google made some pretty significant changes to how it ranks content locally, and Yahoo made headlines when it revealed its list of the top search trends for Spring 2016.

Full details about each of these headlines in this SEO news roundup.

Overall Google Ranking Now Affects Local

Google has updated its document on local ranking signals to include the more traditional ranking signals we’ve grown accustomed to in organic search. These include signals such as links, articles, and overall position in web rankings.

Google’s new local ranking signal is called “prominance”, which is defined as:

”Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking…

Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.”

Some takeaways:

  • Your website’s ranking across organic search is going to directly affect how well your business page ranks locally.
  • If you’re not focusing on traditional SEO tactics for your website, and focusing more on local optimization, the visibility of your Google My Business listing is going to suffer.
  • as a result of traditional signals now influencing the rankings of Google My Business pages, your local rankings may go up if your businesses.

In addition to prominance, relevance and proximity are still considered determinants in local rankings; referring to relevance to the query, and distance to the searcher.

Leave Google Reviews Without a Google+ Account

Speaking of local search, it is now easier for people to leave reviews since a Google+ account is now no longer required. Now reviews can be left whether signed in to a Google+ account or not. To be clear, a Google account is still required, but a Google+ account is not.

This change was done to improve the overall user experience of leaving reviews, but it can also it could lead to a measurable increase in reviews left in Google search now that it’s easier for people to leave reviews. This is important with reviews counts being a ranking factor in local search. This change has been rolled out and is effective immediately.

Google Ranking Searches by “Best” and “Cheapest”

Searchers have been noticing when conducting searches for local places, phrases like “best” and “cheapest” are being taken into consideration, and the results are being ranked accordingly.

When searching for restaurants, searches for “Best” retur only 4-star listings, while searches for “cheap” returned listings with only one dollar sign.

This is even more anecdotal evidence that getting reviews, and having an updated Google My Business Page, is critial for visibility in local search.

Yahoo’s Top Search Trends for Spring

Yahoo recently revealed a list of topics that are expected to be searched most this spring. This information can be useful when plannning your content strategy over the next few months.

Here are spring 2016’s top search trends, according to Yahoo:

  • DIY: As the weather gets warmer, more people are searching for “how to build” things.
  • Painting: Searches for painting the inside of one’s home are said to be going up.
  • Organization: Searches for organizing one’s closet will be at the forefront.
  • Outdoors: Popular searches will include phrases from people looking to buy various types of outdoor equipment and hardware.
  • BBQs: Searches for “grills” tend to go up between March and May.
  • Chairs: Searches for outdoor chairs, specifically “Adirondack chairs”, are up between March and April.
  • Allergies: Lots of searches from people wanting to know “when do seasonal allergies end”.
  • Taxes: With tax season coming up in April, it’s only natural for tax-related searches to go up this time of year.

Wrapping it Up

Google is shaking up local search, and Yahoo prepped us for the types of searches we should expect over the next few months. If you have any questions, or need some advice on local search, please leave a comment below.

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