Three Local Search Predictions for 2016

by Lewis Adcock February 12, 2016
February 12, 2016

Local search was big in 2015, but it is set to get even bigger in 2016.

Let’s face it – mobile users are on the rise and with the introduction of new connected wearable technologies and an increased focus on Google Now, Local search is set to explode in 2016.

Google made some important changes in 2015, such as changing the Local 7 Pack to a Local 3 Pack, which is the amount of local businesses you see within the SERPs. This made waves in the search community and local businesses felt the difference.

So what are some of my predictions for Local search in 2016?

Mobile Will Continue to Rise and Dominate Over Desktop Search

Looking at year on year statistics, mobile searches are overtaking desktop searches. Last year, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches and this is something that many marketers have been anticipating for some time.

This is incredibly important for any business out there because this further backs up that your website must be mobile friendly and accessible via mobile devices, otherwise you are going to be left out as Google starts to outrank mobile friendly websites over non-mobile friendly websites.

But it isn’t just how your website looks or performs on a mobile device, it is the types of queries that people are searching for on mobile devices. Users are searching more on mobile devices with localised intent, whether this is looking for a local restaurant or to check what time a store closes – all of these types of queries are locally focussed.

‘Google Now’ Will Play an Increased Role In Local Search

Google Now hasn’t seen much attention within the SEO world. When it was first introduced with Android 4.1 (Jellybean) it didn’t get much attention but has slowly been gaining momentum and it is starting to become a point of interest. If you don’t know what Google Now is, it is Google’s answer to an intelligent personal assistant.

As voice search begins to rise and users start to use longer queries to search with, Google Now offers a unique way of serving information to users before they’ve even searched for it.

It works by recognising repeated actions by the user and then displays relevant information that the user may find interesting in the form of cards. These cards can display any number of things, such as News, Traffic on your route, Places nearby, Weather and even the timetable for your bus route home.

Google Now’s purpose is focused on local search and letting the user know what is around them.

Ensuring that your website has a completed My Business page that is 100% filled out is highly important for this, ensuring that all information is correct (including category and hours.)

Reviews are another important factor, the businesses that you find via Google Now are usually the businesses with the most reviews and the highest ratings.

Of course, having good locally focused SEO is only going to help you in these endeavours.

Schema Markup to Become More Important

Structured data is still not used by a surprisingly large amount of websites. Mainly because it isn’t understood by them, but it offers a lot of benefits. If you own a store it can enable you to display price, reviews and ratings, stock level and brand within the SERPs and helps to increase click through rates.

It also is used by Google to categorise your website and provide them with additional information.

Google have said that they’re going to be ramping up support for structured data markup. I suspect with this additional support, that Google are going to be putting more importance on structured data markup within their algorithms. It might not play a huge part, but having a higher weighting in how it affects rankings could prove to make quite the difference.

There are many more things that could happen this year – technological advances are happening at an increased rate and with the rise in wearable tech, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see an increase in users using voice search for locally focused instant searches.

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