Local SEO experienced some pretty big changes in 2015. After significant algorithm updates, such as The Quality Update (originally dubbed the “phantom” update) and Mobilegeddon (more formally known as Mobile-Friendly), as well as a dramatic shift in the local map pack landscape, we can only predict that 2016 will be just as interesting.
Here are some new trends that business owners and digital marketers can watch out for in 2016.
Mobile Isn’t The Future - It’s Now
In May, Google confirmed what many marketers have been anticipating for years: mobile searches are more popular than laptop and desktop searches combined. If your business relies on local customers, mobile-friendly website design is no longer optional.
Giving your potential customers a great mobile experience is now a Google ranking factor, and the recent local 3-pack change reflects Google’s commitment to mobile.
In addition to making your website both mobile-friendly and responsive on all devices, you need to have a mobile mindset when it comes to design, content, PPC, and virtually every other aspect of your online presence.
Give mobile users the same optimum experience as when they visit your website on a desktop.
Voice Search Is Calling
More and more people are using voice search on their smartphones to locate the businesses, products, and services they need. Digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now add a new layer of complexity to search patterns.
In order to embrace this change, fully optimize your local citations and Google business listing with details about products, services, pricing, location, and reviews.
The difference in typed queries, such as “Starbucks”, and voice queries, such as “Where is the nearest Starbucks”, also opens up the opportunity for marketers to capitalize on long-tail keyword queries and conversational content.
Integrate your SEO strategy with your content marketing. Conduct long-tail keyword research, analyze your keywords to find patterns, and optimize or create content that supports these voice search-friendly phrases.
Rise Of Structured Data And Direct Answers
Direct answers are Google’s attempt to provide an exact answer to search queries at the top of the search page. Direct data is the granular pieces of information that appear with business listings in search results such as location, phone number, pricing, etc.
This means that businesses need to provide more detailed information about themselves in order to earn a top slot in search results.
How can local businesses adapt? Provide structured data for everything you can. Structured data markup is a way to annotate your content so that Google and other search engines can index your content better and surface it in features like voice answers or Google Now.
But structured data isn’t just for the search engines. By including structured data appropriate to your content, you can present your site more prominently in search results, make your result more attractive to searchers, and increase your click-through-rate.
How To Dominate In 2016
As Google’s technology becomes more sophisticated and users demand more accurate, individualized results, competition will increase and the importance of local search optimization will only grow.
To dominate local SEO this year, you should not only consider what you’re doing for your business, but also what you’re doing in relation to your competitors.
You need to match their efforts and then some in order to avoid being usurped in rankings.
The result? Higher click-through-rates, more leads to your website, and more sales in 2016!