06 Sep The State of Local SEO & Where to Focus Now
By: Casey Meraz
In this article I’m going to address the current state of local SEO in 2016, review some findings from a new data-driven local SEO study, and provide you with some actionable tips to win the local SEO game.
If there’s one thing that’s consistent about Google, it’s the fact that it’s always changing. Over the years we’ve seen many changes in local search. The most recent changes included ads that display in the 3 pack of local results, leaving only two positions. Since Google removed the sidebar ads, you now have to scroll further down the page just to see the local results. These days, local SEO is more competitive and more confusing. So where do you start?
I suggest that you start by defining your primary goals. You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you’re going. If you’re promoting a hotel, for instance, your primary goal is probably to get more reservations — local SEO for you will mean ranking high in Google’s local results, attracting positive reviews on websites like Tripadvisor, etc.
The reality of local search in 2016
The algorithm, the amount of effort business owners are putting in, the amount of effort marketers are putting into their local SEO — it’s all changed. Where just a few years ago there were many businesses on the sidelines not doing much in the way of optimizing for local search, you now see more people trying harder.
Just the other day at the gym, my personal trainer told me how his business partner figured out what was necessary to rank higher in Google’s local results. But how does Google decide which business deserves to rank higher than another when most of them have followed the same guides that preach the same basic optimization tactics?
Do you see the problem here? If everyone is doing the basics now, the bar has been raised.
Speaking of goals, keep this in mind: There isn’t just one way to search. #1 rankings don’t mean everything.
Let’s talk user behavior for a moment, because it’s super important. Imagine you find yourself in the bummer of a situation I was in last week. I needed a plumber. To find one, I decided to turn to Google (since I spend all day there anyway) to search for a local plumber. Here’s my personal journey.
Step 1: Search for a local plumber. I skip the paid ads because I feel bad clicking on them.
Step 2: Look at local results. Ahh, that’s more like it! Let me click on the one with the most reviews. I like reviews. They make me feel good.
Step 3: Let’s be honest — I wasn’t really happy with a 3.1 rating. I’m going to look at the finder results now. I skip over the first result and move to the one that looks the best based on the star rating. I’m in the industry, I know how people can spam these things, and yet I still like shiny objects. I find myself overly critical and biased.
Step 4: After judging everyone at face value, I decide to click on Master Blaster and read the reviews. View Full Article >>