It’s been a fast-paced year in digital marketing, with plenty of changes, and local SEO was no exception.
Search engines have evolved to accommodate the needs of customers as their informational needs have expanded and local marketplaces have gotten more competitive.
New tools, greater data, and simpler access to both are available to businesses, local SEO professionals, and their agencies.
What about the general public? They’re getting more of the information they want thanks to a richer, more interesting, and more seamless local search experience.
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Local Search Has Been Disrupted by Google and Changing Consumer Buying Habits
Many of this year’s top local search upgrades have come from Google, which isn’t surprising.
Google reacted fast to changing customer buying behaviors as a result of the pandemic and continues to be the market leader.
- Google presently has a global market share of about 92.4 percent in the search engine arena.
- Local shoppers utilize Google Search to find information about local businesses, with 90% making a purchase within one week of their original search.
- In 2020, Google will have facilitated 2 billion monthly connections between US businesses and shoppers, such as reviews and bookings.
- In 2021, searches for [available near me] climbed by 100 percent; searches for [now near me] increased by 200 percent in 2021; and searches for [along my route] increased by 1000 percent in 2020.
Businesses can’t afford to neglect local SEO with figures like these. Capturing even a small percentage of these searches can be game-changing for any company, and life or death for those who are struggling.
That requires paying attention to how local search evolves in 2021 and modifying your local SEO approach for 2022 accordingly. So, what do you need to know about the numerous updates and adjustments that will occur in 2021?
1. Local SEO Has Become More Convenient For Businesses Thanks To Google Business Profile
When Google renamed Google My Business to Google Business Profile, it brought with it a slew of new features and changes.
The fact that business owners no longer have to dig through an app or platform to update or alter their listings was maybe the most significant benefit. From Google Search and Google Maps, you can add or edit contact information, business hours, photos, and more.
You may also complete the verification process and address concerns like Search suspensions, making it easier than ever to establish a strong presence in local search results.
2. Google Has Made It Easier To Find And Read The Most Recent Local News
Google introduced elements to the local SERPs to make local news easier to locate and publish after searches for [news near me] tripled over five years around the world.
Google has established two programs to assist journalists in incorporating local data and information into their stories:
Project Census Mapper
Gather, analyze, and visualize data about a local area collected and processed by The Associated Press.
Project on Common Knowledge
For data analysis at the county, state, and national levels, use geographic comparisons, charts, and visualizations.
With these modifications, the search engine made it easier to find local news headlines in the SERPs:
- Local News Carousel: Local news stories relevant to a user’s query now display at the top of the SERPs, making them easier to access while also increasing the visibility of local journalists and publications.
- Top Stories Carousel: Alongside the major publications that used to dominate this section of the SERPs, authoritative local news sources now display alongside them.
- More News in Search: Google’s ability to relate news to broad topic queries has improved.
- Local Tweets: Rather than only published pieces, local publications and journalists appear in local news via tweets.
3. More Visual Elements And Rich Results Have Been Added To Bing
Microsoft Bing released five changes in March 2021 aimed at creating a richer experience for local searchers by increasing the integration of visual components with its text-based search results.
- When consumers hover over a result in an expandable carousel, they can get more information.
- Searchers utilizing broad queries are now enticed to explore deeper into a topic by infographic-like results.
- Intuitive highlights gather information from a page such as ingredient lists, calorie counts, and nutritional information without forcing the user to visit a website.
- By using the integrated visual search button, users can visually search for products that are similar in appearance.
Why are these details important to local SEO experts? These same ideas were implemented into Bing’s local search results.
Instead of a plain image carousel or text-based facts, Microsoft Bing provides a visually-rich SERP for local inquiries that includes relevant resources from Bing Maps, top photographs, visitor evaluations, and other sources.
Because of these changes, concentrating some local SEO efforts on Bing has become a more appealing prospect. If creative businesses are prepared to be innovative with the many local search options, they can own the local search arena.
So, if you haven’t already, add a variety of media kinds and material to your site and listings, including user-generated content.
Don’t forget to employ schema as well.
4. Everyone Gets New Attributes
Attributes are prominently displayed on Google Business Profiles and provide proactive responses to frequently asked inquiries regarding a certain business category.
Why? Google is continuously on the lookout for new ways to help businesses stand out and better serve their customers.
Searchers wishing to support businesses with shared value might use features like the Black-owned or Women-owned business qualities to make these connections.
Google added health, safety, and pandemic-related features to Google Business Profiles in February 2021.
Local companies can exchange information about safety practices and advertise changing or new services like curbside pickup, no-contact delivery, and dine-in service with the addition of these attributes.
Online appointments, estimations, online classes, and digital care were also mentioned in Google’s list of qualities.
By allowing businesses to track customer phone calls and respond to missed calls, call logging, messaging, and access to new data and insights via Google Search and Maps help keep customers engaged.
For a busy business, all of these might be significant. If you haven’t already, one of the first local SEO chores you should do in the new year is to look at the many new qualities that will be available in 2021.
5. Pointy Has Boosted Local Ecommerce
50% of US customers stated they planned to check online to verify if an item was in stock before purchasing holiday items in June 2021. However, even before that, searches for “in stock” soared by 800%.
This means that listing your products on your Google Business Profile and keeping your inventory current are both very beneficial. Even so, it’s a time-consuming feature that companies don’t always have time for as sales grow.
Google launched Pointy integration to make things easier.
Eligible US shops can now have their in-store product inventory automatically linked to Google with this new function.
Then it’s updated every time you sell an item, so searchers always know what you have in stock.
6. The Mobile-First Indexing Rollout is Still Happening
Since Google’s announcement at the end of 2017, mobile-first indexing has been looming.
Since then, there have been various expansions, stops, and starts, including Google’s announcement in September 2020 that mobile-first indexing will be delayed until at least March 2021.
What’s the source of the issue? Among them are robots meta tags, lazy loading, prohibited assets, primary content, mobile pictures, and videos, according to Google.
Regardless, it’s best not to be caught off guard–if you don’t currently provide a smooth mobile experience, you should.
According to Google’s search data, 76 percent of individuals use their cellphones during the day to look for something nearby, and 28 percent of those searches result in a transaction.
So, how do you prepare?
According to Google, the greatest advise for local companies and marketers looking to draw attention from on-the-go local searchers is to focus on establishing a positive mobile experience.
7. New Local SEO Tools And Insights Are Now Available For Free
Local businesses and SEO specialists who want to stay on top of the latest developments now have access to some new free tools.
The Local-Pack-O-Meter, created by Local SEO Guide, is one of these tools. Local packs, information panels, shopping, job posts, and adverts, to mention a few, are among the 10 categories of Google search features that SEO and business professionals can watch data for.
The tool is based on Traject Data’s analysis of around 60 million US search searches. As a result, it has a significantly bigger sample size and is more representative of all inquiries in the United States.
Users may examine the data for fascinating trends and insights to power their strategy moving ahead, with data extending back to May 2020.
A research paper from Milestone Inc, which studied 500 location-based businesses, their sessions, and page visits to better understand which channels had more profits at the best ROI, was also issued this year.
The following are some of the key takeaways:
- Referral traffic ranked third in terms of return on investment, after organic and local search.
- Referral traffic, on the other hand, had a higher rate of interaction.
- Local search has the best return on investment and the most page views each session.
Meanwhile, Rio SEO has been monitoring aggregate GMB success indicators from their platform’s over 200,000 U.S. business locations. Every month, the company produces a new report that includes vertical-specific standards for Search Views, Clicks to Call, Clicks to Website, and other metrics.
If you’re seeking for data to help you plan your local SEO strategy for 2022, keep an eye out for these and other chances.
What You Should Know For A Successful Local SEO Strategy In 2022
While these seven upgrades are critical for your local search strategy in 2022, they aren’t the only things to keep an eye on.
If you’re new to local SEO, make sure you’re setting up Products in Google Search for optimum visibility and conversions, and that you’re getting the most out of Google Maps for your business.
Make sure you’re using the data accessible in the Google Merchant Center to power your local SEO campaigns if you’re a large, multi-location company.
You should also address any enterprise local SEO concerns or common Service Area Business issues.