Local SEO trends in 2019

Local search engine marketing is becoming more important than ever for business owners. Google, for example, priorities results that are hyper-local. Good SEO practices include both on-site and off-site strategies. Local SEO services will keep helping businesses rank better and better every year. At T&G Web Design, our team is always keeping a look out for the best ways to make your business stand out in local search engine results pages which in-turn, helps to increase your return on investment.

SEO strategies are always changing which sometimes makes it difficult to decide on what to implement to be able to show up on search engine result pages. In this article, we have compiled a list of some of the core strategies that you should be implementing to gain more traction in 2019.

A few of these strategies are:

  • Online Reviews
  • Google Knowledge Panels and Google My Business
  • Proximity Marketing
  • Citations and Consistency

Managing Online Reviews

Most people don’t know that around 88% of consumers trust companies’ online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. This statistic alone shows how important managing online reviews for your business is.

A lot of consumers will leave reviews completely unprompted, which is extremely important. Why? Well because, Google, as well as other search engines, trusts your customers and audience more than they trust you. Simply put, they take signals, which can be positive or negative, to determine whether your website deserves a good ranking.

Another way of looking at online views is as an endorsement, which results in Google rewarding your website with more visibility. When receiving reviews, Google uses them to understand whether your business is real, legit and has the ability to interact and engage with people. Its not all about catering for Google’s needs though. People looking for your service are bound to read your reviews before buying your product and therefore, the trust you have built up is vital in converting more leads.

“That’s all well and good but, how do online reviews add SEO value?”. Don’t worry, we’re getting to that part!

We all know that Google ‘reads’ websites to understand the internet. With this in mind, think about how it could better understand your business. Exactly, the more content available to be read by Google, the more it can understand your business. Google My Business reviews adds fresh, new content to be read by Google but, above all, adds a lot of keywords that help define your business.

“How do reviews add keywords? Consumers don’t think about SEO best practices when leaving a review”. Whilst this is true, when your customers leave reviews, they can’t avoid doing SEO for you, whether they are aware of this or not. To write a review, they are unintentionally describing your services and products to Google. This helps provide SEO value by helping to bridge any gap that your website may have in terms of content, increasing visibility and improving your rankings.

Click through rates or CTR, influences SEO rankings significantly. Having traffic directed from your website with a high percentage of search results makes Google assume that you’re doing something right and rewards you with better rankings. Reviews can also be a big factor in CTR as high ratings or good reviews entice clicks and lead to Google boosting your rankings.

And how can you make reviews work to help you instead of damaging your rankings?

  • Encourage reviews.
  • Provide review reply training to employees.
  • Have a complaint-friendly company.

Google Knowledge Panels and Google my Business

Every time someone searches for a business on Google, knowledge panels often show up on the right-hand side. These information boxes help customers find your business and contact details. It can also show industry-specific information such as what amenities hotels offer, for example.

There are a few factors that influence whether your business appears in the Knowledge Panel or not. Your business’ presence on local search results is determined by distance, business prominence and relevance.

  • Distance – how far away search results are from the user.
  • Business Prominence – How well-known your business is. Google takes into account articles, links and directories to see your prominence.
  • Relevance – Ensures that local listings match what customers are looking for, making it important to add a complete description of your business.

Google My Business is vital for local SEO in 2019. You can easily improve your local ranking by simply optimising your Google My Business page. Just having a page set up will give you a better presence in both search and maps. Google advises that businesses follow these steps to optimise their business page:

  • Enter your business’ complete and accurate data. Details such as where you are, what you do, when you’re business is open, phone numbers and physical address are all very important.
  • Add business photos. Show off your products and services to tell your business story with high-quality, appealing images.
  • Verify your location. Verifying your location gives the best chance of your products appearing for user in search results.
  • Manage and respond to your reviews. Make sure you customers know you value them and their feedback, improving your visibility by showing how you come across prospective clients.

Proximity Marketing: Google Beacon

Although this isn’t a new technology, it’s beginning to look like 2019 might finally be the year in which Google finally takes advantage of proximity marketing. Beacons are simple, small devices with a range that can be just a few metres in diameter. This device sends signals over a short period of time allowing any nearby device in range to pick up the beacon’s signal. Your business can then accurately target passers-by with tailored messages.

And you can easily have a network of beacons across the city! This can ensure that, even when people move around, you can still send them messages from one location to the other. The potential is very exciting; proximity experiences will significantly improve, with Google’s beacon platform designed to have an easy way of incorporating highly context-sensitive cases into your venues and apps.

  • User guiding. Through airports, cities, shopping centres, or other locations.
  • Mapping. This provides insights into what where your customers go in-store, allowing you to know which actions can be attributed to their journeys.
  • Loyalty. Easily send loyalty rewards to your customers as they complete their purchases.
  • Measure frequency. Know how often your customers visit your business, how long they stay, and how it correlates to purchases.
  • Location targeting. Target users with highly specific messages according to specific locations.
  • In-store messaging. Provide promotional offers by messaging customers as they browse through your business or store.

The technology will undoubtedly keep getting even more exciting for local SEO. This highly specific targeting will open the door for other sectors to take advantage of proximity marketing with Google Beacon. Their Proximity Beacon API and Nearby API have made Google’s devices extremely accurate.

With the open source Eddystone, Google distinguishes their solution from the iBeacon. Eddystone is cross platform, compatible with iOS, Android, and platforms supporting BLE beacons. It also sends four different types of signals unlike the one for iBeacons, and allows you to manage your beacons easily with Google Cloud Platform.

Build up Local Citations

Build up your local citations to impact your local search rankings – the more online mentions you have, the more Google and other search engines will think your website deserves higher rankings. Particularly if these mentions are on relevant websites to what your business is about. Ensuring that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) is correct and consistent is essential for local citations, as they can simply include basic details and not a website link.

  1. Geo/Industry-Specific Platforms

Local business associations, commerce websites, and community hubs offer a range of listings specific to industry and geographic location. While often free, some may require payment – make sure the listings you invest in give you enough traffic to justify your expenses.

  1. Structured Citations

Websites that specifically offer a structure for business listings, such as local business directories and search engines, offer structured citations. Structured citations can be built and managed manually, with the core components being your business name, address, and phone number.

These local citations can influence your impact in local search engine rankings. Search engines collect data about businesses, such as:

  • Quality of platforms your business exists on
  • The number of citations
  • The accuracy of the data your business features

Providing accurate citations is vital for consumers to discover local business, increasing transactions and profit. Rankings, reputation, and revenue are all intrinsically connected to local citations.

  1. Unstructured Citations

With apps or websites that aren’t structured specifically for publishing local business, such as news article or blog post mentions, are great examples of unstructured citations. They can be built up by submitting press releases or other content to news websites, sponsoring events, being featured on blogs, and engaging in campaigns on social media. After you have your core citations, your Google My Business listing, and geo-industry-specific citations, it tends not to be worth investing in low-quality directories.

Having new unstructured citations in valuable apps and websites can provide you with new traffic and exposure to new audiences. Unstructured citations can make a big difference in competitive markets, helping your business to stand out from your competition.

Start off 2019 with the right foot – let us help you optimise your local SEO strategy!