Local SEO is part of an effective digital marketing technique and business strategy, especially for local businesses. Local SEO is your best way to stand out and rank higher than your competitors in search results. Once the business becomes more visible on the internet, it will receive more traffic from local searchers. With the help of an experienced SEO outsourcing company, businesses can implement effective local SEO strategies so that local customers can find their products and services easily, wherever they are.
Local SEO uses different tactics compared to standard SEO, such as optimizing business listings on Google My Business, directories, social media profiles, and blogs to rank higher. Google has added local search to its core algorithm so that your local business will be found online if searchers are looking for what you have to offer. Search engine algorithms are tweaked constantly and therefore you need to stay abreast with the strategies that work best for your kind of business. Google still reigns as the leader in the market and is quick to respond to the changing consumer buying habits initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is a look at some local search statistics from Rio SEO’s 2021 Local Search Consumer Behavior Study.
- At least 83% of local consumers rely on Google Search to find details about businesses near them. 90% will make a purchase one week after their initial search.
- The year 2021 saw a 100% increase in local “available near me” searches, a 200% increase in “now near me searches,” and a 1000% increase in “along my route” searches.
With this increasing number of local searches, staying relevant with new local SEO updates is important and here are 2021’s local SEO updates and changes.
- Local SEO is more convenient with Google Business Profile for businesses: Google has changed Google My Business into Google Business Profile and it also comes with new updates and features. Now, businesses needn’t look through an app or platform to update and modify their business listings. Details such as address, working hours, images and contact details can be updated or added from Google Search and Google Maps. The verification process has also now become easier.
- Rich results and more visual elements in Bing: Bing rolled out new updates in March 2021 that aimed at providing local searchers with a richer user experience and increasing the integration of visual elements along with text-based search results.
- Visual search feature enables users to visually search for items that look similar.
- Additional information regarding a result can be accessed via expandable carousels when they hover over the result.
- Users can now get information regarding specific things (for e.g. calorie counts, nutritional information etc. on a Nutrition website) from a page via intuitive highlights. They don’t have to click through to a website to get that information.
- For those using broad queries to understand a topic in more depth, infographic-like results are provided.
Bing focuses on providing visually-rich SERP for local queries which consists of information from relevant sources gathered from Bing Maps, top images, visitor reviews etc. These changes aim at focusing on local SEO efforts on Bing. Creative businesses can own the local search if they can get creative with local opportunities. So, enhance your site and listings with different types of content.
- New attributes: Google continuously releases new attributes to provide better answers to the questions that searchers have regarding a specific business type and get featured on Google Business Profiles. Google always looks to help businesses stand out and better satisfy a query. In February 2021, Google added new attributes like health, safety, pandemic related things etc. to Google Business Profiles.
Adding these new attributes helps local businesses stand out and better satisfy a query. They can provide information regarding safety protocols and also mention new services or changing services such as no contact delivery, dine-in service, online appointments, online classes etc.
- Local ecommerce gets a push with Pointy: In June 2021, majority of the US shoppers said that they planned to check the item online and find out if it was in stock before buying the item. So, searches with term “in stock” increased 800 percent. This shows that adding the products to Google Business Profile and keeping the inventory up-to-date are useful. This may be time-consuming but to make it easier, Google introduced Pointy Integration. This is a new feature where eligible US retailers can have their in-store product inventory added to Google. This is updated every time you sell an item, thus keeping the product availability up-to-date online. This will help the searcher know about product availability and they will know what you have in stock.
- Catch up on the latest local news with Google: Near me searches are already popular across the globe but Google has added a new feature to the local SERPs to make local news easier to find and create. Google has introduced two projects to help journalists with local data and information.
Census mapper project: The data collected and processed by The Associated Press about a local area should be analyzed and visualized.
Common knowledge project: Access geographic comparisons, charts, and visualizations for data analysis at the county, state, and national levels. With some latest updates, the search engines have made it easier to find in the SERP.
The updates are
- Local news carousel: This will appear at the top of the SERPs, making them easier to find while giving local journalists and publications more visibility.
- More news in search: Here you will get the news about broad topic queries.
- Top stories in carousel: Authoritative local news sources appear alongside major publications.
- Local tweets: Local publications and journalists appear in local news with tweets rather than just published stories.
- Mobile first indexing still rules: Mobile first index has been popular since the end of 2017. Since then there have been several changes including the September 2020 delay in which the search engine stated it would hold off mobile-first indexing until at least March 2021. Google has pointed out several reasons for this such as lazy-loading, blocked assets, mobile images, videos, robots meta tags and so on.
However, mobile experience continues to be important and businesses must ensure that they are providing a great mobile experience.
Local SEO is all about visibility on the local results in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Since Google is now considered the most credible source of information on the internet, it has a significant effect on local search. Search engines continually assimilate new technology that enables them to deal with the overwhelming amount of data that exists online. All these new updates help in providing searchers with more refined search results and highly relevant content.
To keep abreast with such new updates, businesses can reach out to affordable local SEO services. They optimize the website’s structure and content to ensure it higher rankings in local search, which is vital to drive targeted traffic to the website and benefit from conversions and sales.