How To Survive In The Local Search Sphere
As any digital marketer will tell you, Google’s SERPs are quite the competitive place to be, especially for local search. With Google’s numerous and consistent updates just over the past year or so, including meta description lengths, HTTPS warnings, the Medic update and more, local businesses can struggle to keep up with the ever-changing SEO world. At Absolute Digital Media, we aim to take a reactive approach to any updates that Google releases, but local search remains a competitive area regardless. Here, we’re exploring just what it takes to survive this competitive sphere in today’s digital landscape.
Why Is It Such An Issue Now?
As with any website, Google is fond of promoting its own products and processes, but this can make top local search rankings even more difficult to achieve. According to Search Engine Land, a typical query in Google is likely to bring back virtually an entire page of Google-owned properties. Essentially, this means that users are more likely to see paid listings, knowledge panels, review carousels, news carousels, images carousels, review URLs and much more, all before they reach the organic search results. On a local search scale, this can be devastating. Through these products alone, a ‘number one’ ranking for a company can appear to be a fifth or below, beneath paid ads and listings.
The Rise Of Voice Search
Voice search is starting to revolutionise the way people search for services and products online. While home hubs and smart devices aren’t in every home just yet, more and more of us are using our mobile phones and their voice search capabilities more frequently when it comes to internet browsing. Apple’s Siri is still the dominant force when it comes to voice search with a 40.4% share of the market, however, Ok Google is starting to rise in popularity and currently has 25.9% to their name. These easy to use and accessible platforms are starting to catch up to the traditional method of manually typing in search terms within a search bar, so it’s important that local business start paying attention now.
“It is essential that marketers dig deeper into search, social, local mobile data to understand how they all work in tandem to impact ranking.
The rise in voice search has made the importance of semantic search that much higher. Google is starting to understand what people are looking for in much greater detail and so the structure of your website and the content within needs to abide by this. As anyone will tell you, the English language – and plenty of other languages for that matter – consist of words and phrases, and therefore search terms, that can mean two different things. To ensure that you aren’t being listed for the wrong search queries, you need to make sure your content is designed in a way that answers the questions that you want your site to be found for.
If you want to appear organically within local Google searches, you will need to make sure you have efficient loading times and that your website is clearly laid out within mobile view. This is critical when it comes to voice search, given that the entire concept has been designed and formed around people who are looking for speed and competency. You also need to consider brand awareness and adhere to what is known as the Google “Radio Test”. This means your branding needs to be memorable and comfortably understood so people can easily search for your website using voice search technology.
[Content Marketing] a more competitive environment certainly, but those who have real empathy for web users and influencers AND have the SEO skills to infuse their work with great keyword targeting, search accessibility, etc., are going to have ongoing success.
Another important aspect that will heighten during the rise of voice search is business directory listings. Recent reports suggest that 97% of consumers use voice search to find reviews of your business. When people search, they are phrasing their search terms in a way that will list the best-reviewed businesses that operate within certain industries. This means having a Google Directory listing is compulsory if you are to survive Google’s competitive search when it comes to voice search software.
With this in mind, however, local businesses can still optimise their sites and even use these Google properties to their advantage to promote increased CTR and conversions, and here’s how:
How To Optimise For Local Search
The simplest way to get your website seen by users is to utilise Google’s features to their fullest. Whether it’s careful management of your Google My Business listing or restructuring content to qualify for featured snippets, here are a few ways small businesses can optimise for their local search:
Google My Business
When used correctly, Google My Business (GMB) can be an extremely valuable tool for any company wanting to promote themselves in local search results. Every company is entitled to a GMB listing, but those that utilise it to its fullest will get the most out of what it can offer. Ensure that you’ve claimed your listing, that the information on the listing is completely accurate and encourage your current clients to leave reviews for potential clients to read. Users are more likely to trust online reviews and personal recommendations compared to the information posted on your website or social media.
Restructure Your Content
Featured snippets are making businesses with lower SERP rankings appear at the top, simply because their information is the most relevant to a particular search term, and local businesses can use this to their advantage. Restructure your content to provide accurate, precise and relevant information that Google can pick out when a search term is used; providing Google believes that your information is the most relevant and what the searcher is looking for, your website could be featured as a snippet answer.
If you truly want your business to appear above all others, it could be time to consider advertising. 35-64% of local pack results contain ads and with Google Ads use consistently growing and taking up more and more of our SERP space, local businesses could benefit from investing in a PPC campaign to gain the attention they desire. The more you pay, the more likely to appear at the top you become, so it’s important to ensure you’re focusing locally if you’re on a limited budget.
Local search is becoming increasingly competitive, and that much sought after ‘top spot’ is becoming much harder to reach. However, with the utilisation of Google’s tools on top of SEO best practices, small and local businesses could stand a much better chance at reaching position one.
If you’d like more information about local search or help with achieving those all-important SERP positions, get in touch with a member of our knowledgeable team on 0800 088 6000, today.