As opportunity grows for businesses to connect with customers via search, so do the challenges of determining the best approach. Here are a few local search happenings to expect in this year.
National to Local Approach for Brands
The idea of a coordinated national to local strategy will become a reality for more brands and local businesses in 2014. Many local markets (and vertical industries) are very competitive and keyword saturated, making it difficult for national and regional brands, as well as for independent business owners, to win the online visibility game on their own.
National marketers that depend on the success of independent business owners (franchises, dealers, contractors) will find they can create a platform effect with a coordinated national-to-local approach to SEO, social media and content marketing.
Mobile Optimized Websites
Making sure a business’ website is mobile optimized might mean the difference between being found by customers on a mobile browser or not. With more consumers shopping via mobile, it is clear that site traffic is moving to mobile. So, being mobile-ready is a must.
In 2013, we witnessed Google giving prominence in mobile SERPs to local businesses that properly configured their websites for mobile devices, and this will be a growing trend in 2014.
Some websites could even be penalized by Google and the other major search engines if they’re not optimized correctly. Also on the mobile front, strategies like click-to-call will become even more interesting as they play a larger role in the digital lead generation strategy for many business verticals.
Google will Focus more on Ratings & Reviews
In 2013, Google focused on ramping up its local ratings and reviews. It will continue to try to gather this rich, hyper local content from local consumers to grow Google+.
In another sign of this effort, businesses with verified Google listings will continue to reap benefits including having the ability to see customer ratings and reviews in their Places for Business dashboard and the ability to reply to those reviews.