Major Local SEO Updates We’ve Seen Impact Local Businesses
In the world of online business, staying competitive requires that you keep up with the latest SEO updates and trends. The digital marketing landscape is always changing, and throughout 2019 is proof of that. During this period, there have been major changes impacting local businesses. The new developments affect everything from your local rankings to your marketing strategy. It’s important to keep your pulse on what’s going on, so you’ll know how to proceed as you go forward for the rest of the year.
Google Maps Events
Google’s Knowledge Panel has been a game-changer when it comes to SEO for local businesses. It appears on the right side of the Google Search Results Page and provides an array of valuable information to users. The details include:
- Product and/or service menus
- Map markers
- Local business URLs
- Business name
- Photos and videos
You can also add your events to the Knowledge Panel. One of the common ways to list an event is to use Google Posts via Google Maps. The posts include the event date, time, description, photos, a call to action and title. In March 2019, a new feature was rolled out that allows you to add your business events directly to the Knowledge Panel. This is a faster, more convenient way of promoting special occasions and activities. It streamlines the process of making updates in a way that saves you time. As of this writing, the functionality is limited to a handful of users.
Live Inventory Feeds
The Internet connects local businesses to a global marketplace. This has an upside and downside. On one hand, it levels the playing field in a way that makes it easier for local retailers to reach consumers beyond their backyard. The downside is that you end up competing with big corporate brands, like Amazon, for consumer dollars. Large companies have the money to dominate market share both globally and locally. Fortunately, Google has made enhancements to its local inventory ads, which give local companies a leg up in the online marketing space.
Live Inventory Ads are designed to help convert search queries into actual sales. Prior to this feature being added to the Google My Business dashboard, the Knowledge Panel posted business information and directions at the top of the search query results. While this gave firms greater visibility, it didn’t do much in terms of turning search users into customers.
Over the course of 2018, Google tested and enhanced the Live Inventory Ads. What they discovered is that providing real-time information was a more effective way of converting search queries. The ads now allow you to promote your products to users via live feeds. This way prospects and consumers can see relevant details and pricing information about the products you have in stock. But Google didn’t stop there. They formed a strategic partnership with NearSt that has taken technology and e-commerce to a new level.
NearSt is a startup company specializing in connecting live inventory technology to a retailer’s point-of-sale system. This increases user engagements while giving them access to the most up-to-date in-stock merchandise. Overall, users have relevant information at their fingertips that helps users make buying decisions. Additionally, local high street stores and independent retailers can compete more effectively with retail giants such as Amazon. The Live Inventory Feeds work especially well for selling household supplies and books.
Social Icons Return to the Knowledge Panel
Social media icons were removed from local business Knowledge Panels. Now, they’ve made their way back onto the panels. The icons appear near the bottom of the panel right above the “People also search for” section. Users can quickly learn more about your company by clicking your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or other social media profile after your panel shows up in the search query.
Google My Business Website Testimonials
Prospective buyers place a lot of value on consumer opinions and experiences. This social proof influences buying decisions. With this in mind, Google started its rollout of Google My Business website testimonials on February 12, 2019. The new feature displays positive client reviews about your company.
A call-to-action is an essential component of any successful marketing campaign. A CTA is often the difference-maker between closing a deal and losing a sale. Google understands this need and has added a get-in-line CTA to its local business Knowledge Panels. When users click the CTA, they’re taken to an interface that allows them to do the following:
- Join a waiting list
- View approximate wait time
- Select party size
The get-in-line CTA shows up where the reserve a table CTA normally appears. Google has been testing the possibility of using both calls-to-actions since December 2018. The new feature expands upon Google’s reservation program, and it’s available across all devices.
Instagram Local Business Profile Pages
Do you use Instagram to market your products or services? If so, you may find Instagram’s new in-app local business profiles pages very helpful. It allows entrepreneurs to claim a profile page for their business. The feature is quite similar to Google’s Local Knowledge Panel. These profile pages list details, such as business name, address, hours of operation and a website link.
One of the key benefits is that you can edit your company details. Sometimes inaccurate information is displayed, so the editing feature enables you to make corrections as needed. However, you can only use the editing function if you manage a Facebook account for the same business name.
Currently, only a small number of users have access to the in-app local business profiles pages. At the time of this writing, no extensive rollout has been scheduled or a formal announcement made making the feature an official addition to the IG platform.
Google Plus Coming to an End
Google Plus is officially shutting down in April 2019. Initially, the shutdown was scheduled for August 2019. However, the social networking platform got hit with a bug that affected nearly 53 million of its users, forcing it to end sooner than expected. On February 22, 2019, Google released a new version of Google Plus for Android devices.
On April 7, 2019, all content posted on consumer accounts will be deleted. This includes photos and videos in Google Plus pages in album archives. Do you want to avoid losing your content for good? Go ahead and start backing up your videos and images. Just make sure you do so before April 2019.
GMB Profile Photos Get a New Name
What’s in a name? Well, Google seems to think what it calls its features matters. For instance, you may not see where you can upload a profile image of your business. While this feature still exists, it now goes under another name. It’s called “Logo” within the dashboard of Google My Business. We suppose “Logo” sounds more businesslike (and cooler) than “Profile.”
GMB Photos Matching Search Queries
Google has begun sorting out what GMB images present to its online users during a Google search. When individuals search, a product, for example, Google’s image recognition is beginning to pull up the images of said products within the GMB listing. This can evoke a big motivation amongst business owners to add images of their products and/or services. This presents another opportunity for a listing to be recognized by more keywords the listing might not already be getting found under.
You Can Now Follow Your Favorite GMB Businesses
Google my business is now starting to go the social media route even more. Google posts first began in 2016 but now IOS users can follow their favorite Google My Business listings. This provides users to stay up to date with what’s going on with their favorite businesses. This also provides the convenience of not having to Google search each business at a time to see what’s going on.
GMB Listing Short Names
Businesses can now make short names for their businesses on GMB. This follows somewhat of the concept of social media handles. These make it easier for potential customers to follow and find your business during a Google search and on Google Maps. For example, a Burger King GMB listing could make their short name @BurgerKing if the short name hasn. Short names can not exceed 32 characters
Welcome Offer Postings Introduced To GMB
These postings are a great way to real in new customers and present what promotions a business is currently having. The first impression is everything to many shoppers and a great welcome offer can really drive that home. This can also get more eyes viewing the GMB listing’s knowledge panel. Being that Google My Business is one of the premier online directory providers, getting newcomers to explore your listing is something any business owner would want.
Search Results Affected By Proximity
Proximity for where an individual is searching from has become a rising factor for how said individual is discovering a business. This is not necessarily a new aspect within local SEO. However, it is a factor that is becoming more amplified within the local SEO community. Many business owners still believe that if someone searches their business’s name that their business will present as the first result. This is not always the case on all directory platforms. Many directories are beginning to take more of a note on the proximity between searchers and businesses. Whilst this is not the only factor that makes a business discoverable, this is a heavy key into why businesses may or may not be found right away.
Citation Rankings Values
Citations created for local businesses have always been a player in the SEO world. The idea used to be to create as many online citations for your business as possible and the likelihood of your business being found was greater. This ideal does not carry as much weight as one might think anymore. The bigger and more notable directories like Google My Business, Yelp, Apple Maps, etc have taken more of the dominance within the local SEO space. Keeping business information current and up to date within prominent directories is where a lot of search rankings get built on. Some sites and some less prominent directories will automatically build out citations based on the information provided by the more notable directories. Citations still play a part and shouldn’t be completely forgotten. However, it is a factor that can help an online marketer to redirect their focus as to where implementation should be made for a business.
Stay Ahead of Your Competition
Effective online marketing requires local businesses to stay on top of all the changes happening in the SEO world. Do you want your company to remain relevant in local rankings, including multi-location SEO? Contact V Digital Services today. Our professional team can help you stay on top of the latest marketing trends and SEO updates.