Search engine optimization (SEO) is a constantly evolving, dynamic field, keeping brands and businesses on their toes – that is, if they want to maintain their rankings. In the past, local businesses could get by without keeping up with the latest trends in SEO for local search.
But with the increasing presence of businesses online, it is now crucial that local businesses ensure their online presence is optimized for search engines. Customers now expect to be able to easily find their local companies in search results, and failing to show up will result in missed business opportunities.
To stay ahead of the competition in 2023, you’ll need to hone in on improving customers’ experience with local search. With a strategic approach to local SEO, businesses can stay ahead of the competition and attract more customers online – and in this guide, we are teaching you everything you need to know to kick your local Google search strategy into high gear.
What’s New in Local Search SEO for 2023
In 2023 and beyond, the best local SEO strategies will be those intentionally based on serving the needs of online search users. Like any effective business plan, you’ll need to look at what your customers want, need, and expect from you and then use that information to refine your SEO for local searches.
Here are ten major trends for local search in 2023.
User Experience is Paramount to Your SEO Success
To succeed in local SEO in 2023, focusing on user experience (UX) signals is crucial. Google announced in May 2020 that UX signals would be factored into search engine rankings, which means that website speed, ease of navigation, and mobile compatibility are key factors in your search success.
To improve UX, businesses should avoid intrusive pop-up and banner ads, which can irritate users and harm SEO. Testing website loading speed across platforms, including smartphones, desktops, and tablets, is also essential.
Local businesses should prioritize user needs, such as easy access to contact information and store hours, and improve website navigation. Google Search Console’s Core Web Vitals section provides tools for businesses to improve UX and ensure their website ranks well on search engine results pages.
A Google Business Profile is Essential
Google Business Profile (GBP) continues to be incredibly important in local SEO in 2023. Google is now prioritizing search intent and showing results based on what it knows a user is looking for, including location-based information. Businesses with a complete and up-to-date GBP profile have a higher chance of appearing in local search results.
Research shows that 49% of local companies receive over a thousand views on their monthly GBP listing, emphasizing the importance of using and optimizing this platform. To improve GBP performance, businesses should complete their profile with as much detail as possible, update business hours, and post fresh content every two weeks. This activity increases engagement and signals to Google that the listing is relevant, leading to higher search engine rankings.
Adapt Your Local SEO Strategy for Zero-Click Results
At first glance, the concept of zero-click searches (when a user searches but never clicks on an actual link) might seem like something to be worried about. It is not as problematic as it may sound – but you do need to adapt your approach accordingly.
Data from Semrush states that nearly 60% of mobile search users (and 53% of desktop search users) don’t click on paid or organic search results for various reasons. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage local search to gain foot traffic and other advantages for your business; it’s simply information you need to use to rethink your strategy.
To combat the zero-click trend, you can implement savvy tactics such as:
- Building a strong brand that attracts users and persuades them to click
- Creating an online destination that sidesteps search altogether
- Carefully select your keywords and terms
- Make use of your GMB and Google Maps information
The Quality and Accuracy of Your Website Still Matters
Although zero-click results are growing, having a well-maintained website remains crucial for building consumer trust. Most consumers expect a business website to be the go-to source for the most accurate information, such as location, hours, and contact details.
Going one step further, consumers are less likely to use a company if a website lacks contact information, highlighting the importance of maintaining a website with a strong user experience that meets customer needs.
Therefore, businesses must keep their website updated to ensure customers can easily find the information they need. By doing so, they can build trust with customers and increase the likelihood of generating leads and sales.
You Must Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
There’s no denying that mobile optimization matters. Data estimates that roughly 80% of the global population has smartphone access, with the average U.S. adult spending nearly three hours on their mobile device every day (Oberlo). And most of us are using our mobile devices for just about everything: product research, online shopping, browsing, and more.
What does this mean for your business? A mobile-friendly website is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. Add that to the fact that Google is using mobile-first indexing – and that optimization is considered a key UX factor, and you can see why a mobile design is a must.
Voice Search is Vital to Local Search
Voice search is becoming increasingly popular as more people use their smartphones and smart speakers to conduct internet searches. When using voice search, people tend to phrase their searches differently than when typing into a search bar, with longer, more conversational queries.
To optimize for local voice search, businesses need to create website content that reflects how people naturally speak. This creation includes using long-tail keywords and natural language (referred to as “NLP”) that mirrors how people ask questions in everyday conversation.
Voice search already makes up a large number of internet searches and is only expected to grow more common. This means businesses that fail to optimize for voice search risk missing out on significant potential traffic and revenue. By creating content that aligns with how people speak, businesses can improve their chances of appearing in local voice search results and reaching a broader audience.
Video Content is More Valuable than Ever Before
As mentioned, zero-click results have become prevalent in search engine results pages. For instance, when searching for local businesses, users are often directed to Google Maps or Google My Business listings, while video results from YouTube dominate other searches. Research shows that video content is more than 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results.
Consumers favor video content because it gives them a realistic perspective of products, services, and businesses. What’s more, video content can be a powerful tool for building trust and strengthening your brand identity.
Text-Based Content is Not Obsolete
High-quality text content is one of the most important components of a successful local SEO strategy – that’s nothing new, and it’s certainly not changing anytime soon. When creating content for your website, it’s crucial to focus on providing valuable and informative information to your audience. By doing so, you’re building trust with potential customers and establishing your brand as an authority in your industry.
Quality content can also help to improve your website’s search engine rankings by using relevant keywords and phrases. By targeting local keywords, such as location-based phrases and long-tail keywords, you can improve your website’s visibility in search results for people in your area.
In addition to helping with SEO, quality text content can attract backlinks from other reputable websites, helping to increase your website’s authority and improve your search engine rankings.
Understanding Search Intent is Crucial
Understanding search intent is crucial for local businesses looking to rank higher in search results. There are four main types of search intent: purchasing, getting to a business’s website, getting information, and browsing/comparing products.
Google now prioritizes results that best match the user’s search intent. To achieve a higher rank in search results, local businesses need to create content that meets the search intent of their target audience.
For instance, if you sell organic coffee, customers will likely want to know more about the product’s origin, flavors, and roasting techniques. Similarly, if your business has a local recycling program, users may search for information on it. Businesses can improve their chances of ranking higher in search results by creating a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page with content written in a natural style that targets local searches.
Consumers Care About Your Online Reputation
Close to 100% of consumers now read reviews before they make online purchases, with about 96% specifically checking for negative reviews (Search Engine Journal). Your customers are reading what other people say about your brand and taking that information to heart – are you confident that your online reputation holds up?
If you’re still not convinced, here’s another fact about online reputation: Google takes user-generated content (UGC), like customer reviews, into account when determining search rankings. So, factors like your average star rating on Google can directly help or harm your search visibility.
Online reputation management is now a key component in any digital marketing plan, especially your local SEO strategy.
Are You Ready to Grow Your Business’s Digital Footprint?
When it comes to optimizing SEO, local and organic tactics are both important – but they’re just one facet of a robust digital marketing strategy. And if you’re ready to leverage online tools to expand your reach, you’ll need a partner to help you implement a smart, targeted plan to solidify your digital presence and achieve your goals.
V Digital Services is a trusted digital marketing agency providing a broad range of services, including local SEO, website design and development, social media management, and more.
We would love to chat if you want to learn more about how local SEO works to propel your business forward. Contact the V Digital Services team today!
Photo credits: one photo, Chaosamran_Studio, one photo