We’re halfway through 2018, and local SEO has, as always, gone through some interesting changes that’s made us all change the way we play the game. Some of the most recent updates that have made a big difference to local SEO are probably wearable tech and voice search.
This doesn’t mean that the usual local SEO practices of optimizing on-site content or making sure that you’re found on all the top websites/directories/social media sites have changed – it only means that the world of local SEO has evolved in certain ways that begs your attention. So, without further ado, these are the top 5 local SEO factors in 2018.
We know that you’ve seen the word “reviews” appear way too often when you look up “local SEO factors 2018” online, but that’s for a reason. Reviews are more relevant than ever in 2018 – even Moz’ new local search survey (which came out in 2017, but is still relevant, nevertheless) deemed reviews as more important than ever for local SEO, with things such as the presence of product/service keywords, review velocity and review quantity becoming big local SEO ranking factors.
It goes far beyond that as well, now with reviews having gained prominence as one of the most important things that you need to look into for optimizing your local SEO. Thankfully there are tons of review monitoring and review generation tools out there to help you simplify and automate the way you handle your reviews.
#2 Voice Search
Yet another local SEO factor that you can’t run away from and ignore anymore. Voice search is absolutely booming in the local SEO realm, asking search engine optimizers to re-strategize and rank for “questions instead of keywords”, since that’s how humans interact with voice enabled search devices. There are a whole bunch of things that you can do to make sure that your (client’s) website is optimized for voice search – especially if it’s a B2C product or service that consumers will likely use voice search to discover.
#3 Local Listings
Local listings will never become irrelevant, it would seem. Local citations of your business, and most importantly your Google My Business listing, are key to getting more hits in 2018, and here’s why. The search engine Google, and Google Assistant, which brings together a horde of other devices and apps – such as the Google Home and Google Maps – all use Google My Business to find businesses. So this means that if you don’t have a GMB listing of your business, then you’re going to lose out on gaining customers from all of these platforms.
More than just getting listed online, another important aspect of local SEO is making sure you have rich and deep data about your business updated on your GMB listing. This is owing to the fact that users often tend to search for specific keywords like “Mediteranean restaurants near me”, “retail stores that are open near me right now” and “inexpensive plumbing service”, and so on. In other words, this means that if you don’t have data such as categories, business hours and price range updated on your GMB listing, then you’re going to lose out on a ton of other customers.
Google My Business will never not be important – since it houses so much data about your business, directly shows up on Google’s knowledge panel, and hosts reviews that customers leave behind. What’s more, Google now allows you to update Google Posts that show up directly beneath the local listing, undeniably making it one of the biggest local SEO factors n 2018.
#4 Local Schema
Local schema has gained prominence as of late as a big local SEO factor. Local schema has, for some years now, been a very under-utilized optimization technique that SEO-ers tend to not pay attention to, but now seems like a better time than ever to focus on it and get something out of it. You can read all about local schema and how you can use it to improve your website’s visibility online in this article.
However, we’d like to note that local schema is very effective only when someone’s either directly searching for your business or searching for very specific keywords like “events near me”. Even though it’s not necessarily a ranking factor, local schema provides the corollary of increasing website hits when someone directly sees your business’ price range data or review rating on search engines.
#5 User Behaviour
As always, this local search ranking factor remains one of the top local SEO factors in 2018 as well. When we say user behaviour, we mean the click-through-rate (CTR), bounce rate, clicks-to-call and other interactions that you receive on your listings.
The fact that these are things that you “can’t really control” is a myth. Yes, you can’t control user behaviour a hundred percent in any given scenario, but what you can do is optimize to improve all of these stats for your business.
These are some of the things that you can do to improve CTR, bounce rate and listing interactions:
Make sure you have concise, self explanatory titles, URL structures and meta descriptions to improve CTR
Make sure that your website is designed to appeal to a visitor to improve their dwell time and decrease their bounce rate
Have all the data necessary on your listings, such as website URL, phone number and business location to improve the interactions that users make on your listing
Apart from this, there are a ton of things that you can do to improve these numbers and make your local SEO better. A well-optimized local presence is important to help any business flourish. If you’re new to this field, or if you want a handy tool to help you keep track of your progress while working on a local SEO project, check out this printable local SEO checklist that will help your local SEO process.
So, that’s our top 5 local SEO factors for the year of 2018. Until next year, then!