As we have written about before on this blog, local SEO is a powerful way of improving the visibility of businesses that primarily serve their local communities.
Local SEO has become particularly important over the last two years, as more and more small businesses have transitioned into the e-commerce world and placed increased focus on using digital tools to drive local sales.
With that being said, local SEO looks set to become one of the important search engine and marketing trends as we go forward into 2022.
However, before we go on to discuss why this is the case and what these trends might involve, let’s have a quick refresher of what local SEO actually is and why it’s essential!
What is local SEO?
Local SEO, essentially, is a way for customers looking for local businesses to find your business more efficiently. It is a way of increasing your visibility online so that when a local customer searches for a product or service you are providing, they will get sent in your direction.
Local SEO works in much the same way as regular SEO, though some slight tweaks and differences make it more suitable for local businesses.
Many of these techniques are pretty much the same, though they will be more focused on the ‘local’ area.
Why local SEO now?
Perhaps one of the most exciting consumer trends to emerge over the last two years is that customers have released the importance of local businesses to their communities.
Whether it is the local pharmacy that knows your prescription or the local café that remembers your coffee order perfectly, people are more aware that local businesses are important to building a sense of community. This comes in addition to the more immediately noticeable economic benefits in terms of jobs and employment.
With that said, there has been a concerted effort to ‘spend local’ over the last two years, which has created a boom in local businesses. This has been heightened by entrepreneurs and start-up founders leaving their established careers to set up new local businesses or pursue passion projects.
Local SEO trends: what to expect in 2022
With the importance of local SEO established, let’s now consider some of the trends that will shape how local SEO will be used in 2022.
User experience still matters: Just because you are a humble local business does not mean that users will expect any less from your website than they would from a larger company. User experience is still essential towards cultivating healthy local SEO engagement. If a local customer does get nudged towards your website, you want to ensure that the experience they have is as positive as possible. This means having a well-designed website that displays essential information as accessibly as possible. You want to avoid users spending too long searching for information as this could lead them to another business or service provider. Another important aspect of user experience is having a website that loads quickly. Website users have short attention spans, so make sure that you capitalise on it as soon as you have it!
Zero-click results: A surprising statistic about internet usage is that over 50% of Google search results contain the information that the user is looking for on the results page. This means that most users conducting a Google search will have their questions answered without navigating to a website. These are referred to as ‘zero-click’ searches, as the user can answer their question without ever having to click through to the website. With that being said, this puts the onus on business and website owners to ensure that their Google My Business and Google Maps information are kept as up to date as possible, as this is where the majority of local searches will begin and end.
Optimise for mobile: Although this might not come as any great surprise, a significant volume of website traffic is happening on mobile devices – with some studies even indicating that as much as 50% of traffic comes from mobiles. This trend certainly holds true in the local SEO space, with a significant volume of searches coming when users are out and about and need information on a local business. This seems fairly intuitive, given that you are more likely to engage with a local business when you are in that locality. Despite this, business websites are often poorly optimised for mobile devices. In light of this, there is an urgent need to ensure that your online presence is as well-adapted for mobile devices as possible. Information should be just as easy to find on a smartphone as on a desktop computer.
Your reputation matters: Somewhat surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of users read online reviews before engaging the services of businesses. This is often the case even before they have clicked through to a business’s website from the search results page. For this reason, you should always be mindful of online reviews that have been left on your business page. This means not only paying attention to negative reviews when they get posted – and replying where necessary – but also promoting positive reviews you get.
Keep important information up to date: Most of the time, when users are searching for information on a local business, it relates to what is known as NAP: name, address and phone number. Despite this, you would be amazed at how often businesses fail to keep these up to date. With that said, always ensure that the most critical information that users need to know about your business is kept up to date and is easily accessible. Be sure to update your address, phone number and opening hours whenever there is a change. Make sure that these are consistent across your Google business page, your website, and any social media profiles you use.
As you have hopefully got a sense of by now, regardless of whether you are an international company with an online presence or a local business serving a small community, SEO is something you will inevitably have to come to grips with. In 2022, local SEO will be increasingly important to ensuring that your business stays visible online. While this is certainly something you can attempt to get a handle on yourself, the guidance of a team of dedicated experts always helps! If you want some advice about improving your local SEO presence in 2022, feel free to reach out to a member of the Purecontent team today.