Next year, Google will celebrate its 20th anniversary. But, can you imagine a world without the search engine?
The service has made the lives of consumers and businesses a whole lot easier. As the company evolved, so did its range of services, connecting consumers and businesses more effectively. One of the key drivers of business success is ensuring that potential customers can contact and find you. That’s why the yellow pages or business listings were so important. The same runs true for online visibility.
It’s important for a business to stand out and one of the easiest way to do this is through local search. What is it exactly? To break it down in the simplest terms, local search is the ability for a user to submit geographically constrained searches and get relevant results for the area they are looking for. For example, if you look up “restaurants in Dubai”, only listings for restaurants that are in Dubai will show up. Google recognized the opportunity here – linking consumers and businesses – leading to the rise of local search.
THE RISE OF LOCAL SEARCH AND WHERE WE ARE TODAY
Location is a key consideration when it comes to search. In fact, Google data suggests that 1/3 of all mobile searches are related to location. With consumers constantly on the go brands need to catch consumers in micro-moments – a growing trend.
The challenge – how can we ensure to catch them at the right moment? Most searches are location based (in intent) and there is a decrease in location qualifiers being used in queries.
Brands need to go the extra mile to catch the audience they want to attract. It isn’t enough to just get the basics right, you have to follow a set of best practices making sure you are up-to-date with the newest updates. If you’re looking at Google specifically (since it accounts for over 77% of desktop and 97% of mobile search engine usage worldwide), what does best practice look like?
Some of the key local search ranking factors would be:
1. Proper Google My Business (GMB) association
2. Physical address in city of search
3. Proximity of address to the point of search (searcher-business distance)
4. A verified GMB listing
5. Quality/quantity of reviews received on the GMB listing
These are only a few best practices that you can follow to set yourself apart and increase the likelihood that your brand will appear in ‘near me’ searches.
HOW GOOGLE HAS CHANGED LOCAL SEARCH FOR THE BETTER
Google Local, Google Places or Google My Business? These are the many different guises Google has adopted over the past decade.
Presently, it is known as Google My Business (GMB). It is a free online platform that Google provides that serves two purposes:
1. Help business owners increase their online visibility
2. Help people find, engage and review businesses in their local
In the 13 years since Google Local started, a lot of man hours and development has gone into it. GMB in its current iteration is going in the right direction, but there is still room for improvement. For example, receiving notifications for reviews and image uploads (a feature that Google is reportedly testing) would make things easier for anyone working on the brand side. We are already seeing a rise in spam or competitor images being uploaded, and policing content isn’t easy especially if you have over 600 listings to review.
The local search listing wasn’t always so easy to use. One of the biggest issues in the industry was getting incorrect data updated. This used to be extremely long-winded. Today these processes are better streamlined, which allow a better user experience for business owners and the public. This makes it understandable then, that Google is top of mind when it comes to search. The investment into creating specialized products is why the company has managed to stay ahead of the game.
Local intent is a crucial component of any SEO strategy. If you’re interested in learning more about local search or anything SEO related, get in touch.