For small businesses and those operating within a specific physical area, local SEO continues to be a major priority. Ensuring that an organization’s product or service can be found when someone nearby conducts a relevant search can make or break that business’s ability to survive. After all, “near me” searches have risen to dizzying heights over the past few years.
Of course, it isn’t enough to pepper those phrases into your content and call it a day. With more information available via smartphone than ever, marketers who want local-focused results for their clients will need to stay informed of industry trends and implement those findings into their SEO strategies. Here are just a few of the developments that will continue to play an important role in local SEO throughout 2020.
Long-Tail Voice Search
For many small businesses, the use of more specific (or long-tail) keywords can provide more efficient ways to rank. Since generic keywords tend to be much more competitive — and may not even come with a lot of payoffs — it makes sense to go after terms that capture buyer intent (even if they have a lower search volume).
Now that voice search has become more popular, thanks to our growing reliance on Alexa and Siri, web searches are actually getting even longer. People are more likely to speak in complete sentences and ask full questions, rather than limit their queries to four or five words. Therefore, voice search optimization will need to be a priority for small businesses and those who concentrate their efforts on local SEO.
Social Media Influencers
Some small business owners may scoff at the idea of using influencer marketing. You might assume that this tactic makes sense only for larger corporations or you may believe that there’s no way to tell whether influencer marketing is actually effective.
While it’s true that you’ll need to be choosy when selecting influencers for marketing campaigns, consider the fact that most consumers consider these individuals to be much more trustworthy than an average ad. Even when ads are clearly disclosed, there’s a certain level of integrity that influencers bring to the table. Consumers want authentic information that they can count on. And if an influencer’s audience is highly engaged, devoting part of your marketing budget to influencer relationships can be highly fruitful.
Keep in mind that while many influencers are located in large cities and work with brands on a national or international basis, there are plenty of smaller influencers with more devoted followings who focus on working with local businesses. As long as your brand is aligned with an influencer and their audience, your partnership can increase your brand awareness, drive traffic, and result in major conversions.
Online reviews are nothing new, but they are being featured more prominently than ever. Local organizations will want to claim their Google My Business listings and seize the opportunity to reach nearby users through those means. And one feature of GMB is the ability for customers to leave reviews.
Instead of having to go to a Facebook page or to the Yelp app, consumers can see exactly what others think of your business with just a tap or two. In 2020, you’ll want to focus on ensuring that the reviews featured on your GMB page tell the full story and that there are no barriers that will keep web users from contacting you or visiting your location.
Experts are also predicting that Google will put the spotlight on local businesses that have stellar reviews and that prioritize customer service. This makes sense, as Google wants to offer the best results for a given search. If you want to amp up your local SEO this year, you’ll want to focus even more on gathering reviews on this platform.
There’s certainly a lot that goes into local SEO, but you definitely won’t want to neglect these areas when strategizing for digital marketing in 2020. Listen to the experts and make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay on top of these trends.
“Entering 2021, we will see TONS more opportunities for digital creatives as well as strategy shifts for businesses,” says Ame Hage of Strategy Maven Agency. “Covid’s impact on the digital world is here to stay. More and more small businesses are finally starting to see the value of the digital world and making the proper shifts (better late than never, right?).”
High Quality Content
“One of the main focuses of the 2021 SEO should be the high quality content,” says Michael Meyers of Leads at Scale. “The old and outdated technique of producing short content and overfilling it with keywords does not work anymore. Your main focus should be building the reputation of your website, especially, when the website represents a real company or a service. And for doing so, you should write content to both please your readers, and provide them with valuable experience. For instance, our content, at Leads At Scale, is produced by legit experts in the field of B2B lead generation services. We believe that will bring our visitors back.”
“More now than ever, authenticity is at a premium for connecting with your audience,” says Jeremy Kanne of Smart Yeti.
Website Is The Center Of Your Brand
“Your website should be the center of your online brand, tell a story and have clear calls to actions. We are living in a social media centered world, but your website should still be the center of your online presence,” says Brian Davis of BryteBridge Think of it as your home on the web. Unlike social media, you have full control over your website, which is vital to projecting your authenticity and authoritativeness. Social media enables more eyeballs on your content, but it’s best to think of it as a place for building brand awareness first and client acquisition second, leaving the heavy lifting to your website.”
Driving Traffic To Your Website
Where is the best place to hide a dead body? Keep reading for the answer.
“Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to every business. The value of page 1 of Google is just too important to ignore. “But getting to page 1 and driving traffic to your website is only one part of the equation,” said Steve Frusolone, founder of MarketSparx.”
“Driving traffic to a website is easy for a Digital Marketing firm. Then the question becomes ‘How good is your website at converting that traffic?’ Conversion Rate Optimization needs to be an important part of your web strategy. It requires data driven analysis and expertise and outsourcing that to a team with experience just makes sense,” said Frusolone.
“Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. Desired actions can include purchasing a product, clicking ‘add to cart’, signing up for a service, filling out a form, or clicking on a link.”
And the best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google.
“CMOs are optimistic about a recovery in 2021; however, budgets will be tight. Businesses will be looking for affordable ways to gain attention from their buyers online,” says Paul Slack of Vende Digital. “Social/Digital Selling, Video Marketing, Podcasting, and Social Advertising will be tactics that many businesses will leverage to gain this attention.”
A/B Testing Tools
We’ve been implementing a/b testing tools with almost all of our web projects, and plan to do more installs in 2021. Tools like https://absplittest.com make it easy to optimize engagement and conversion through simple, automated tests,” says Doug Steinberg of Magnetik Marketing. “There’s no downside. It lets us test quickly, easily, and often. Start simple – test CTA language or placement to optimize what drives conversions. Other simple tests include page length, language, and imagery. But not all at once – test one variable at a time to get a clean read on what’s working and what isn’t…”
User Experience And Mobile-First
“I believe the Digital Marketing Trends in 2021 will see a big shift towards user experience and mobile-first due to Google’s core update at the beginning of December 2020,” says Jeremiah Smith of Flatwood Media. “We don’t know the full details at this point, but I think it will be the beginning of a major shift in the industry.”
Speaking The Language Of Your Client
“Having someone in your agency team that can speak the language of the client, and then translate that dynamic to the production, design, fabrication and engineering teams is essential,” says Sean O. of Agency Rye. “It helps define you as an agency as more of a partner and less of a vendor. We really take extra time to learn and understand as deeply as we can about the client business, personalities, and expectations so that we can deliver a genuine, well thought out content and strategy. Without that genuine element of narrative and storytelling, it’s just noise that people tune out.”
The Small Things
“Focus on the small things that provide the biggest impact for clients. Share your successes – and failures – openly and often to make them a partner in the success of the campaign. We stay in constant communication with clients and focus our efforts on the stuff that’s working best for them.”
“Right now that’s on-page SEO for us because the new tools on the market allow us to really simplify the whole process,” says Blake Akers of Atomic Digital Marketing. “My team can rank for just about anything in 30 days without a single backlink, so that’s where we focus the most effort. On-page SEO scales easily and it’s cost effective. If you spend years testing pages and get really good at your niche, client retention becomes almost effortless.”