Today we have a guest post from Krystal Taing. She leads local listing management strategy for global enterprise brands at Rio SEO and recently attended our LocalU Advanced training in Austin TX. Krystal was kind enough to put together a list of takeaways from her time in Austin!
Last week’s LocalU Advanced was packed with informative, inspirational sessions and conversations all about my favorite topic: the latest in local search. Local experts from all industries gathered in Austin, Texas to share their unique, in-depth insights around what’s new, what’s changed and what we should all be focusing on.
— Andy Simpson 🔍 (@ndyjsimpson) April 11, 2018
There was no shortage of tips and takeaways but the following points really resonated with us here at Rio SEO. If you’re looking to stay at the forefront of local search and are wondering what might be next for your multi-location brand, check these out.
1. Google is the presentation layer of the internet.
— Thomas Ballantyne (@Thos003) April 12, 2018
Google is on a mission to publish everything they can find about your business. Maintaining your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency used to be a main factor in improving your ranking in local search, but this has changed significantly.
Now, the driving force behind citation consistency is for association. In addition to the data you’re providing to GMB or publishing on your website, Google is gathering additional information from other sources and displaying these on your listings. This includes additional images, reviews, services, events, wikipedia details, and more.
Takeaway - NAP consistency is still critical, but for different reasons than it was before.
2. Engagement is the local ranking factor of the future.
How do users interact with your business? Today, a ton of interaction is happening before a searcher ever thinks of visiting your website as they read and leave reviews, participate in Q&A and more via your Google listing.
Engagement in the SERPs is now a crucial reporting metric for your brand. You can measure online to offline signals, as well, as searchers click to call or get directions to one of your locations. This engagement helps Google rank search results, as well. They want to give searchers the best answer for any given query in their moment of need.
Takeaway: Create a frictionless experience where and whenever users have the opportunity to interact with your business locations online. Whether on Google, your website, on your Yelp or another 3rd party listing or elsewhere, strive to make engagement a 1-click process. Make it easy for fans of your brand to publish or view content including reviews, images, and video.
3. Evaluate How Well Google Understands Your Business
Google is continuously adding new features and making presentation changes to your business listings via the knowledge panel. Take advantage of all the fields you can control in the GMB UI. Remember, you can’t necessarily control each field on your own; some of it is pulled in from around the web, or provided by Local Guides.
— Krystal Taing (@krystal_taing) April 12, 2018
GetFiveStars.com shared an excellent resource on Google Q&A strategy -- grab a copy of that ebook.
Takeaway: Maximize your brand’s knowledge panel real estate for each of your locations. Make sure each of your local landing pages are marked up with the proper schema to tell Google which content to pull to accentuate answers to each relevant query.
4. Prepare for voice search with content development.
Within just a few short years, voice will account for the largest segment of searches. By 2020 50% of searches will be voice search –Are you ready for it?
.@Suzzicks Google is preparing for “eyes-free” interactions.
- controlled by AI
- based on entity understanding#localu
— David Mihm (@davidmihm) April 12, 2018
As local search pro David Mihm put it, zero-click SERPs are voice-ready SERPs. More and more, Google is pulling content from the source it deems most relevant and trustworthy to answer a searcher’s need in a knowledge panel or Instant Answer. Often, these Instant Answers appear in “position zero,” above all other paid and organic content. You can utilize the questions being asked on your Google listing to help drive content generation ideas.
It’s imperative for brands to utilize their local pages to add deep and specific content about their products and services. See how we helped a pet retailer achieve a 42% lift in search volume by building out hyperlocal specialty pages for their services.
Another great feature to take advantage of are Google Posts. These provide short form content that appears right in your knowledge panel. Joel Headley shares some great tips on this over at Moz. You also won’t want to miss Rio’s Google Posts Playbook, a guide to outpacing the competition using this unique content format.
Last but not least, don’t forget about the content value of high quality images - both on your listing and your location pages.
Takeaway: Develop relevant and conversational content and make sure it’s marked up properly to show Google that your content is THE best answer for voice queries.
Getting Started & Meeting the Challenges Around Implementation
For enterprise brands, your greatest challenge is that of scale. Making the most of the features available to you in order to improve your local search visibility can seem intimidating when you’re trying to implement new tactics across hundreds or even thousands of locations. However, the SEO, engagement, reputation and ultimately business benefits of a well-executed local search strategy are too valuable an opportunity to shy away from.