As a marketer, you’re likely already well into planning your 2022 marketing strategy. From drastic shifts in consumer behavior to technology advancing, it’s safe to assume your 2021 strategy will look much different for the new year to come. Taking current trends into consideration, our experts’ local marketing predictions for 2022 can help you solidify your strategy.
Our own research we conduct for 8 different industries on a monthly basis paints a clear picture of just how many changes have taken place in the last year alone. When comparing year-over-year trends from 2020 to 2021, in October all eight of the verticals we analyze data for saw double-digit upticks in clicks to, searchers for, and views of business listings. We anticipate similar drastic fluctuations to continue into 2022.
As we collectively continue to plan for the year ahead, we brought together a panel of digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) experts to share their thoughts on marketing predictions for 2022. Just a few of these predictions include:
- Local search growing more transactional in nature
- Managing your online reputation growing in importance
- More zero-click searches and more people never visiting a business’ website
- Quality content remaining an important ranking factor
- And many more predictions
- Andrew Shotland, CEO & Founder of Local SEO Guide
- Dani Owens, Local SEO Consultant and Owner of Pigzilla
- Nigel Atkinson, Account Director at Rio SEO
- Chad Klingensmith, Senior SEO Strategist at Rio SEO
Learn more about their insights shared during the webinar to help guide your 2022 local marketing strategy and identify opportunities to kickstart the new year. Let’s dive in.
User Experience Remains a Priority
Providing a seamless and exceptional customer service will remain a priority for businesses in 2022. During the webinar, our panel shared both short-term and long-term fixes to implement to improve the customer experience.
For short-term projects, Chad recommends focusing on simple SEO fixes, as these impact SEO signals and the user experience. He also notes by making these updates, while minor, can lead to serious improvements in your search rankings. Some of these quick fixes may include:
- Ensure your title tag accurately describes your page
- Don’t use more than 66 characters in your title tag
- Put the focus keyword in the beginning of the page title
- Create a unique title tag for every page
- Ensure you’ve selected the right primary category for your business listing
Our panel agrees quality content development should be a longer-term goal. This includes written content, images, media, video and more. Content enables your business to better communicate what products and services your business offers, and tells Google what to share when a potential customer searches for your business.
Falling in line with the theme of focusing on the end-consumer, customer service is another hot topic right now. As we move into a world of cookieless tracking, it is becoming even more imperative to keep customers first. It is becoming more challenging to get in front of new customers, therefore having repeat customers should be a top focus.
Top Tools for Content Analysis
During the webinar, Dani shared several useful tools to help your business improve your content efforts through optimization and identifying gaps. A few of the tools she mentioned include:
Clearscope – Clearscope helps you produce content that’s highly relevant to what people are searching for. It also enables useful integrations with platforms writers often use, such as Google Docs and WordPress.
DemandJump – DemandJump’s solution is designed to help you save you time by automating the keyword and seo research. It produces an automated content online in seconds so you spend less time researching and more time producing quality content.
Content Harmony – Content Harmony creates content briefs that ensure writers are producing comprehensive content covering related keywords, entities, and key SEO and brand requirements.
Core Web Vitals Are Becoming More Important
As Andrew stated, over the past year, Google has emphasized the importance of their Page Experience Update. The Page Experience Update combines Core Web Vitals with existing search signals. These signals include mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. However, he also notes with his own clients he didn’t see much of a change until a few weeks ago.
Those clients who had strong Core Web Vitals scores seemed to stay the same ranking position in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Sites that have poor Core Web Vitals scores seem to be impacted.
Whether this can be attributed to recent Core Algorithm Updates to recently take place during the holidays, or whether this is an effect of the Page Experience update remains to be seen. Andrew does believe the Page Experience has some impact on their rankings, though.
Customers Will Want to Reach Your Business Quickly
As technology and expectations advance, consumers expect quick responses to their questions wherever they’re trying to reach you. This may take place on your social accounts, via email, a phone call, or even your Google Business Profile (GB). Consider all the places your customer can get in touch with you, and prepare to meet them there.
As Dani shared, these interactions may take place on your GBP listing through:
Messaging: Consumers can click the “Chat” features (when enabled) and speak directly with your business. The Messaging feature is similar to a text message, and Google expects your business to answer as such. In fact, it recommends responding within 24 hours to any message you receive. If you fail to respond within 24 hours, your Messaging may become disabled.
Reviews: One of the best places to find feedback related to your business is through your Google Reviews. Dani recommends finding a reviews platform that enables you to aggregate and respond to reviews when managing multiple locations, to ensure a review is never overlooked.
Q&A: Google’s Q&A allows a searcher to ask your business any question. Anyone has the ability to answer the question. However, if the business owner answers the question themselves, this helps build your authority and trust with your customers. Brands should be actively monitoring any questions they receive and should respond accordingly.
AI Technology Will Continue to Improve Complex Search Results
In 2022, the panel agreed Google MUM and AI in general will become more prevalent and even more sophisticated. MUM will be able to read text on web pages and comprehend the meaning, understand complex topics at an intelligent level, use audio files and videos as supplemental material to help with comprehension and translate those findings into multi-layered content that addresses complicated questions – all at once.
To prepare for the advancement of AI technology and be found for complex queries, Chad recommends considering the user’s intent. For example, if a searcher is seeking moving trucks, a moving truck company will want to take a variety of things into consideration when creating their content. Consider what would a searcher need to know about your moving company? They may want to know:
- Where is my business located?
- What kind of trucks do I offer and do I have pictures of each of them?
- What does my physical store front look like and do I have a picture of this?
- How much space do my trucks have?
- What is the easiest way to return the trucks?
- What is the gas mileage of my trucks?
Building Your Online Reputation Management Will Help You Strengthen and Grow Your Customer Relationships
A brand’s online reputation can highly influence a consumer’s decision to use their products or services. Additionally, reviews continue to be a heavily weighted factor when determining your search ranking.
In Whitespark’s 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors report, the quantity of native reviews on a listing and keywords in reviews were among the top 20 Local Pack ranking factors. This falls in line with Google highlighting businesses who prioritize their online reputation by adding newer features such as tags and surfacing 3 random reviews in the Knowledge Panel.
Our webinar audience also agrees that online reputation management will only grow in importance. In a poll we conducted during the webinar, we asked the audience which local search prediction they thought would be most important in 2022. 24% of respondents said prioritizing online reputation management to grow your customer retention, service, and search rankings will be the most likely prediction to take place in 2022.
Our panel recommends creating a holistic reputation management strategy, one that focuses on:
- Collecting reviews (in a manner that doesn’t break Google’s review guidelines)
- Being alerted any time a new review comes in at any of your locations
- Analyzing customer sentiment in your reviews to improve customer service
- Replying to customer reviews
- Developing appropriate responses based on feedback