Local Search Trends for 2021 Header Image

Digital marketing continues to evolve, and if the past few years have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected in every aspect of life. What’s a common practice one moment may not be the next, which is why we continue to track what’s new and what may come next. Recently, we reached out to several digital marketing experts to hear their marketing predictions for 2022.

Their insights are meant to help guide your 2022 marketing strategy and help you keep a pulse on updates that may not have been on your radar. Here’s what they had to say about what we can expect for the future of marketing.

Providing Exceptional Customer Service Will Become More Imperative

Lauren Etter, VP of Client Services at LSM

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.

We no longer need to write off a customer as soon as they make a purchase. It's now time to make those past purchasers loyalists. In order to do so, you need happy customers who you can motivate to come back for more. Click To Tweet  
Marketing tactics are needing to shift to things like providing unique content through blogs or how-to’s, creating a space for in-person activities, or answering their biggest questions that are relevant to your space. Beyond the ongoing content needs, start to think of customer services as its own line item on your 2022 budget sheet. This is what is going to transform customers into brand advocates and build your bottom line. 

The Page Experience Will Continue to be a Heavily Weighted Ranking Factor

Evan Finkelstein, Head of SEO at New York Life

Behavioral data-driven content, fast page load times, and intuitive user experience will be valuable focus areas for digital marketers in 2022.

AI-powered algorithms like Google’s MUM can scan content in multiple languages across various media in addition to synthesizing their own answers. This will mean more competition for marketers, more zero-click searches, and more of a need to differentiate sites through engaging copy, fast site speed, and good UX.

'Content that makes the cut in 2022 will address searchers’ frictions and answer their questions as a part of a larger data-driven journey, not just focus on key search terms.'Click To Tweet

Search engines will increase the weight of page speed and user experience as ranking factors every year. Make sure your site’s technical foundation is solid to give your content an edge.

Amanda Tento HeadshotQuality Content and Information Will Continue to Prevail

Amanda Tento, Founder of TDM Marketing

'If we have learned anything from 2020 and 2021 it is that predictions are a thing of the past. With the current state of the world, we saw firsthand how one single event impacted the entire world in every aspect for years to come.'Click To Tweet

With that said, the major Google search algorithm updates of June and July 2021 have made us more aware than ever of the importance of quality information. From the details of your Google Business Profile (GBP), your website information, and your social media content. 

One way to think of it is to imagine that anywhere you input information online as a test. Google wants to know the most up-to-date information about your business as possible. Make sure you put the right answer in and not just once, but every time. 

That may seem like a daunting task or a ton of pressure, but the easiest way to do this is to have a team member scroll through each social platform, directory listing, and all pages of your website with a red pen ready to mark any inconsistencies. 

Another aspect that has been important for years, and whose importance seems to grow each year is your website speed. Make sure that your websites load quickly and display well on mobile devices. All of these factors will affect your ability to rank your GBP and Google Maps listing. 

One of our final predictions for 2022 is even more importance placed on review text. Google now pulls text directly from reviews based on the search query performed.

See the two examples below:

Review Text Marketing Predictions for 2022

This will continue to grow in importance as Google updates this function. The more reviews you have, the more review text you have and the better chance you have of showing up for more searches. 

The bottom line is to continue using best practices in marketing and SEO, particularly for Local Search, which is a very important part of pandemic recovery for small businesses. 

Darrell Williams Headshot

Personalize Video Marketing to Promote Products and Services

Darrell Williams, Founder of Growth Hack Guides

'I predict that 2022 will present opportunities to utilize video unconventionally. I specifically see videos being used as a concierge service to increase conversion rates for brands.'Click To Tweet

Most people would rather have face-to-face interaction with someone to help them versus communicating with a chatbot, especially for high-end products or services. Forbes stated 86% of consumers prefer humans to chatbots.

Hubspot reported 55% of consumers use videos for purchase decisions. Given both of these metrics, it makes sense for brands to invest in a more personalized experience using video. Let’s not forget the pandemic has forced us to adapt to consistent face-to-face communication via video. People are more comfortable now more than ever with communicating via video. 

Sherry Bonelli Headshot

Google MUM: We Have To Create Content Around Complex Searches

Sherry Bonelli, Owner, Early Bird Digital Marketing

In 2022, we will see Google MUM and AI, in general, be more prevalent and become even more sophisticated.

Typically, for complex searches, people have to do multiple keyword searches to find all the answers they need. Let’s say someone is planning a trip to Miami, FL. First, they’d need to look up ways to get there (driving vs. airlines), if they fly into Miami, they will probably want to find out rental car prices. Next, they would want to find hotel accommodations, figure out some sightseeing activities that will entertain everyone going on the trip and they’d probably want to also check out some of the best restaurants. This means that they would need to do multiple searches to find answers to all these questions – and more. Enter Google MUM (Multitask United Model).

One of the great things about MUM is that it can multitask. MUM will 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. So people can get answers to questions like, “What should I do to plan for my trip to Miami” (hopefully) in fewer search queries than ever before.

Long-tail search result

In complex queries, the streamlining comes from combining entities, sentiments, and searcher intent to determine what something means so searchers can find information faster.

Google AI Example

With Google’s AI getting smarter and smarter, this means in 2022 business owners need to have capable and experienced SEO content writers and people on staff with video production and photographic skills so they can literally create content on their site that fulfills a complex “searcher’s path” to increase the chances of Google showing their website in these intricate search queries. As an example, stock photos probably aren’t going to cut it anymore. Original photos are what Google will most likely want to see.

'The content on your site should fully answer searchers’ very specific questions and should be a one-stop-shop on very particular topics. The goal? Users can get all the information they need on your website without performing multiple searches.'Click To Tweet

Next year businesses and digital marketers should plan on optimizing their content for a searcher’s intent “path” and create content that completely answers as many questions as possible on that path.

Google Business Profiles: LOTS More Changes and Enhancements To Come In 2022

With Google recently announcing the name change of Google My Business to Google Business Profile, we should expect to see even more changes, enhancements, and features to Google Business Profile in 2022.

With the name change, new features were announced, like a business being able to claim their Business Profile and fix issues like suspensions directly from search. Editing your Business Profile from search or the Maps App is the “new” recommended way for single-profile businesses to edit and manage their Business Profiles – even though they can still manage their profiles from the Business Profile Manager as usual.

Google Business Profile Example

With all the new changes to Google Business Profile in 2021like managing and editing your profile from search and Maps, the Review Removal Request Tool, Messaging for Desktop, vertical-specific updates, category restrictions for Service Area Businesses (SABs), new business insights data and more – we’d be foolish to think that Google didn’t have even more features and functionality up their sleeves for 2022.

Already Google Business Messages (i.e., a chat feature) can be integrated into Google Business Profiles (and replaces the typical Google Business Profile Messages when implemented) and other properties. My prediction is that other groups within Google will create features and functionalities that can appear in Google Business Profiles, making them even more robust. The goal? Make Google Business Profiles so feature-packed and full of information that searchers don’t even have to leave Google search to decide what local business they want to contact and go with.

I also expect Google to introduce more attributes to enhance listings, make the insights more data-rich and introduce even more ways to connect with potential customers.

Google Business Profile Attributes Example

Over the past year, we’ve also seen improvements to the claiming process itself, making it especially more clear for Service Area Businesses (SABs). My prediction is that the claiming and verification process will continue to be refined to make it less confusing and easier for businesses to claim their listing – all without making it easier for spammers to get away with setting up fake profiles.

In 2022 Google Business Profiles will remain one of the best ways for local businesses to rank on Google. And, to keep that standard up, Google will have to keep adding to the feature set. At the same time, business owners and digital marketers will have to keep up with all the updates and enhancements.

Google’s Business Messages Will Get More Adoptions – And More Attention!

According to Ipsos, almost 8 in 10 customers want to buy products using chat or messaging. Enter Google’s Business Messages (not to be confused with Google Business Profile Messages) Google’s Business Messages is a “chat” feature that can appear on your Google Business Profile, Google Maps and even on your website, app or social channels. In 2022, we will see more and more businesses adopting this chat feature so they can connect with their customers on a multi-channel level.

In order to get this chat feature, you need to work with a Google Business Messages partner. (Note: when Google’s Business Messages is implemented, Google Business Profile Messages is replaced with this “chat” functionality.) For instance, I used HighLevel to integrate it with my Google Business Profile and it was super simple:

Google Business Message Feature

Since customers are more demanding than ever and really expect to reach businesses in multiple ways – almost at a 24/7 pace – having a tool like Google’s Business Messages makes sense – especially since you can use it on Google properties as well as your own.

In 2022 I predict that more and more businesses will start adopting this tool and we’ll see more people chatting!

Google Business Profiles May Become a Premium Offering

Marshall Nyman, Account Director, Rio SEO

I predict Google Business Profiles will move to a paid or premium offering for enterprise brands. Marketers should be more focused on citations with just top partners like Google, Apple, Bing, and Yelp to optimize their local rankings. The top challenges are responding to reviews at scale and getting high-quality photos of all locations. Working with an enterprise-focused solution can mitigate these challenges, help you avoid publishing misinformation, and maximize your local presence scale.

These are just a few of the digital marketing experts’ marketing predictions for 2022 that we polled, however, we will cover even more predictions that are more local marketing-focused in our upcoming webinar. Register today to hear their local search marketing predictions for 2022.