The end of the year is often synonymous with relaxation and resetting. As marketers and SEOs, you know the ever evolving search landscape doesn’t rest even amid the holiday season. Which is why you’ve likely ended up on this blog post today, eager to dominate the digital trends shaping 2023 and to learn more about where the future of local search marketing is heading.
The most effective way we’ve found to kickstart the new year on the fast track to success is to gain a deeper understanding of how marketing trends unfolded, shifted, and progressed over the past year. Consumer purchasing behavior largely fluctuated in 2022. This comes as no surprise given the widespread events that impacted the economic landscape—from the war on Ukraine, staggering increases in the cost for goods and services, and preparation for a looming recession.
Despite the abundance of change and uncertainty that’s impacted us all the past several years, don’t overhaul your current digital marketing strategy just yet. Instead, for 2023 we recommend integrating a healthy mix of fundamental and emerging marketing tactics to come out on top.
Recently, we were joined by renowned SEO and marketing industry experts to discuss the numerous search engine updates that took place over the course of 2022, how those updates are impacting the state of local search, and what this means for the future. We’ll also dive into:
- The most impactful search engine updates from 2022, and why they matter.
- What marketing tactics worked in 2022 and what didn’t.
- Demystifying what’s changed with Google Business Profile, Apple Maps, and more.
- What deserves your focus and attention come 2023.
Our webinar panelists included:
- Sherry Bonelli, Owner of Early Bird Digital Marketing
- Steve Wiideman, Senior Search Strategist at Wiideman Consulting Group
- Stefan Somborac, Founder of Marketing Metrology
Google Search is evolving and you need to as well
Google is progressively getting closer to understanding what drives search behaviors and delivering more relevant results to potential customers. To do so, its technology is starting to emulate the way people process information and, in turn, search is progressively becoming more visual, interactive and exploratory. Text-based content will no longer suffice. Instead, content marketers must look to incorporate images, video, and interactive content to improve user engagement.
It’s also useful to look at search results to see what your competition is already doing and how you can make your user experience better. Conduct a Google Search using one of your target keywords. What type of content is ranking at the top? What images are featured for the search query?
Test different content types to see what helps Google best understand your content. Add high quality-visual content to your pages, and use relevant visuals. For example, Sterling Sky switched out an image of a skunk for a quality photo of a lawn with holes in it for a page about lawn care services for animal destruction. Adding visual content to the landing page that clearly showcased what the issue looks like resonates better with Google’s ranking algorithm. In turn, the company achieved a featured snippet with the new image in the search results.
Hiring a photographer to take professional pictures of your service or product is also a great idea. Photographers have expert knowledge of the angles, lighting, and composition necessary to capture an optimal photo.
Go beyond the search box
Diving deeper into visuals, with the introduction of multisearch, visual Search is taking a big leap forward and Google is going beyond the search box. Over the past decade, Google’s valuable real estate has grown from traditional blue links and black text.
Imagery and video-based content is quickly surpassing text content. If your content strategy isn’t evolving to go beyond traditional search results, you risk appearing on the second pages and beyond.
Additionally our panel notes to avoid stock imagery when possible. Stock photos aren’t the best visual representation of your brand. They can’t accurately convey the message and emotion behind your brand the same way real photos can. They may be quick to find and easy to use, however they aren’t ideal for creating authentic customer relationships. Use real photos across all your digital channels, including social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, and more.
Search will continue to be the best way to be found
Brands have a multitude of ways to get discovered across digital channels. Social media marketing platforms like TikTok are making brands household names which leaves marketing professionals wondering where to focus their efforts. Is the best way to get discovered still on Google Search and Maps?
Our panel agrees, local search—whether voice, visual, or text search—will continue to be the best way to be found by internet users in 2023. When customers seek to find more information about a business—even if the business was first discovered via a different digital platform—they typically turn to Search. From our own research, we’ve found 83% of searchers of conduct online searches daily.
To ensure you optimize your online presence, business owners must learn SEO fundamentals and strategies. Having a foundational knowledge of SEO helps your business be found organically and extends the reach of your marketing efforts. Creating well-written content is another must too, whether blog posts, interactive content, product descriptions and more.
Incorporate hyperlocal marketing into your digital strategy
The percentage of web traffic coming from mobile phones has significantly increased. In fact, over half (60%) of all web traffic came through mobile phones. Now that mobile searches are exceeding desktop searches, customers are being targeted locations within a very small radius whenever they seek a product or service. If you haven’t taken hyperlocal marketing into consideration when planning your digital strategy, you may not be presenting the most relevant information to nearby searchers.
Consider each customer interaction you have. What should customers be on the lookout for when they seek out your physical stores? Are you located in a strip mall? Are you near a popular landmark? What cross streets are close by?
Add the answers to the above questions into your location’s landing page content. This not only presents more relevant information to internet users but also to Google search engine crawlers. It proves to Google you are creating unique content specific for that location.
Another hyperlocal marketing tactic strategy is to participate in local community events or doing promotions with nearby businesses to build your backlink profile.
Keep searchers on your page and not back to Google search
As SEO’s we can find ourselves writing content for search engines instead of people. This includes creating hundreds of generic blogs, using keyword stuffing and producing an abundance of content with little unique value. These strategies can potentially work if you improve the content’s quality, but they also are a gamble as it doesn’t provide the best customer experience possible. Google strives to provide a great user experience for every searcher and rewards sites that do the same.
When the competition gets stiff, unique content wins the battle. Provide helpful and useful content on every single page. Do not create content on what you want to showcase, but what searchers are looking for to solve their query.
You’ll also want to create naturally written content. Artificial intelligence (AI) writing tools are growing, however they can’t be used as a substitute for a human writer. Use these tools as a source of inspiration, then write the content in your own words. Relying solely on AI leaves too much margin for error and doesn’t allow you to capture your brand’s unique voice and tone.
We hope you find these digital marketing techniques and tips to be helpful as you start the new year. To listen to the full webinar for even more actionable future of local search marketing takeaways, complete the short form below.