In this blog, we will share the top 10 blog posts of 2021 to revisit timely local marketing updates, what marketers were most concerned about, and how to shift your strategy to continue to succeed in 2022.
The past few years have reshaped consumer behavior. The term “unpredictable” doesn’t do justice to the ups and downs experienced in every facet of everyday life. Businesses have had to temporarily close their locations. Some have gone out of business entirely. Many have scrambled to adjust their operations to accommodate new customer expectations and reshaped their entire marketing strategy.
What the new year will bring remains unseen, however, we will continue to publish relevant and up-to-date information on the current happenings in the local search landscape. As we collectively look forward to 2022, let’s take a look back at the most popular updates to take place over the last year.
Analyzing future trends and predictions can better help your business plan for what is to come. These predictions hold even more weight when shared by experts in the marketing industry. In this blog, we asked seven renowned digital marketing professionals to share their thoughts on what was to come in 2021.
Many of these predictions, in fact, came true. Dayna Lucio, Director of SEO and Content at LSM thought Google Business Profile (GBP) features would continue to evolve. In 2021, Google released numerous new profile features such as new attributes for different categories, more store hours, and new CTAs to help drive business.
Niki Mosier, SEO Consultant for Two Octobers, also predicted that searches would increase for the hospitality industry in 2021. When reviewing our own client data for over 200,000 locations across the U.S., we found that when comparing searches for hospitality brands in October 2020 versus October 2021, there was an 82% increase in total searches. Additionally, hospitality brands saw a 72% increase in views and a 59% increase in clicks on their listings. Revisit this blog post here.
Falling in line with Google’s many updates in 2021, the GBP API V4.9 update made waves as businesses were able to add more hours for additional services they may offer. These services may not fall within their standard hours of operation. For example, a grocery store that opens an hour earlier for only seniors to ensure their safety.
Additional hours depend on the primary category you’ve selected, and they are available for:
- Delivery Hours
- Takeout Hours
- Pickup Hours
- Kitchen Hours
- Drive-through Hours
- Happy Hours
- Brunch Hours
- Online Service Hours
- Senior Hours
In observance of Women’s History Month in March of 2021, we reached out to several women in the search engine optimization (SEO) field to hear their stories about how they broke into the industry. We also asked them to share any challenges they’ve overcome in their career and any advice they had for those getting started in SEO.
Each story shared was unique and inspirational. As Kerstin Reichert, SEO and Content Lead ad SeedLegals shared, she has seen event lineups and teams progressively becoming more diverse over the last ten years. Kristina Azarenko, Founder of MarketingSyrup and creator of the SEO Challenge course encouraged women interested in kick-starting their career in SEO to just do it. She adds, “you have nothing to lose. It’s always great to have SEO skills under your belt even if you end up doing something else like copywriting, paid ads, etc.”.
Read more of their advice here.
Google’s announcement of their Multitask Unified Model (MUM) caused quite the stir in the middle of 2021. The announcement falls in line with Google’s continued effort to enhance its search technology. The company shares that it will get “closer to helping you with complex needs” with MUM and that it will be “1,000 times more powerful” than BERT.
We asked marketing professionals their thoughts on the MUM announcement and how this will change search. As Derek Hawkins, Manager SEO, Reprise Digital shares, “Google’s MUM update, along with their other AI approaches to search, signals Google’s intent to shift search from keywords and indexes, to provide more customized, user-intent driven results for an audience’s questions.” Amand Tento, Google Business Profile Expert, and Educator agrees the MUM update will be good for businesses that properly manage their GBP listings.
Read more about the MUM update and experts’ opinions in this blog post.
Recently, there has been much debate on whether brands still need to have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). A few years back, AMP were important. Fast forward to the present and Google is being accused of purposely slowing down non-AMP page speeds to force publishers to bid more for paid advertising. With the launch of Google’s Core Web Vitals, marketers began to question if they still need AMP.
In this blog post, we shared:
- The difference between Core Web Vital scores and AMP validated pages
- The benefits and drawbacks of both Core Web Vitals vs AMP validated pages
- Is it necessary to use AMP for better Core Web Vitals?
- Our final verdict on if brands actually need AMP
Hear more on our thoughts on this subject here.
GBP updates came fast and unexpectedly all throughout 2021. If you blinked, you were likely to miss one. That’s why we put together a panel of four GBP experts to walk through the eight most important updates they saw in 2021. This webinar was hosted to help businesses enhance their listings, expose them to any updates they may have missed, and prepare them for 2022.
In this blog post, we broke down the top updates our experts discussed during the webinar as well as other key takeaways. One update of note was the continuation of attributes evolving and changing. At the end of the year, Google introduced new identity-focused attributes such as Latino-owned, women-led, and veteran-led, as well as LGBTQ+ friendly and Transgender safe space. The panel expects more attributes to come in 2022.
To read about all the updates mentioned in the webinar, read on here.
In the middle of September, SEOs saw indented or nested search results and many were wondering how this will impact click-through rates (CTR). Marketers also wanted to know how to optimize for these indented search results. As of now, the feature is still relatively new, and there hasn’t been enough time to see how this will affect CTRs in the long term.
From our own testing, we’ve found that a nested search result tends to get more specific with the actual query, to better meet the needs of searchers. For example, we tested searching for “childcare in Miami”. The first result displayed “The BEST Daycares in Miami, FL”. The second nested result shows “Best 24-Hour Daycares in Miami, FL”. This helps searchers see this daycare facility is one of the “best” in the area and also offers 24-hour services.
Read more about nested results and their impact here.
Google had several notable Core Updates take place this summer. Our readers were eager to learn more about both the July 2021 and June 2021 Core Updates. As with most Core Updates, some websites may see fluctuations in their search rankings, which can often lead to concern.
Both the June and July Core Update happened at the same time as the Page Experience Update, another prominent Google update to take place in 2021. With all these changes, businesses had to watch their local marketing performance closely to see if they were impacted. As with other Core Updates, these fluctuations in rankings often level out over time.
Read more about the July Core Update here.
The first major Google Core Update rolled out in June. Google says these updates help “present relevant and authoritative content to searchers”. Google adds businesses should offer the best content they can, “that’s what our algorithms seek to reward”. The reasoning behind the back-to-back updates was the company’s planned improvements for the June Core Update were not ready to release until July.
Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search at Google, stated, “Because of the two-part nature of this release, it’s possible a very small slice of content might see changes in June that reverse in July”. For both the summer updates and future Core Updates, Google recommends that you:
- Provide a mobile-friendly experience
- Avoid keyword stuffing in page title
- Decrease your page load speed
- Use alt-tags for images to provide more information for Google crawlers
- Keep your sitemap up to date
- Maintain a healthy search presence
Read more about these updates here.
One of our top blog posts of the year was written by GBP expert Sherry Bonelli, who shared her tips on GBP category selection. In the first of a two-part series, Sherry discusses how to pick the best categories for your GBP listing. Picking the right primary category for your business is crucial as it directly impacts your rankings and determines which features will be available to your profile.
In this blog post, Sherry shares useful tools to select which category you should select for your business. One of these tools is the Pleper list of GBP categories. This list shares the 3,000+ categories available to choose from and allows you to see which are most relevant to your business. She also recommends determining which categories your competitors are using, such as the GMBSpy Chrome extension.
Read more of Sherry’s tips for GBP categories here.