The end of the year is traditionally a time to reflect on all that’s taken place throughout the year. After a few challenging years for many, we largely saw a reprieve in 2022 from the stay-at-home lifestyle we grew accustomed to. Because of this, we also saw large shifts in consumer behavior. From our own research, we saw clicks for driving directions on Google Business Profiles skyrocket year-over-year as customers began feeling more comfortable shopping in-person again.
Each year, we review the blog posts our readers were most interested in. We compile a list of our 10 most popular blog posts to highlight posts you may pique your interest too. When looking through these posts, we found many of them aligned with current trends in consumer behavior and the local search landscape—from photo optimization to how to improve your Google Business Profile (GBP) and content strategy.
Below, we’ll share a brief summary of our top 10 blog posts of 2022 and why you should read each. Let’s get started.
As Google trends towards providing a more visual search experience for its users, photo optimization has become a necessity for businesses. The return on investment in doing so is evident too. Google itself found that businesses that add photos to their Business Profiles receive 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.
In a separate photos study conducted by Bright Local, they found:
- GBP listings with more than 100 images get 520% more calls than the average business.
- GBP listings with more than 100 images get 2,717% more direction requests than average.
- GBP listings with more than 100 images get 1,065% more clicks to the website.
It comes as no surprise that our 7 Image Optimization Tips for Google Business Profile Photos took the number one spot of our yearly blog recap. In this post, we share impactful tips to help businesses level up their image optimization strategy, including:
- How to size your images properly
- What Google says you can and cannot do with text on your images
- How Google crops images
- Using stock images vs real images
- Choosing the optimal cover photo
- And more!
Google Business Profiles offer brands a free way to share critical business information with searchers. It also continues to be one of the best ways for businesses to organically get more website clicks, phone calls, and customers in their physical location, which, in turn, results in more sales. But with the vast amount of fields and functionality available to brands, it can be difficult to optimize Profiles to their fullest extent.
In a guest post drafted by Sherry Bonelli, the owner of Early Bird Digital Marketing and an SEO and digital marketing expert, she shared a comprehensive guide on the three different ways to manage your GBP. This informative piece was our second most popular blog post of 2022, and for good reason. Optimizing your GBP helps drive invaluable traffic to your site and stores. It’s often the first point of contact potential customers have with your brand. Therefore, you want to make sure your first impression is one to remember.
Potential customers look to past customer experiences prior to making a purchase. In our 2022 Local Search Consumer Behavior Study, we found 35% of local consumers said they trust online reviews somewhat or much more than personal recommendations. Knowing customers are looking at what others are saying about your brand—the good, the bad, and the ugly—brands need to be prepared to respond to positive and critical feedback.
More often than not, businesses start with replying to all negative reviews they receive. By doing so, you have the opportunity to improve your brand image and show customers you care about their needs. Responding may also convert a dissatisfied customer into a customer that would consider doing business with you again. But, how do you respond to a scathing review effectively and with empathy?
In our third most popular blog post of 2022, we collected seven phrases for customer service teams to use when replying to customer complaints and negative feedback, whether the feedback is received online, over the phone, or in person.
Google continued its quest to provide the best user experience possible for searchers by rewarding brands who create quality content with its recent Google Helpful Content Update. The overarching goal of the search algorithm update was to “ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.” With this update going into effect brands that produce low-quality content may see noticeable dips in their website rankings. One type of content Google deems to be low-quality is duplicate content.
Perhaps it was yet another widely announced search algorithm update, but people’s interest in how duplicate content impacts SEO solidified our fourth most popular blog post in 2022.
In the post, we explored what exactly duplicate content is, what Google says about it, and what you need to know to ensure you aren’t penalized with decreases in search rankings and visibility. There’s never been a better time to spruce up your content strategy so we recommend giving this one a read!
Once an undeniable trend we’ve observed in 2022 is consumers are craving travel once again. When reviewing our own hotel client’s local search data—which includes clicks to call a hotel brand, clicks to a website, or clicks for driving directions—we’ve seen noticeable year over year growth. When comparing October 2021 hotel local search trends to October 2022, we saw a 9% increase in total listing views and a 13% increase in total searches.
This interest in traveling and meeting up in person could explain why our Top 2022 Marketing Conferences to Attend: Live and Virtual Events blog post came in at the number five position in popularity this year. In the post, we hand-selected the best events for digital marketing teams to attend, their dates, key speakers, and what attendees can expect to learn at each of the upcoming events. We also found a mixture of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events to accommodate individual preferences.
Google Posts continue to grow in popularity. They’re an additional, free tool businesses can leverage within its GBP to share news, offers, updates, products, and more. Businesses can add photos to their Posts to draw more visual attention to its listings and add a CTA to encourage searchers to take a desired action.
A few years ago, Google added an image carousel to Google Posts. This enables businesses to add up to 10 images in GBP. Carousels can appear differently, depending on if you’re viewing them in your GBP dashboard, on mobile, in a search results feed of all recent Posts, or on desktop search in your Knowledge Panel. In this blog post, we shared 25 creative ways to use the Google Posts image carousel to your benefit.
Seeing that this was our sixth most popular post of 2022, it’s great to see interest in and awareness of Posts continue to grow.
Google has thousands of search algorithm updates each year. For most of these updates, most sites will never notice a change. In fact, for the majority of updates Google doesn’t explicitly state what’s changed. This can leave SEO professionals in the dark about what exactly impacts rankings and creates confusion.
We sought to find out if using special characters, such as – % > ! * $, impacted search engine ranking. As with most questionable SEO practices, there is much debate over whether or not they should be used in content.
Our readers too, were interested in finding out once and for all, do special characters impact search results? We’ll give you the answer when you read our seventh most popular blog post.
At the end of 2021, SEO’s noticed a new search feature which created a lot of buzz in the local search community. It appeared as though Google was testing a new results format to improve the search experience. These results appeared directly below another result but appeared in an indented format. The indented result seemed to support the primary link above.
From our initial analysis of deciphering the information Google is using to determine what result to show in this indented feature, we gleaned that it is likely a combination of:
- Searcher intent
- Personalization based on Google’s data about that individual searcher
- What Google knows about a page from its content and Schema Markup
Want to learn how to optimize your sites for this new search result feature? Check out our eighth most popular blog post of 2022, Nested Search Results: Why Google Search Results Are Displaying Indented URLs.
As evidenced by this blog post alone, Google has a plethora of features available to brands for free to promote its’ products, services, and business information. Google Business Profile Products is one of those features that helps brands build their online presence by sharing their product inventory digitally. By putting your products front and center on your local listings, you streamline the path to purchase and can, in turn, increase conversions by doing so.
As online shopping preferences continue to accelerate, with e-commerce sales accounting for 14.5% of total sales in the second quarter of 2022, brands must prepare to meet potential customers where they are looking. This entails keeping up with emerging trends and new features to stay ahead of your competitors.
In our ninth most popular blog post of 2022, we share what GBP Products are, how to submit products on GBP, and why Google disapproves of some products.
We’ve discussed the importance of adding high-quality, optimized photos to business profiles (and anywhere searchers can find your business online), but what about other media? Video content is also growing in importance for brands and is yet another way to visually represent content. Google introduced a new schema type in the spring of 2021, helping brands better showcase their video efforts.
SeekToAction is one of two schema tags that enable Google to display “key moments” for your videos in Search. Key moments allows users to navigate a video as they would in chapters in a book, letting them watch the moments they find most relevant. For videos that are hosted on your own website, SeekToAction is a much simpler way to mark key moments by allowing Google to do the work of finding them and linking users to those points.
This new schema type points to the importance of using Schema Markup whenever possible to tell Google what it can expect to find on your page. Schema Markup also can help improve your chances of landing a Featured snippet in the Search Engine Results Pages.
Read the full blog post to learn how to add SeekToAction markup on your pages today.
See more local search marketing content
2022 was an exciting year for search marketers, with myriad positive changes and opportunities to advance local search strategies. We anticipate just as much excitement in 2023, and we will continue to cover all local search updates, advancements, and best practices on our blog. Stay tuned for the latest!