Local SEO has evolved at rapid-fire pace over the last three years, a trend that will continue into 2015. Smart marketers have their eyes on upcoming trends in local and are getting in position to reap maximum benefit.
Content is still king, but rather than a trend or buzzword, it will continue to gain ground as a tenet of good marketing. High quality, relevant content is the foundation of any website; the ability to entertain, engage and ultimately convert all depend on content, in one form or another.
So what’s next in local SEO? Here are our five predictions for 2015:
1. Enhanced Hyperlocal Neighborhood Data
This year, Google rebranded Google My Business, launching the Pigeon algorithm, and removing the Carousel for hotel listings. Local listing accuracy, particularly when it comes to your NAP, is more important than ever.
As search algorithms continue to drive more relevant results based on user locations, optimizing local landing pages and local listings with neighborhood information can add significant value for multi-location businesses. Hyperlocal means getting specific in your language and offers, as well as using zip code and other geolocation targeting parameters when and where you can. In 2015, expect to utilize the neighborhoods in which you do business to enhance your local information, social presence, reviews and SEO.
2. Real-time Inventory
Customers are already expecting near real-time communication today and won’t stand for being put on hold anymore in 2015.
Traditionally, products in search results are managed through Product Listing Ads at a monumental cost. Having the ability to take those same product feeds and apply them to local landing pages with “in-stock” attributes is the next major leap for local search. Adding relevant products at the local level will increase conversions through evergreen content in organic search, and allow brands to control the conversion funnel at a reduced cost.
Bing predicts 2015 will be the year of the wearables, based on their analysis of this year’s top searches. They’re not alone in their lofty predictions on the popularity of devices like Google Glass and Apple watch; Berg Insight estimates that shipments of connected wearable devices will reach 19 million units in 2014, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 54.7% to 168.2 million shipments by 2019.
As wearables continue to gain traction, there will be an increased focus on bringing local relevancy to apps that leverage navigation and local business information. Brands can WIN in this new arena with central management of their data as well as having a solution that is flexible to adapt with wearable needs.
4. Mobile Will be King
Mobile traffic is predicted to overtake normal web traffic by 2015, according to Morgan Stanley.
Google is already placing “Mobile Friendly” tags to websites that have brought mobile-first design into their campaigns, but brands must act now as more and more options outside of Google also place preference on a mobile user experience. Responsive design enables your website to resize and reformat itself to suit the device used to view it. In addition, having a standalone mobile-optimized site for search engines to index is a plus. Is your site mobile friendly? Check out Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool.
In 2015, as more consumers than ever before access websites from mobile devices, the experience they have when doing so is critical.
5. Beacon Marketing
Digital geo-targeting and geo-fencing have already been in play with paid search targeting users at a very specific location, but technology is advancing to bring this type of feature set to desktop and mobile browsers and beyond just apps. In-store beacons are evolving rapidly, as well, giving users access to more choice and specific offers based on their proximity to specific products or store areas. Brands should start integrating beacon-type marketing into their future plans for a local strategy.
BONUS: Buy Online/Pick Up In-Store
This type of local commerce has emerged over the past couple of years, with big brands such as Best Buy and Advance Auto buying in. Customers can shop online from inside the store, with the expertise and assistance of store staff; special offers can be applied online to incentivize the transaction. Consumers want the convenience factor and brands want to shorten the conversion funnel.
Including this option on local product pages, in conjunction with real-time inventory, will drive more qualified organic traffic and conversions.
In 2015, adherence to local SEO best practices will be critical and form a solid foundation on which to build other efforts. The ability to optimize and verify local business listings in bulk, integrate best practice local SEO into desktop and mobile local landing pages, and monitor citation accuracy will give retailers the edge over competitors next year.
Author: Bill Connard, VP of Local Search Solutions, Rio SEO
Originally posted at Localsearchinsider.org