#LSS2017 –Trends & Predictions from Leading Voices in Local Search – originally posted on LSA Insider – The Official Voice of the Local Search Association

Which trends and products will separate winners from losers in the local market? A panel of experts at Rio SEO’s Local Search Summit, provided some insights, perspective and takeaways for the online-to-offline local challenge.

Greg Sterling, Local Search Association


long-windingGreg opened the presentations with a comprehensive view of consumer behavior. Customers navigate a fragmented and complex media universe which leads to a “long and winding path to purchase.” In fact, Greg said that consumers use between three and 10+ sources along the path to purchase.

In most cases, brands are failing to meet the needs and expectations of the omni-channel customer. He shared some stats to reinforce this:

  • 69%[of consumers] agree that the quality, timing or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand
  • Consumer expectations of brands increased 23% but brands only improved by 4%
  • Overall consumers rated brands 38 out of 100 as it relates to how they deliver on key business objectives

Greg reinforced comments from his session from the day before saying brands need to “be the answer” no matter the search experience. From mobile to voice search, the consumer journey is fragmented and brands need to optimize for all of these experiences in order to win and retain customers.

Mary Bowling, Ignitor Digital


Mary’s discussion explored Google’s evolving view of search, starting by citing a quote from Eric Schmidt in 2014: “Searching on a mobile device is very different from a desktop computer. Speed and simplicity really matter. It’s why the best answer is quite literally…the answer.”

This thinking has transformed the search results delivered by the company to be more about relevance and context. But before getting into the technical components of optimization, Mary told the audience it is important to “know your SERPs.” Brands need to understand what the search engine results pages look like on desktop and mobile when someone searches for a brand name.

She shared some observations of what she is seeing on the SERPs today, which have become a testing ground for Google to understand what types of content appeal most to searchers. It is increasingly rare to get results that don’t display “rich results.” In addition, Mary said ads are everywhere including organic results, local packs, local finder and even some local packs are entirely paid.

Google is also putting ads right inside some local knowledge panels. According to a Hubspot stat, for high traffic keywords, ranking in the Featured Snippet saw an average increase in CTR of over 114%, even when ranking number one on page one.

In many ways, Mary said that brands need to help Google present their brands using schema markup. To sum it all up, Mary left the audience with six takeaways:

  1. Know YOUR SERPs
  2. ADS can be a good tactic
  3. FEED Google Info
  4. Use SCHEMA everywhere
  5. Be THE Answer (or 1 of the answers)
  6. The results will only GET RICHER!

Willys Devoll and Marissa Nordahl, Google My Business


Following Greg and Mary’s discussions, Willys of Google shared insight into managing listings on Google My Business. While the amount of “attributes” or data featured on a GMB profile has grown, the company has come a long way in making management of pages easier, especially for multi-location brands.

Expanding on Mary’s discussion of “rich snippets” and the increasingly rich results, Willys explored how Google is taking advantage of an increasing supply of business information on GMB.

Marissa then jumped in to talk about how GMB is offering support to multi-location businesses. Specifically she talked about the GMB API, saying that brands can use the API to create and edit locations, however it does require some technical knowledge (RESTful APIs). Google, however, does create an array of documentation and helpful aids to help brands utilize the API.

Overall the company is focused on providing easier bulk location management in order to provide “simple, useful customer interactions.” Marissa ended by sharing links to various channels to follow for all of the latest news and insights into GMB:

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Author Bio:

Karisa Macias has extensive expertise in local search, digital marketing, and technology.