Have you been trying to improve your local search ranking lately? While you might want to think about creating a local search strategy from the ground up, it might also be of value to find out about current trends that will help you when trying to appeal to local customers or mobile users, especially if your local area is particularly competitive.
Below we’ve highlighted some of the most recent local search trends in 2018 that businesses and marketers are paying attention to, especially when it can change search rankings for the better.
Local Terms and Phrases
An ongoing trend in the way that mobile and desktop users tend to search is adding terms and phrases to indicate the locality of a certain business. A good example might be:
“Coffee shops near me”
“Closest cinema in Manchester”
This inclusion of a term to find the nearest business of a certain type indicates the user wants to be specific in how close they are to a certain business at the time, and could even indicate they are a mobile user on the go. This research on the fly is something that is increasingly popular in search results, especially given the claim that nearly a ⅓ of all mobile searches are related to location, according to Think with Google.
However, Google Trends has also highlighted that ‘nearby’ and ‘closest’ have both dropped in popularity from July 2017 to January 2018. It has been suggested in this case that mobile users in particular already expect Google to find the most local business they are searching for without them even indicating it in their search terms. With location services operating on most smartphones already, this suggestion does make a lot of sense.
Closely linked to the local terms and phrases used by mobile users, Google has highlighted the fact that local search is driven by ‘micro-moments’. Rather than doing extensive research on a subject, these micro-moments are purely driven by an impulsive need for an answer regarding information, a location, ideas or a purchase.
Fundamentally, this is highlighting the need for businesses to predict exactly what they think customers will be searching for, almost like Google’s own algorithms. If you can have content with the most relevant information, clear business information and an easy route to making a purchase online (or in store for that matter), you will rank the highest in SERPs.
With an increasing amount of instances where mobile and desktop users require a quick answer or an intuitive response from a search, these micro-moments underline how important local search can be for increasing digital traffic to your website and bringing footfall into physical stores.
It would have seemed unlikely 10 years ago but voice search has undergone a revolution and is now on the rise. With improvements made to Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant respectively, customers are now able to make purchases online, turn off the lights and even order pizza without having to lift a finger.
This has immediate ramifications for local search, as voice can also play a huge part in creating the aforementioned ‘micro-moment’ when a customer is simply looking for quick information on a business or a nearby location.
Whilst it is still on the rise, Search Engine Watch has stated that voice search is three-times more likely to be location related than a regular text search would be. Rather than using their mobile or smartphone on the go, the potential customer would more likely be in the car using hands-free, or even just at home doing something else while talking to a smart-speaker such as Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple Homepod.
But how to optimise for voice search? It seems the advice is to make content more conversational, but customers are still requiring the same answers as they would be for a micro-moment on a mobile device, so it’s best to keep your content relevant and business information consistent. The last thing a voice searcher needs is to have to pick up their mobile device if they need a quick answer, phone number or address.
Stay up to date with the current local search trends in 2018, ensuring your business is catering to the various ways customers can now find relevant information, ideas and locations. Whilst this is just a snapshot of a few ways search habits are changing, there are bound to be more developments during 2018 so check back to find out anything else you should know about.
If you want to find out more about local search strategies and put them into practice for your business, have a read of our latest post – How Local SEO Tactics can improve Footfall for your Business.