As another whirlwind year comes to a close let’s take a look at what changed in Local SEO in 2017, the lessons we learned, and how we can use that information to create a winning 2018 Local SEO strategy.

With the number of changes that happened in search engine optimization, especially on the local level, there are new factors to take into account when planning for more effective Local SEO in 2018.

Local businesses owners won’t need to make significant changes, as traditional local SEO tactics are still useful. However, businesses that recognize and capitalize on new and better ways to optimize for local search are the ones who will rank above competitors in key local search results.

2017 Local SEO Lessons Learned & 2018 Local SEO Strategy Planning

Take advantage of the opportunity to grow your business using lessons learned from Local SEO in 2017 to build a better 2018 Local SEO strategy.

2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors

Many Business Aren’t Optimizing for Local Search or Doing It Wrong

As we worked through 2017, small and local businesses became increasingly aware of the importance of showing up in local search results, and the colossal impact ranking high in search and map results had on earning more revenue and growing their business. Though business increased their local marketing budgets, they still lagged on using location data to optimize their product and services web pages for search.

Ranking low in search results, or not ranking at all makes a business invisible.  That means no new customers, no growth, and a declining customer base who has or will find another business on their next search.  The winners in 2017 were businesses who knew how to use location data, business listings, and reviews to let search users know that they were close by, open for business, and loved in their community.

ADD TO YOUR LOCAL SEO STRATEGY:

Location data such as city, address, neighborhood, and landmarks should be consistently and accurately be a focus of all on-site and off-site local search optimization activities. 

The first priority for showing up in local and map search results is to optimize your Google My Business Listing by filling it out in its entirety, adding photos with your location in the tags, and getting continuous positive reviews posted to your Google listing. 

When a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are inconsistent on different online directories search engines, don’t want to use that business in results and possibly give their search users bad information.  That means your business won’t rank in local searches if your business listings are inaccurate.  Ensure your business listings are accurate, consistent and everywhere they need to be.

Online Reputation Isn’t Solely Under Your Control

Your business’s online reputation isn’t solely under your control; this is probably why they call it Reputation Management and not Reputation Control. Your “brand” and the perception of your business is no longer made up of the marketing messages you create internally. With the dozens of platforms available for customers to review and rate your business with ease, you have to MANAGE what is said and displayed about your business.

2018 Local SEO Reviews Important

One customer can turn a five-star reputation into a low-rated nightmare.  With the influence of user-generated content and social proof becoming stronger and stronger as more people rely on internet searches to do research and make buying decisions, businesses need to understand the importance of having a positive and persuasive online presence.

ADD TO YOUR LOCAL SEO STRATEGY:

Reputation Management has to be a part of your local SEO strategy going forward.  Ensure you have a Reputation Management process in place that gathers feedback from customers, handles negative experiences before customers hit review sites, and pushes your happiest customers to leave reviews on sites that matter most to your business.

Reviews are a high ranking factor for local search and also factor into appearing in the local pack on Google results pages, right below those top ads.

2018 Local SEO Mobile Searches

Mobile Smartphone and Tablet Users are Increasing – and They Demand Mobile Friendly Experiences

You’ll remember the big fuss around “Mobileggedon 2017” and how the world was going to end if you didn’t have a mobile-friendly website.  Websites that didn’t join the mobile-friendly movement were given fair warning that Google would not continue to rank their clunky websites as mobile search engine use grew to be more than 50% of all users.

As mobile use continues to grow, especially in local searches, mobile-friendly sites dominate search results.  Businesses who cater to local mobile audiences with their SEO efforts are also reaping the rewards of marketing focused on literally “being where your customers are.”

2018 Local SEO Mobile Offers

ADD TO YOUR LOCAL SEO STRATEGY:

We’ll work on the safe assumption that almost every single one of your customers have a smartphone (or 5) in their household.  Go beyond mobile-friendly and make your website an ever-mobile-loving marketing tool.  Optimize all aspects of your website for a pleasant experience for people on their smartphones looking to spend money today.  While you’re at it save some trees and figure out a cost-effective way to add digital coupons for mobile users to your POS system.

Planning your 2018 Local SEO Strategy

Traditional search engine optimization techniques are still going to work for your business in 2018.  But as SEO evolves, especially with local searches, there are multiple opportunities to increase search traffic and get your business in front of paying customers with organic search results, map search results, local packs, searches on review sites, and even paid ads.

As you develop your 2018 marketing plans and budget, take time to reflect not only on the lessons learned in 2017 across the local SEO landscape but also weigh and measure the effectiveness of your business’s search optimization activities over the past year.

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • Which activities gave you the greatest push in raising your local search ranking?
  • What is the top-ranked local competition in your industry doing that you aren’t?

Use this information to plan out a 2018 Local SEO strategy that puts your business at the top of local search results where new customers are going to find a highly rated service or product they want to do business with.

 

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USE THESE FREE GUIDES FROM REPUTATIONLOOP.COM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing  |  8 Low-Cost Digital Marketing Tactics  |  Local SEO Checklist: 9 Tips to Get Found Online  |

2017 Reputation Management Checklist  |  Using & Understanding Google My Business INSIGHTS  | Local SEO for Brick & Mortar Businesses Guide

 

Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.