As mobile search has finally taken over as the leader in search volume and technology improves, location based search marketing and local search will become more and more crucial for any business, but especially local business counting on bringing in people in their markets. Adam Dorfman over at Search Engine Land recently did a nice article on the trends shaping location search in 2016 and I will try to hit on the most important pieces below.
- Location Data More Important Than Ever: I have been working with clients and encouraging everyone to make sure that they have consistent business NAP (name, address, and phone) in as many data aggregators as possible over the years. This is a key factor in local search, but now as technology improves and you can target people by their proximity, it is even more important to be accurate and consistent in all the key local databases you can. I spend time every week trying to help people clean up, verify, and figure out why they have horrible NAP data out there. Often it is because they have signed up for too many sketchy local tools that create different phone numbers for them or create duplicate pages. These things always hurt you in the long run. You should own your listings and make sure they are consistent, accurate, and not in duplicate.
- Google Investing More in Local: As anyone that has been working in the Google local space over the past 5 – 10 years knows, it seems to be re-branded, changed, and upated constantly. Seems like every time you go to look at your listing something has changed. Google has made more of a point of prioritizing local and has added local to their search guidelines report. We must keep an eye on the changes and stay up to date with their priorities. It is expected there will be large “disruptions” in Google local this year as they adjust to the renewed focus. I’m sure I will spend a lot of time on the phone with them getting clients information cleaned up.
- Mobile Wallets Will Explode in Popularity as Beacons Drop: Beacons are continuing to grow but the range limitations and high maintenance of beacons are making users think twice and many believe mobile wallets are the wave of the future.
- Apps: More and more local marketing will be done through apps such as periscope, etc as people on their phones are often on apps. Including this as part of your plan if you are reliant on these local searches are important for you to look in to in 2016.
- New Competitors for Google: Google has always been the king of search but Apple is trying more and more to work their way in to the advertising landscape and of course the mobile advertising landscape, as are upstarts like duckduckgo and others. Facebook has always been a competitor as well and has ramped up their attempts at getting part of this advertising market. I have had a natural increase in business owners coming to me to advertise on Facebook in recent months and their interaction is much more intuitive to the end user, though maybe very frustrating when it comes to image acceptance, etc.
2016 will be a very interesting year for local search. It is important to stay on top of your own local data as well as be aware of the new tools out there to help you reach your potential clients and customers when they are looking for you or near you. It is important to stay on top of the news this year as it could be the biggest year for advancement in these areas. If you haven’t gone back and taken care of the basics like getting your NAP data correct and distributed, do it right away, so you are ready for the next steps.