Thanks in no small part to Google’s Pigeon update, local SEO has really been put through the ringer in 2014. While change is a given for both local and organic search, it never hurts to look ahead and try to anticipate the future. Any proactive steps that can be taken certainly beats sitting around in a reactive mode waiting for the sky to fall or for golden opportunities to be lost. With that thought it mind, here’s a sneak peak at what 2015 might hold for the local SEO industry.
Voice Searches Threatens Local Search
Google’s Now, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri voice recognition apps that permits mobile device users to verbally control their smartphone. You can send text messages, check on the local weather, find services, and update your calendar appointments with a basic spoken command.
While having your own digital personal assistant to help you with some of life’s mundane chores sounds great, the implications for local search is something less than great. These apps ability to access and process in-depth information from the web and perform a wide range of actions based on that information has many local SEO experts worried.
Imagine that it’s late at night and you’re hungry. When you instruct an app to “Get Chinese takeout food,” she automatically searches for a local takeout restaurant that offers late night delivery in your area. You never even see a search results page or view a per-per-click ad. This might be a great convenience for you, but it’s absolutely devastating to the other Chinese restaurants that never had a chance to get in front of you with their listing.
Your best defense against the new voice recognition software is to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile and semantics, the NAP and business hours are listed. With an estimated 79 percent of mobile device owners making local searches, you simply can’t afford to wait any longer to be prepared.
How Google’s Pigeon Update Will Affect Local Search
Every major Google algorithm update is followed by a number of tweaks and adjustments as Google responds to unintended consequences and other problems related to the algorithm’s implementation. As 2015 rolls out, expect to see more fine-tuning of the Pigeon update, which basically integrated a number of organic search factors into local search.
Your website needs to incorporate basic organic search practices if it is going to rank well for local search in the coming months. Make sure that your web pages are properly optimized with keyword themed content, structured data, proper heading and title tags and that all photos are alt image tagged.
Include your business listing on appropriate local and niche directory sites serving your local market area. Add relevant social media channels and review site listings. Why not take advantage of this tactics to help you own more of the real estate in the SERPs, by having a result from your website and possibly your Yelp or any other business profile.
Be Prepared for Major Changes to the Google+ Local Platform
We have already seen a few changes to the business pages in the last weeks of 2014. Some of those changes include are the use of virtual offices, the category it’s listed under, the use of descriptors in the title, and if two brands are in one space only one name can be used. Google+ Local has been ailing for quite some time, and 2015 may be the year Google either admits defeat or comes up with a major overhaul. In the meantime, maintain your Google+ Plus Local presence. Positive customer reviews displayed on your G+ Business page should continue to provide valuable local ranking traction.
As Google continues to move the goal post for organic and local search being proactive is a must to ensure there is no drop off in ranking when a new algorithm update is rolled out. In the past two years I have been lucky enough to not have any of my projects compromised by algorithm updates and with by being proactive have seen positive growth. So Happy New Year to all and hang on to your hats because it might be a bumpy 2015 for organic and local search.