3 Local SEO Trends for 2020
In the past, you may have heard that the importance of SEO gave large businesses with deep pockets an advantage over small businesses. In fact, this hasn’t been the case at all and as we look towards local SEO trends for 2020, small and medium sized businesses remain at the forefront.
Local SEO is the effort to optimize a website not to reach people around the world, but to reach the people who live near to your business. You know, your real customers.
Focusing on local SEO results is a smart strategy for small and medium-sized businesses. Social Media Today reports that 72% of people who search for a business will visit one within five miles of them. Mobile searches are particularly fruitful, as 80% will lead to an in-store purchase.
However, like any branch of SEO, things are always changing in local results. In 2020, local SEO trends are set to benefit your business even more, so long as you can abandon preconceived notions that many small and medium-sized businesses have about how SEO works.
Here, we’ll look ahead to the biggest trends in SEO for 2020 and tell you how you can best take advantage of them.
1. An Emphasis on Natural Language
Once you dip your toes into the SEO world, you will find that everyone is talking about Google’s algorithm updates. While some of the small, frequent changes are never confirmed, Google occasionally confirms massive updates that adjust the way the search engine algorithm understands searches and ranks content.
The latest such update was huge. In October 2019, Google unveiled BERT, an update that will allow the search engine to better understand natural language searches, including those made by voice search.
Google’s Danny Sullivan says that you can’t really optimize for this update and, in a way, he’s right. The update simply allows Google to better understand complex search terms, which can allow the search engine to point people towards your business where it may not have before, without you changing anything.
Imagine someone uses Cortana to voice search for, “can you get medicine for someone else at a pharmacy?” Google says that while the algorithm would have previously given the searcher a general article on how to get a prescription filled, it now gives the searcher an article about whether or not they can pick up someone else’s medicine. This result better meets the user’s search intent.
It’s easy to see how this update can draw people to your local business where it may not have before. The update will allow Google to use more context clues in the search to get the results right. If your potential customer searches “buy bass tackle,” they should be directed to your fishing shop, instead of the local music shop which sells bass guitars.
So, what does this change mean for you? Well, keep in mind that when Sullivan explains that nothing has really changed for SEO strategy, he is talking to SEO experts, who already know that Google wants to reward high-quality content with top rankings. “There's nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged,” Sullivan says.
As a small or medium-sized business, you probably don’t have the time to look into what exactly “great content” means. However, the quality of your content and how SEO enriches it is, by far, the biggest trend you’ll have to grapple with in 2020.
2. Local SEO Needs To Be Content Rich
One of those preconceived notions that you might have about SEO is that a short blog post, which someone has littered with your target keywords, will get you somewhere. However, anyone who has tried this strategy in the last few years knows that no amount of keyword stuffing, or other black-hat SEO techniques will get you more business. Instead, it might attract some Google penalties.
To get real results, you should be creating great content, and using SEO to guide it. SEO trends might point you towards a great topic or to an adjacent topic you can use to expand your content. Or, keywords might help you on the sentence level. Do your customers call your service an “HVAC maintenance check-up” or an “HVAC technician check-up?” You can adjust your webpage to reflect what terms your customers may actually use, without stuffing keywords.
There are a hundred other ways that an SEO specialist can help support great content marketing, and even more ways that content marketing can support SEO results. If you aren’t familiar with how this can be done, it might be time for you to learn, so your local business can start to challenge your competitors in the rankings.
3. Google My Business Posts
Hopefully, your website is already listed on Google My Business. You should appear in Google Map listings, and you should have reviews to support the perceived value of your business when potential customers look at those listings. We covered all of this in our explanation of the basics of local SEO if you need a refresher.
Google provides a basic kit of listings and features through Google My Business, all in the tech giant’s attempt to support local businesses. However, maximizing these basics may not be enough in 2020. You need to have this page, but because your competitors already do, your page needs to stand out. To this end, we predict that an under-utilized featured called Google Posts will be very valuable in 2020.
Google Posts allows you to create announcements on your Google My Business page, including promotions, product announcements, event advertisements, and simple text or image posts. With some strategy, you can use these posts to make your business stand out against your competitors.
Google Posts don’t take much more of your time, as they can overlap with your social media presence. To start, you can share the same updates and promotions you would on Facebook or Twitter. Plus, you can use a tool to schedule your Google Business Posts ahead of time, just as with social media posts.
Get Better Local SEO Marketing Results
It’s more important than ever to give your small business the benefits of a local SEO marketing strategy. At Digital Envy our expert team can develop your strategy and help you improve results, whether you’re a total SEO beginner or already have your Google My Business page running smoothly. Reach out to us to get a jump start on your 2020 strategy.