The ball has dropped and a new year is underway. It’s time to reevaluate our marketing strategies for the new digital market. Keep in mind that the SEO basics haven’t changed; you still need content, backlinks and well-optimized meta elements to rank well. However, we also have to take into account all of the changes that happened in the digital market in 2014. The first thing we need to do is take a look at the recent updates in the local search world:
- The most important update to the local search arena was the Pigeon Update released on July 24, 2014. It might not be news right now, but the Pigeon Update was recently rolled out in Canada, Australia and the UK. This means that Google has seriously buckled down on search. Pigeon is the latest major algorithm update that aims at improving local listings in search results. If your site has not already been optimized for Pigeon, now is the time.
- Google dropped the Local Carousel for many types of businesses in December of 2014. Most notably affected were local restaurants and hotels. In place of the carousel we now have a three pack list that expands into another SERP for user interaction, making it imperative for your listings to be updated at all times for maximum visibility.
- Google has also put a heavier emphasis on business listings on Google+ and Google My Business (Google Local). Consistency, correctness and quantity of detail on these listings have become a major factor on local and map results.
Instead of optimizing for specific keywords and trying to find a way to fool Google or “bait” users, optimize for relevant themes to create a grand picture of your site. Keywords will no longer rank your site by themselves, especially not for local results. Here are a few things you will want to do:
- Make sure you have unique and quality content on as many pages of your site as possible, especially the homepage. Don’t forget to add geo-targeted keywords naturally in the text to localize the results.
- Include geo-targeted keywords in the title tags, meta descriptions and headers where it makes sense and fits naturally.
- Make sure all of your business details on local listings are consistent and correct. This includes Google My Business.
- Incentivize more positive reviews for your business, especially to your Google My Business page.
- Gain quality backlinks to your site.
It’s time to stop focusing on individual elements and start focusing on the big picture. 2014 was full of big updates to local search results, and it is unknown what kind of changes 2015 will bring. Therefore, it is crucial to be cognizant of upcoming modifications so that your SEO strategy is up to date. It is also important to continue to be flexible and change with time because optimizations that might work now, may not work in the future.
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