Local SEO probably has the highest ROI of all the internet marketing programs that currently exist. This is true for both, agencies and businesses alike.
Local SEO (when done correctly) connects businesses with their target audience, which comprises of local folk like you and me searching for geographic specific services. This could include the local dentist, doctor, lawyer, optometrist or mechanic.
This also makes Local SEO one of the most dynamically changing landscapes of all the SEO flavours.
Google is constantly trying to fine tune its algorithm to provide the best user experience for searchers on-line. Whether its changing the order of the localized 7-pack or including a new carousel, Google is constantly trying to tweak its local search. This makes life for SEO practitioners a challenge.
What can we as an industry expect in 2014?
The below list (in no order of importance) may provide you with some important highlights to look out for:
No surprise here. Google has been pushing its younger cousin Google + ever since it was first launched in 2011.
This comes as no surprise. It is a Google product and Google would like to award extra brownie points to those businesses actively using and updating their Google+ accounts.
Make sure your business has one and more importantly, make sure you update it regularly!
Another no brainer for 2014 will the rise of structured data (Schema). Google has been pushing the widespread adoption of rich snippets and for good reason; users like it.
Rich snippets decrease the click-through rate in the SERPs (search engine results pages), but it tells searchers very quickly which site best suits their needs.
Whether its reviews for a movie or a local wok place, rich snippets shortlists our options without even clicking a search result.
Hyper Local Citations
We have been seeing this rise already with hyper local citations from businesses in the very same geographic location and industry.
This means you will need to find citations beyond just Super Pages and Yellow Pages. Look for very local associations and organizations to get a citation from.
This should be an easy item to cross out. If you find it difficult, get in touch with the business owner. They tend to know this quick easily through word of mouth or networking events and get together. They will also appreciate your research into the industry.
Mobile And Responsive Websites
With the rise of mobile use and search, make sure your local business website has a responsive website. Google itself has advocated using a responsive framework as this keeps all the data and information on the same URL.
This is key.
By creating a separate mobile website means you will need to literally double your SEO efforts because now you have two different websites on two separate URLs. Avoid this headache and create a mobile website with a responsive framework.
Every SEO has come across this issue. A business owner wants to rank in multiple cities. In the past, this was a possible. From what I'm seeing today, it has become increasingly difficult to get first page listing for a city + keyword combination, if your business is not physically in the city.
The 7 pack is almost off limits and even the results below the 7 pack are becoming highly specific to a locale. In most cases, this makes sense. If a searcher is typing in Brooklynn mechanic, why should a result display Queens or Manhattan businesses?
Make sure you optimize for your business in the city where the address is located first, before chasing after other cities.
And there you have it, a short, but concise list of search elements to keep a close eye on in 2014. And who knows, Google may introduce something that we are completely unaware of at this point. The only constant in SEO is change and this is something we have come to expect in this space.