Is your local search strategy ready for 2014? Although local SEOs have to deal with many of the same trends as regular SEOs, there are certain concerns that have a greater impact on local search. Here’s a look at some of the predictions being made throughout the local search community.
1. Mobile Will Continue to Gain Ground
This one comes as no surprise. Mobile was huge in 2013, and you can be sure that it will be even bigger in 2014. Even though mobile has gained large amounts of influence, it has a long way to go. For instance, only six of the Top 100 Fortune 500 companies maintain websites that meet all of Google’s mobile SEO requirements.
Since mobile searchers are often looking for local results, there is a close connection between mobile and local SEO. To prepare your mobile efforts for 2014, make sure that your mobile site loads quickly and offers plenty of mobile-friendly content.
2. Keywords Will Become Less Important
With Google switching all of its keywords to “not provided” in an attempt to allow completely secure search, many SEOs have voiced fears that this change marks the death of keywords, while others have provided more balanced opinions.
Although “not provided” keywords don’t actually signal the end of the concept of the keyword as we know it, this change does mark a shift towards topic-centric content as opposed to keyword-centric content. SEOs will still use creative methods to come up with data on keywords, but keywords will likely take a back seat to several other important SEO strategies next year. For local SEOs, this will mean continuing to incorporate keywords that indicate your physical location while also emphasizing other strategies like developing better mobile sites.
3. Social Signals Will Affect Algorithms
Currently, local SEOs and SEOs all agree that social signals are incredibly important in establishing authority, but there is still no direct proof that Google actually considers social signals in relation to the rankings.
Many local SEOs expect that social signals will soon begin to affect Google’s algorithms. In preparation for this inevitable development, local SEOs should ensure that they are taking positive action right now to improve the state of their social signals.
4. Fake Reviews Will Begin to Disappear
Local SEOs all know that reviews can have tremendous influence on the success and failure of a business. Since reviews have become so important, there seems to be an unfortunate rash of fake reviews across the internet. The New York Times even reported that many companies have solicited 5-star reviews with a promise of payment.
In 2014, the crackdown on these fake reviews will likely continue to escalate. Although black-hat SEOs will always find ways to slip in a few fake reviews to hurt their competition, companies like Google and Yelp will continue to hunt for ways to prevent fake reviews from deceiving their customers.
5. Google Will Become More Synced
As Google continues to better coalesce its different products, Google+ will become more and more important as Authorship becomes the factor that ties everything together. Keep an eye out for updates in 2014 that will more effectively integrate all of the Google components that currently contribute to the SERPs, including maps, images, and local.
How do you expect 2014 to play out for local SEOs?