Amanda Jordan, Director of Local Search for LOCOMOTIVE Agency, said in a session at SMX Next, demand and need. “
The events of 2020 have changed the way local businesses operate and Google search results. And while these changes are designed to make searching easier for consumers, many businesses are unknowingly losing their visibility on Google.
Local marketers are at the forefront of these SERP updates, helping clients adapt to changes in features such as Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business) and Google Maps. However, the difference between these updates is not lost for local marketing professionals.
“Google is changing layouts and testing new things as usual, so it’s no surprise,” says Jordan. “What I found most interesting was the changes to reviews and knowledge panels.”
To help local SEOs navigate these developments, Jordan provided the following strategies.
Improving the quality of local reviews
“Google grouped the reviews by topic,” says Jordan. “This is he one of the updates mentioned in the timeline. You can see that the new review has a new badge.”
Also, Google seems to be reorganizing the way third-party reviews are displayed.
“Third-party reviews will continue to be important as they appear in our knowledge panel,” says Jordan. “They show up in regular organic search results, so it’s important to know where you stand.”
A review’s topic, source, relevance, and recency each play a large role in how it is ranked by local algorithms. Marketers need to know their client’s position on each of these factors to facilitate the creation of quality reviews.
Edit knowledge panels with onsite and offsite sources
Google is giving the local knowledge panel a major overhaul. It looks like it’s becoming “its own entity with a lot of third-party data,” says Jordan. This means that much of the client’s panel information may come from inaccessible sources.
“These things may seem out of our control, but sometimes they can influence what Google uses.
Here are some areas Jordan recommends marketers check to see if their panels contain inaccurate data from sources across the web.
on site sauce
- Site content
- robot command
- Complete your Google Business Profile
- Industry site
- third party review
- google review
Fix your data source and, if possible, test the appearance of your knowledge panel. Even if the fix seems small, Google can find new information if there are changes in any of these key areas.
Prepare to adapt to mobile SERP changes
Business information isn’t the only thing changing in this local environment. Mobile SERP layouts are also changing. Marketers know this happens, but SERPs start converting frequently and not always for the better.
Jordan highlighted an example where one of the client’s local panels lost critical information. Elsewhere in the world, everything was fine. “
Local SERP problems like these may seem complicated to fix, but marketers can use insights from competitor analysis to determine the best course of action. For Jordan, her team updated the client’s local her panel to include each element used by competitors.
Keep in mind that Google often experiments with local search results and may temporarily change how they appear in the SERPs.
Advance your local SEO
“Google continues to focus on online reputation and customer sentiment,” said Jordan, noting what marketers should expect from local SERPs going forward. Engaging clients in these focus areas will help future-proof your campaigns in the long run.
These changes to local SERPs, combined with increased functionality focused on product purchases and reservations, require marketers to be more flexible. But with Google providing actionable data along the way, companies can prepare for what’s coming next.
“We hope that Google’s insights into the business will continue to improve, with trends, user experience, and customer experience displayed in panels,” said Jordan. “
Watch the full SMX Next presentation here (registration required).
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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