7 Local SEO Updates That Will Impact Your Planning for 2022

It has been a fast-paced year with a lot of developments in digital marketing, and local SEO was no exception.

As consumers’ information needs grow and local markets become more competitive, search engines have adapted to meet these needs.

Businesses and local SEO professionals and agencies have new tools, more data – and easy access to both.

And consumers? They gain access to more of the information they care about with an increasingly rich, engaging, and seamless local search experience.

Google and consumers’ changing buying habits disrupted local search

This year, many of our most important local search updates are coming from Google, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Google has responded quickly to consumers’ changing buying habits as a result of the pandemic and remains the dominant force in the market.

  • Google currently has a market share of over 92.4% in the search engine space worldwide.
  • 83% of local consumers use Google Search to find information about local businesses and 90% will make a purchase within one week of the initial search.
  • Google facilitated 2 billion connections such as reviews and reservations between US businesses and shoppers per month in 2020.
  • [Available near me] Searches increased by 100% in 2021; [now near me] Searches by 200% in 2021, and [along my route] Searches 1000% in 2020.

With numbers like these, companies can’t ignore local SEO. Getting a portion of these searches can be game-changing for any business and the life or death of those who struggle.

This means understanding the changes to local search throughout 2021 and adjusting your 2022 Local SEO strategy accordingly. So, what do you need to know about the many updates and changes in 2021?

1. Make Google’s Business Profile more local SEO friendly

When Google renamed Google My Business to Google Business Profile, the new moniker came with updates and new features as well.

Perhaps most impactful is that business owners no longer have to search an app or platform to update or correct their listings. You can add or update contact information, opening hours, add photos, and more directly from Google Search and Google Maps.

You can complete the verification process and address issues like suspensions from search as well, making it easier than ever to gain a strong presence in local search results.

2. Google has made it easy to find and keep up with the latest local news

On the back of the searches for [news near me] Tripling Over the course of five years worldwide, Google has added features to its local SERPs to make it easier to find and create local news.

Google has launched two projects to help journalists enrich their stories with local data and information:

Census Scheme Project

Collect, analyze, and visualize data collected and processed by the Associated Press about a locality.

general knowledge project

Access geographic comparisons, charts, and visualizations to analyze data at the county, state, and national levels.

The search engine also made it easier to find local news stories in SERPs with these updates:

  • local news library: Local news stories relevant to a user query now appear at the top of SERPs, making them easier to find while giving local journalists and publications more visibility.
  • Show episode of the most important news: Trusted local news sources appear alongside major publications, which previously dominated this segment of SERPs.
  • More news in search: Google has improved its ability to associate news with broad queries.
  • local tweetsLocal publications and journalists appear in local news in tweets rather than just published stories.

3. Bing added more visuals and rich results

In March 2021, Microsoft Bing released five updates focused on providing local searchers with a richer experience by improving the integration of visual elements with text-based search results.

  • expandable rotors Give users access to additional information when they hover over a result.
  • Graph-like results Now researchers are tempted to use broad queries to dig deeper into a topic.
  • Intuitive highlights Pull details such as ingredient lists, calories, and nutritional information from the page without requiring the user to click on a website.
  • Integrated visual search It allows users to visually search for similar items by clicking the integrated visual search button.

Why are these things important to local SEO professionals? Bing has incorporated these same concepts into its local search results.

Instead of a carousel of images or text-based facts, Microsoft Bing offers a file visually rich SERP for local inquiries It consists of related resources collected from Bing Maps, top images, visitor reviews, and other sources.

These changes made focusing some of your local SEO efforts on Bing more attractive. Creative companies can own the local search space if they want to get creative with many local search opportunities.

So, if you haven’t done so already, enrich your site and your lists with different media types and content, including user-generated content.

And do not forget to use the scheme.

4. Everyone gets new attributes

Google seems to be constantly releasing new themes, and for good reason.

Themes provide proactive answers to questions often asked by researchers about a particular type of business and are prominently featured in Google Business Profiles.

why? Google is always looking for ways to help companies stand out and better meet search queries.

Features such as traits of black or female-owned businesses, for example, help researchers looking to support businesses of shared value make these connections.

In February 2021, Google added HSE attributes to Google Business Profiles.

With the addition of these features, local businesses can share information about safety protocols and advertise changing or new services such as curbside pickup, offline delivery, and dine-in service.

Google has also included attributes for online appointments, grades, online classes, and digital sponsorships.

Recording calls and messages, accessing new data, and insights into Google Search and Maps helps keep customers engaged by enabling businesses to track customer phone calls and answer missed calls.

All of these can be huge for a busy business. If you haven’t considered the many new themes available in 2021, it should be one of your first local SEO tasks in the new year.

5. Domestic e-commerce got a boost with pointy

In June 2021, 50% of American shoppers said they intended to check online to see if an item was in stock before purchasing their holiday items. But even before that, searches using the phrase “available” increased by 800%.

This means that adding your products to your Google Business Profile and keeping inventory up to date is very helpful. However, it can be a time-consuming feature – one that businesses don’t always have time for as sales increase.

To make it easier, Google has announced Pointy integration.

With this new feature, eligible US retailers can automatically add their in-store product inventory to Google.

Then, it’s updated every time you sell an item, keeping product availability updated online, so searchers always know what you have in stock.

6. The rollout of the first mobile index is still in progress

Indexing offering the first mobile devices has been on the horizon since Google first announced it at the end of 2017.

Since then, there have been several expansions, stops and starts, including a delay in September 2020 in which the search engine stated that it would postpone mobile-first indexing until at least March 2021.

source of the problem? Google cited many tags, including meta tags for bots, lazy loading, blocked assets, core content, mobile images, and videos.

Regardless, it would be unwise to be caught by surprise – if you don’t offer a really smooth mobile experience, you need to get it.

Google search stats tell us that 76% of people use their smartphone to search for something nearby during the day, and 28% of them result in a sale.

So how do you prepare?

The best advice for local businesses and marketing professionals hoping to grab the attention of local searchers on the go, according to Google, is to focus on creating a positive mobile experience.

7. New Free Local SEO Insights & Tools

Local businesses and SEO professionals looking to keep up with all the changes have gained access to some new free tools.

One such tool, developed by Local SEO Guide, is Local-Pack-O-Meter. With it, search engine professionals and business professionals can track data for ten different types of Google search features, including local packages, knowledge cards, shopping, job postings, and ads, to name a few.

The tool works on data collected from nearly 60 million search queries in the United States provided by Traject Data. As a result, the sample size is much larger and more representative of all US inquiries.

And with data going back to May 2020, users can dig into the data to identify exciting trends and insights to advance their strategies going forward.

Another great resource released this year is a research paper from Milestone Inc, which analyzed 500 site-based companies, sessions, and pageviews to better understand which channels are paying the most with the best ROI.

Some ideas include:

  • Referral visits ranked third after organic and local ROI search.
  • However, referral traffic has higher engagement rates.
  • Local search gives the best ROI with the highest pageviews per session.

Meanwhile, Rio SEO has been analyzing aggregate GMB performance metrics from over 200,000 US business websites managed on its platform. Each month, the brand releases a new report with industry-specific performance metrics for search views, clicks to connect, clicks to a website, and more.

If you’re looking for data to inform your 2022 local SEO strategy, you’ll want to be sure to check out these and other opportunities.

What you need to know to have an effective local SEO strategy for 2022

While these seven updates are essential to your 2022 local search strategy, they aren’t the only things you should have on your radar.

If you’re just getting started with local SEO, make sure you set up your products to maximize visibility, conversions in Google search, and get the most out of Google Maps for your business.

For large, multi-site businesses, be sure to take advantage of the data available in the Google Merchant Center to boost your local SEO campaigns.

You will also need to take care of any enterprise local SEO challenges or common business issues in the service area.

More resources:

Featured Image: Shutterstock / RoseRodionova

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