Local SEO has gone through a major change in the last few weeks. Now we have a single standardized set of three local results across both desktop and mobile devices instead of the variable pack of one, three, or even seven results.
So how does this change affect local businesses? Many local businesses have fallen out of sight due to this reduction in visibility of almost 60 percent. This means that the competition for affordable local SEO services in Los Angeles stands to increase in coming months.
This change also means that sponsored local results may slowly take over the standardized local results, leaving little to no room for local organic listings. Does this mean that free local SEO has come to its end? Does the new standardized local pack affect all areas of local search or just service-type businesses?
With this major change in the way local results are displayed, it is the perfect time to brush up on your local SEO strategy. Smart marketing includes taking potential threats and turning them into opportunities. Let us take a look at some ideas on what you can do to be proactive with your local SEO and marketing strategies.
Affordable Local SEO Services in Los Angeles
The Search Engine Result Landscape
In terms of marketing local businesses, it is important to remember that there is more a page of local results than local organic listings. The local results are a blend of multiple forms of paid adverts, organic listings, local listings, news, images, etc.
There are variations on the positioning of this blend of results, such as local results at the top of the page, adverts at the top of the page, local listings below adverts, local listings below a single organic listing, and so on. It is difficult to pinpoint how Google will continue to refine these variations in the future.
Different Local Layouts
If you local marketing strategy is focused on a single aspect of results pages, you are putting your business at risk. For example, if your business was in position four in local results but had no advertisements or organic results, you can potentially be wiped off the map. By contrast, if your business has visibility in paid, local, and organic results, then you may have lost your local listing temporarily, but you have kept 66 percent of your visibility.
There are recently more local search results with the Snack Pack at the top of the page and adverts on the right. This is similar to the layout of sponsored local listings, which may mean that we are close to a new sponsored listing product from Google.
Sponsored vs. Non-Sponsored Search Results
Aside from interface changes, the biggest change with the Snack Pack is that fewer local results are displayed. Before, if there were enough local businesses, a seven pack would have been displayed instead of the new three.
This means that there is increased competition for the remaining local slots. Local listings who had previously been displayed in slots four to seven will now have to polish their SEO strategies for local visibility, while the first three slots will need to work harder to retain their visibility.
Both organic and paid results will become even more important for local businesses. Affordable local SEO services in Los Angeles should take into consideration both of these routes of local results in order to climb up on the visibility ladder.
Summary of what has changed:
- three listings instead of seven
- decreased window of opportunity=increased competition
- Google testing paid local results
- certain local results allow review stars filter
Summary of what stays the same:
-reviews still relevant for clicks
-citation consistency still important
-marketing and branding strategies still very important
-links and local authority still critical in competitive fields.
Affordable local SEO services in Los Angeles, such as Arpi Design, should continue to focus on Google My Business, citation consistency, business reviews and reputation, and local links.
Where Will You Click?
An interesting study on the impact of the Snack Pack by Casey Meraz used click maps and tests to determine where users tend to click.
Screenshot Test: Users were shown a screenshot showing variations of the pack layout and asked where they would click:
- listings without reviews are usually ignored
- local results get 50 percent of clicks, only when they have reviews
- organic results take up most traffic where there are no reviews, getting 30 to 60 percent of clicks
- paid clicks take up about 15 percent
User Test: Users sat down and reviewed search results. They were given a scenario where a family member was in jail and they needed a bail bond business.
- since reviews are vital, listings without reviews are ignored
- positioning is vital where a review is present
- negative reviews used to discount businesses
These studies show the importance of reviews for a local business or service provider. If you have an organic listing, but not a local listing, showing those good reviews will only help your business.
Affordable local SEO strategies in Los Angeles are most definitely impacted here. It is important to polish Local Search Engine Optimisation strategies in order to remain visible within a smaller pack of search engine results.
In order to get local SEO strategies dialed in, it is important to focus on the core elements:
Keep in mind that citations and reviews are important but carry diminishing returns, while genuine links from relevant sources add value and are the main factor in determining whether your business is able to jump in or stay visible in the local pack.
Organic SEO is still very much vital for local businesses and offers a range of benefits. Focus on generating more organic visibility with the following tips.
-make sure location-specific optimization is fine-tuned
-consider location-specific service pages
-reviews are essential for clicks
-links and authority must be authentic
Consider working with affordable local SEO services in Los Angeles such as Arpi Design to help you identify problems and fine-tune your business’ organic visibility.
When organic and local strategies are optimized with your website, a listing exists in both local and organic results, which doubles the exposure around keywords. Organic SEO can also widen your visibility outside of the local pack into related service areas, which is why it is the most flexible and reliable driver of site traffic.
One might assume that paid search is not as effective as organic based on the above results, but it can be a very useful tool in your marketing strategy. In fact, data suggests that paid search can outperform organic SEO 2 to 1 when it comes to commercial searches.
Location-specific keywords are relatively low volume, so with an aggressive marketing strategy you can have a link in paid, local, and organic, tripling the chance of being found online.
Paid search provides other tools as well such as re-marketing, which is vital for building and exposing your brand through generating thousands of impressions. To summarize:
- paid search adverts can be expanded to increase visibility
- paid search adverts provide click-to-call and review extensions, enabling users to get in touch quickly and easily
- reviews are still critically important
- utilize all PPC elements for convincing adverts: site links, callouts, location extensions
- utilize re-marketing to build awareness and trust
- utilize geographic targeting options for controlled ad visibility
There is a lot of stigma around pay-per-click advertising, because many small businesses have come out with no return on their investment. This makes people believe PPC does not work because no one clicks on advertisements.
In reality, PPC is a flexible addition to your marketing strategy that can boost visibility. If you have lost local visibility and have organic SEO issues due to penalties, PPC may temporarily be your only option. Even if paid search becomes a tool you utilize once in a while to for a boost when business is slow, it is a useful and rewarding platform for those who commit to making it work.
Sometimes all a new local business needs is generating leads as the missing piece of the marketing strategy.
When trying to drive traffic to a website, simply providing content in exchange for email addresses can give us more ways to keep in touch and build credibility with out target user.
For example, an electrician can create a simple document that provides a few tips to help conserve electricity during the summer and winter months. This document can then be converted into blog posts, social media posts, and video marketing posts on channels such as Youtube.com.
Often times content marketing is done poorly or ignored entirely. Using the electrician example again, the Youtube videos could end with a question to engage the users.
In general, good content marketing should provide a way for you to engage your audience, which will in turn build reputation and credibility.
Social media seems to be a tough marketing aspect for many local businesses – especially service-related businesses. In short, who want to follow their electrician on social media platforms?
It is important to consider your realm of business and how to implement social media in your marketing strategy. If your business is selling shoes or interesting accessories, for example, social media will definitely play a bigger role in your marketing strategies.
Social media is easier when it is a part of a multi-approach marketing strategy. Social media channels can be a useful way to get content in front of your users if you target specific geographic areas.
Traditional businesses may want to limit the amount of time spent on social media, yet be authentic and use the platforms to build social proof around your business.
In a few hours a week, the following strategies can be implemented:
- post links to external reviews and testimonials
- request reviews from happy customers
- provide relevant and seasonal content
- be present by responding to questions and inquiries
- use adverts to promote lead generation content
- build an email list to keep in touch with updates
In general, do not complicate your social media posts and build a community by being available as a source of advice.
Email updates are an important tool in a well-rounded marketing strategy. When gathering email addresses from users and using them to keep in touch with existing customers, you are ensuring that your business stays in the mind of the user.
If the user conducts a Google search and sees your paid/local/organic listings and reviews, it attracts them to the business much more easily.
With email marketing, it is important to provide value without being annoying or excessive. Whether you are sending tips or providing offers, ensure your business stays on the user’s mind.
Some key areas to focus on for local businesses are:
- monthly newsletter with valuable information and tips
- offers or promotions related to seasonal activity
- keep in touch with previous customers, generating repeat business
- generate reviews on Google+, social media
In general, affordable local SEO services in Los Angeles should provide a well-rounded marketing campaign for local businesses looking for visibility. A marketing strategy that includes local SEO, organic SEO, PPC, unique content, social media, lead generation, and email newsletters will deliver more leads and allow your business to survive Google’s constantly changing search algorithms.