2017: Guide to Local Search Optimization

Written by: Jason Bayless | January 12, 2017
Understanding local SEO is one of the most important parts of establishing a successful and well-known, local business. Whether you’re just getting started in these efforts or have been working on your online presence for quite some time, changes in how first-page placement is determined are critical to consider. In 2017, you can look forward to major search engines like Google placing a greater focus on relevance, location, ease-of-navigation, and popularity. The detailed guide that follows will help you establish an effective optimization plan that’s both easy-to-manage and budget-friendly.

1. Build An Attractive Site That’s Enjoyable And Easy To Use

All businesses that hope to maximize their true potential need websites. Having a website, however, isn’t enough on its own. Make sure that your pages are properly coded from the outset and that your visitors can enjoy rapid loading speeds. You also want a site that is just as visible and viable on smartphones and tablets as it is on laptops and computers. Mobile accessibility is a key factor that Google and other search engines will be considering in 2017 when determining page placement. After all, more users are opting to access the web while on the go than ever before. Your site will additionally need to be easy to navigate and it should deliver the information that consumers expect to see when clicking your links.

2. Set Up Your Google My Business Profile

Set up or claim your Google My Business listing. Make sure that your profile is both accurate and complete. Avoid entering in superfluous information when keying in addresses or phone numbers. If you have multiple addresses and phone numbers, use your primary version of each and leave everything else for the contact page on your website. Your Google My Business profile should also have photos, video links, links back to your web pages, genuine reviews from your past customers, and a general yet detailed description of the services or products you supply. Check to see that your hours of operation are up to date and embed a Google My Place map on your website’s location or contact page.

3. Start An Ongoing Campaign For Building Organic Links

Content, link building, and RankBrain are three factors that will play the greatest role in determining how well your site ranks in 2017. For local optimization, however, links (which are viewed as a sign of popularity), location and relevance are the three factors that will help you land in the hyper-local results that Google aims to provide. Local link building efforts can be accomplished by placing links in your social media posts, on your press releases, blog posts, guest blog posts, advertising video descriptions and more. Each time your business is mentioned on any third-party website, ask the site owner to include your URL. You can also use niche-specific directories and business directories to generate more links, but be sure to use these platforms sparingly. In 2017, organic link-building efforts are virtually guaranteed to rule the roost.

4. Start Auditing And Tracking Your SEO With SaaS Technologies

Rest assured that if you aren’t currently auditing and tracking your SEO, then you’re probably losing money. SEO in 2017 is moving away from automated practices and back towards more manual, management efforts. When it comes to tracking results, however, more companies are will be relying on software as a service (SaaS) solutions. These platforms will give you a clear and cohesive understanding of how both individual and cumulative efforts are performing in real-time so that you can better streamline your campaigns for cost-effectiveness and success.

5. Regularly Publish Fresh And Insightful Content

In 2017, content should still be one of the highest priorities within your SEO plan. Fresh, relevant and insightful content is how quality and organic links are built. When people like and link back to your posts, they’re creating the best and most effective links for establishing a robust link profile. You also have to bear in mind the fact that SEO is not the be all and end all of marketing your business. Everything that you do to optimize your site for search engines can also play a major role in the conversion process. In fact, good SEO can build trust, proactively protect your reputation and establish you as an industry authority.

6. Understand The Significance Of RankBrain

RankBrain is Google’s new artificial intelligence and in 2017, it will be playing an increasingly greater role in determining page placement. There’s little that can be done to make RankBrain work better for you given that this learning AI is constantly changing and constantly expanding its capabilities. One thing that is known for sure, however, is that RankBrain is poised to do away with both spam and black hat SEO entirely. Thus, if you’ve been using any unsavory SEO practices, 2017 is definitely the year to let these go and move back to white hat strategies.