How will the Local Source tag affect SEO?

Written by: Jason Bayless | November 22, 2016
Google has spent the past year or so throwing out constant new wrinkles for SEO, and the most recent one is called Local Source. Like some of the other changes like the move to the three-pack, the Local Source tag is a change to the way Google shows results for local searches. In this post, we will talk about what Local Source is and what it means for doing local SEO.
Much of the work that Google has done in local search recently has focused on local brands and businesses. Google’s goal is to steer people towards these small, local businesses instead of the big national or regional ones. The idea is that these small places would otherwise get totally lost because there is no way they would be able to keep up with the advertising and marketing that the big brands can pull off. It reflects an attitude at Google that an independent local business is probably better quality than a national one, or at least worth a look.
Local Source tags take that same concept and extend it to the Google News feature. Before Local Source tagging, the biggest news outlets dominated the search results for any news query. The five or so most widespread news sources were so much bigger than local papers and websites that they easily topped the lists and got the most traffic, which reinforced their position at the top.
The Local Source tag changes that. Now, as long as the websites are sufficiently optimized, local news sources will have a tag that pushes them to the top of the results pages. The tag will manifest in the form of a small byline that indicates the news sources and emphasizes the fact that it is local.
The local source is often the first to break a story, and then national wires and sources pick up up afterward. The old system meant that the big sources got all the traffic and credit from Google even though they did not break the story. Not only is this unfair, but it also means that they could be outdated or inaccurate. The local source will be in the best position to make updates or changes to the story and provide in-depth context. Big outlets have a wide audience, but are less likely to have someone on the scene with a familiarity with the story. All of this means that local sources are often the best sources.
As far as SEO goes, this means that local news outlets need to make SEO a big part of their strategy. The reward for being well-optimized just jumped significantly. Google has essentially extended their local emphasis to news, and news sources will now need to invest in SEO just as small local businesses have done over the past year or so. There is a bigger question at stake here as well. Google is fighting to stay relevant as news source itself. Many users get their news from social media. Facebook presents trending stories of the day and journalists of all levels often break stories on Twitter.
If Google wants to be an important place that people will go for news, it will need to offer high-quality links and a reason to use them instead of social media. Local Source tagging is a way to do that. Because the feature is brand-new this summer, it isn’t yet clear if it will be enough to make Google News a major “source of sources.” That means that to hedge their bets, news outlets also need to hone their social media engagement and usage. This is already a powerful strategy that also synergizes with SEO work, but as with on-site optimization, its importance is growing by the month.