Local search is becoming more and more difficult these days. Google has invested a lot of time and effort into making local search a good and useful product for consumers. At the same time, it has made the process of optimizing for local search harder than ever. There are a few reasons for this, but most of them tie directly back to recent changes Google has made to their algorithms. At this point, it is more cost-effective to hire an external firm to handle your local search marketing. If you try to do it in-house, you will need to spend so much time learning it that it will detract from your other work.
Here is one example. Local searches used to present the searcher with a list of 7 local businesses that matched the keyword. These seven got a special pane and had supplemental information on their portion of that panel, which was called the snack pack. However, in the second half of 2015 Google cut the snack pack from 7 results down to 3. Now those top spots are fewer in number, and therefore you need more skill and a higher investment in order to get one of them.
This matters even more for people doing mobile search. Mobile users have much less screen real estate. When it comes to local search, in fact, they only have enough room on the screen for those top 3 results. In other words, those three become the whole top page. Any mobile user who wants to see more results has to tap to the next page. This all just makes it even more likely that any searcher will pick a link from the small snack pack. These high stakes mean that if you want to maintain your traffic, you need the help of an SEO company to stay in the top three.
There is more: the effect of local listings sites. Local listings are sites like bulletin boards, the Chamber of Commerce, and so on that contain lists and descriptions of all the businesses in a local area. Getting onto one of these sites is extremely important and rewarding. The more you appear in local listings, the higher you will rank on Google searches for that area. This is because Google trusts these listings a lot. If your business appears with the same name, address, and phone number in many listings, Google can be very sure about those details being truthful. But it is critical that the format, syntax, and spelling be exactly the same. This is what lets you build up what Google calls site authority.
Higher authority means more trust and higher rankings. But just knowing the outlines of this idea does not show you how hard it is to implement. There are many software tools that can help you set up a standard NAP and then send it out to all the important local listings. The software can get the job done much faster than you would if you were trying to do it by hand. Of course, to operating the software you need an SEO firm that specializes in local search. This is still not an easy task, and the experience that these companies have prepares them for getting it done on time and under budget.
Like many other things in society, local SEO is becoming so difficult and complicated that you need the help of adults to perform it correctly. Don’t hesitate to get one involved if necessary, because you don’t want to spend any time out of the three pack if you can avoid it.