After a year of major shifts, changes and general upheaval in the world of local search, 2013 is sure to bring more excitement and opportunity for businesses both small and large. 2012 was a year of unprecedented change and development when it came to local search. Widespread adoption and use of smartphones and tablets altered the way people search for local businesses, and the introduction of Google+ Local, Apple Maps, the Google Maps search application for iOS, the release of countless new mobile devices and tablets programmed with countless different local search mechanisms, and a drastic shift in Google’s search results towards local intent, it was a year for businesses to scramble to catch up.
Boiling the momentous changes that happened in the local search world in 2012 is hardly worth it now; it’s time to look forward to 2013 and be prepared for the new trends to come. Without further ado, here are the important trends we anticipate this year.
Google+ Local Gaining Even More Importance
More than half of smartphones used in the US are Android devices, and more than one third are Apple iPhones. Now that users of the iPhone with iOS 6 can download the Google Maps application, and since that application was downloaded more than ten million times the first day it was released in December, that makes a vast majority of smartphone maps and local searches happening every day powered by Google. The move from Google Places to Google+ Local in 2012 can be seen as a harbinger of things to come, meaning that businesses small and large must be prepared to optimize their profiles and rapidly adjust to changes as they come (and they will) this year.
Apple Maps and Yelp Increase the Focus on Reviews
While it is true that Google Maps will be the key driver of mobile-local searches in 2013, Apple’s mapping system is sure to be highly utilized, and we are sure to see many enhancements of the widely criticized map platform this year. One thing that most people agree was a smart move by Apple, was to seamlessly incorporate Yelp reviews on maps listings. We are sure to see an increased focus on incorporating online reviews, tips and check-ins on local listing results. Businesses must place an even higher importance on tracking reviews and understanding their implications on local search in the New Year.
Less Focus on Rankings – More Focus on Traffic
Local search results are extremely fluid. Whether a person is searching from a desktop, tablet or smartphone, their exact location (no longer a general city or even neighborhood) plays a role in the local businesses that are provided in the results. This means that tracking rankings for local search phrases from a single geographic location is not an effective way of showing progress. Instead of focusing on keyword rankings, local search marketers must turn to traffic reports to know that local search efforts are paying off. Monitoring mobile traffic, location page visits, and visits from specific referrers such as Google Plus, Google Maps, Yelp, and Bing Local will provide a better picture of results in 2013 than keyword reports did in 2012.
Go Directly to the Source
Large data aggregators such as Localeze must be leveraged for accurate business data proliferation across the Internet. Our partnership with Localeze will allow us to directly control the business listing data across over 140 major directories and maps providers. In 2013 savvy businesses will ensure that their key business data – their business name, address and phone number – is accurate and manageable through a key data aggregator.