The reduction of local search real estate represents a huge challenge to marketers, who must work even harder to ensure their clients’ listings can compete in a shrinking field. It also suggests that a strategy combining organic and paid efforts is becoming ever more important.
So far, digital services, even those focused on local, have done more to atomize local communities than unite them, training us to rely on anonymous resources for the information and recommendations we used to get from our friends and neighbors.
Are bots the future of the internet? Maybe, maybe not; like the buzz around Google Glass in 2013, we’re in the midst of a moment when it’s hard to tell the difference between hype and technological breakthrough.
According to the funnel metaphor, customers travel in stages from awareness to purchase, the funnel getting narrower at each stage as some customers drop off and do not move to the next stage.
Google has significantly updated its help page on the topic of local ranking to include, for the first time, specific common-sense guidelines showing businesses how they can increase the likelihood that online searchers will find them in Google Maps on desktop and mobile.
As mobile searches outpace desktop-based searches, proximity throws a wrench in the works of traditional rankings.
The move is a good thing for business owners but even more so for Google itself, which in providing a better means to gather data from business owners will improve the freshness and accuracy of its data.
In an atmosphere where fake reviews are all too easy to create, we need tools that help distinguish real opinions from garbage. Moving beyond the limitations of data algorithms, fact-based approaches hold out the promise of grounding review services in observable truth.
The company isn’t trying to build a unified local search portal at all. Instead, they’re launching trial balloons, turning developers loose to experiment with the company’s local data in order to surface features and nuances that might eventually be useful as subtle additions to the Newsfeed…
If SEO is about websites and marketing is about brand awareness, location management is about brick-and-mortar businesses and removing friction along the customer journey from online search to offline purchase. Ignore it at your peril.