Local Search Trends and Strategies in 2024: Essential Insights for Marketers

 You know, local search has really come a long way. It’s not just about managing listings anymore – it’s about creating genuine experiences and connections with customers. Nowadays, people want interactions that feel tailor-made for them, no matter where they are in their journey.

And let’s talk about AI-powered search – it’s changing the game fast. Search engines are getting smarter at understanding what users really want. They’re all about serving up content that’s not just relevant but engaging too.

Whether you’re a big brand with multiple locations or a cozy local shop, the struggle is real: how do you make every interaction feel personal? And with cookies on their way out, that challenge just got a whole lot tougher.

So, when you’re thinking about how to level up your digital game, it’s all about bringing together those scattered bits of customer info into one powerhouse database.

In this article, we’re diving deep into the top priorities for businesses with a local focus in 2024, along with the key metrics you’ll want to keep an eye on to track your success. It’s all about staying ahead of the curve and giving your customers the experiences they crave.

Experiences matter more in local than managing listings.

The top five areas that 2024 location-based firms should concentrate on are shown below. 

Discovery

Ensuring visibility for brand and location-based queries is crucial. This involves:

  • Establishing a comprehensive listing on Google Business Profile (GBP) and other authoritative channels relevant to your industry.
  • Implementing a proper schema structure on your website to enhance search engine understanding.
  • Regularly publishing relevant, timely, and engaging content, such as local events, pricing details, menus, operating hours, and maps.
Key ingredients for successful discovery include:
  • Utilizing customer search data effectively to gain insights into their needs and preferences. This data can be leveraged to train diverse Large Language Models (LLMs), enabling better comprehension of searcher intent and behaviors. Google’s recent integration of AI in maps is a testament to this strategy, utilizing LLMs to interpret conversational queries and offer personalized recommendations based on users’ interests.
  • Creating topical and entity-rich content that fulfills the searcher’s requirements. It’s essential to continuously enhance existing content and align new product or solution releases with the evolving needs of your audience.
  • A robust technical SEO foundation is essential for ensuring the effective crawling and indexing of your content. Implement and maintain comprehensive schema markup to assist search engines and AI in better understanding your content.
To future-proof your website for the visually oriented SERPs of 2024, consider the following strategies:
  • Enhance your landing pages with diverse elements such as images, business hours, address, FAQs, videos, PDFs, and customer reviews.
  • Ensure a sufficient quantity of high-quality, authentic images to enhance search visibility and drive conversions.
  • Optimize images to meet Google’s safe search standards and align with user intent.
  • Avoid relying on stock photography to maintain authenticity and relevance.
To future-proof your digital assets for evolving search engine result pages (SERPs), take the following steps:
  • Centralize your image resources to ensure consistency across different channels.
  • Utilize Google Natural Language Processing (NLP) for image optimization.
  • Tag images with relevant schema markup and image tags to enhance their discoverability and relevance in search results.

Relevance and Authority

  • Google’s algorithm updates aim to ensure that brands offer helpful content with expert insights on products and services, providing genuine value to users. For brands, the focus isn’t just on creating more content; it’s about producing topical, entity-rich content that aligns with their channel and audience strategies.
  • A robust content strategy is key to establishing relevance. This involves identifying content gaps compared to competitors and meeting consumer expectations. Location pages should go beyond basic information like name, address, and hours of operation to provide comprehensive details that fulfill audience needs. For instance, a searcher seeking hospitals may require information on doctors, insurance options, specialties, and more.
  • Content should be localized and personalized based on audience segments such as age and past behavioral signals. Engaging audiences with location-specific content like posts and events is also crucial.
  • While AI tools can assist in content generation, human oversight by subject matter experts is essential to ensure quality. Hyperlocal content strategies, starting with basic location name insertions, may seem cost-effective, but they risk lower rankings due to duplicative content. Creating unique, optimized pages for each location is only beneficial if the content genuinely adds value to users.
  • Ultimately, an effective content strategy aims to connect with customers and engage them. While AI can enhance efficiency and scalability, humanizing content with the brand’s voice and perspective remains indispensable.

Experience

Providing a connected experience is essential for firms that rely on location. The difficulty lies in giving a brand-loyal customer seeking for a location-specific query high-quality information. Here are six essentials to think about when contemplating experience: 

Consistency in Information

In the realm of location-based businesses, offering a seamless experience is paramount. The challenge lies in delivering accurate information to loyal customers seeking location-specific queries. Here are six essential considerations for enhancing the experience:

  • Uniformity of Information: It’s crucial to ensure that all details related to your brand, especially location data, are consistently presented across various platforms, including content creation systems, distribution channels, and customer relationship management tools.
  • Centralized Data Source: For brands operating multiple locations, maintaining consistency can be achieved by establishing a single, authoritative data repository. This centralized source should serve as the primary reference for all platforms, such as the main website, directories, advertising campaigns, and public relations efforts, to ensure the accuracy of brand information.
  • Importance in AI-driven Search: With the increasing reliance on AI-powered search technologies, the need for consistent and high-quality data becomes even more pronounced to mitigate the risk of errors or discrepancies.

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Site Structure

Creating an optimal site architecture is crucial to ensure easy access to location-specific information. This data should be qualitative, relevant, engaging, and up-to-date, catering to both local and regional searches. 

Here’s an example of how multi-location businesses can craft personalized experiences:

Google typically assigns a limited crawl budget to each domain. Therefore, your site architecture should facilitate smooth information flow between the main brand page, countries, states, cities, and location pages to maximize crawl budget usage and improve search engine indexing.

Localized Experience

Ensure that your location pages are tailored to meet the specific needs of the local audience. Depending on your industry vertical, consider including content such as FAQs, videos, events, rate calculators, itineraries, menus, and more, presented in multiple languages. Additionally, incorporating related searches, product reviews, and bios of subject matter experts can demonstrate local expertise, relevance, and authority.

Location, Backlinks, Website, GBP, Video

In 2024, critical factors for local online performance include the physical location of the business, as relocating can significantly impact local search rankings. While backlinks are less influential for local pack rankings, they remain important for organic search results. Moreover, brand demand plays a key role, with searches and clicks on your brand directly improving rankings across various platforms. To optimize control:

  • Maintain a simple yet effective website.
  • Optimize your Google Business Profile with accurate categories and services.
  • Generate positive reviews and engage in regular Google Business Profile posts.
  • Incorporate video content into your profile.
Personalized Experience

Ideally, every visitor to your website should feel that the content is tailored specifically for them. By integrating various channels, such as organic and paid search, with travel intent and customer data platforms, you can deliver personalized experiences based on:

  • Location
  • Channels
  • Search intent and behavioral signals
  • Information from past interactions captured in CRM and third-party data

The goal is to customize the user experience to align with the audience’s intentions while meeting the business’s objectives. Providing a personalized user experience involves adjusting visuals, text, and calls to action to enhance engagement and increase conversion rates.

Here’s how personalized experiences can help increase engagement.

Technical SEO

Ensuring that search engines can discover and understand all the valuable content you’ve created is essential. The aim is to make sure that at least 95% of your site’s content is easily crawlable and indexable, without encountering issues like redirects, canonicals, multiple hops, or broken pages.

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However, merely having your content crawled and indexed isn’t sufficient. There are several technical SEO strategies to enhance the visibility of your content:

  • Page Experience: It’s crucial to ensure that all pages meet Core Web Vitals standards, including metrics like Interaction to Next Paint (INP). INP evaluates a page’s responsiveness to user interactions by analyzing the latency of click, tap, and keyboard interactions. Your site’s speed, mobile friendliness, and security should align with search guidelines and surpass your competitors.
  • Global and Local Configuration: For multi-location and multi-language sites, proper configuration is necessary to avoid any gaps or overlaps. If the same content is served in different countries or languages, hreflang canonical and alternate tags should be correctly configured.
  • Content Delivery at Scale: Utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) helps efficiently deliver your content and digital assets to users.
  • Schema Markup: Tagging all your content and visual assets with advanced, nested schemas helps search engines understand their context and showcase them in SERPs and rich results.
  • Domain vs. Subdomain: It’s advisable to have all location information configured under the main domain. However, in cases where updating regional information quickly is challenging, a subdomain strategy can be effective. Regardless of the approach chosen, it’s essential for brands to consolidate and centralize various data sources and channels to ensure consistency across touchpoints and channels.

Engagement

  • Customer engagement serves as a crucial indicator for search engines. Metrics such as time spent on the site assist search engines in evaluating whether the content fulfills the searcher’s requirements.
  • Emerging platforms like TikTok, favored by Gen Z, pose a challenge to Google’s dominance. Enhancing customer engagement necessitates a comprehensive approach across various channels.
  • Strategies like cultivating a community of influencers, proactive digital PR, incorporating interactive and educational videos, soliciting customer reviews, and implementing a robust social media strategy can augment brand engagement.

Conversion

  • Optimizing conversions represents the ultimate objective of all marketing endeavors. Here are four potent strategies to maximize local conversions:
  • Paid Marketing: To optimize conversions from local marketing initiatives, complement organic strategies with paid marketing endeavors. Given that AI influences both organic and paid search, enhancing your website content and structured data is crucial to enhancing quality scores.
  • Target Audience Segmentation and Personalization: Employ audience segmentation and targeted displays to reach well-defined audience personas. Coupled with on-site personalized experiences, these tactics can attract highly qualified visitors, engage them effectively, and boost conversions.
  • Co-Optimization: Ensure seamless collaboration between your paid and organic teams. Co-optimizing paid and organic marketing efforts enables you to target expensive yet high-converting paid audiences through organic marketing and optimize paid budgets for improved ROI.
  • Business Intelligence and Analytics: Given that performance data often remains siloed across channels and systems, effectively measuring the performance and efficacy of your marketing strategies poses a challenge. To mitigate data discrepancies, it is imperative to consolidate all data into a central source of truth. All performance reports and dashboards across channels should be derived from this central data source.

Conclusion

Local SEO has evolved significantly, highlighting the need for authentic customer connections. With AI-powered search, personalized experiences are crucial for businesses, big or small. Looking forward to 2024, businesses must focus on key areas like optimizing discovery, ensuring consistent information, and enhancing engagement. Technical SEO practices and customer engagement strategies are vital for success. Ultimately, success in local SEO requires staying ahead of trends and delivering personalized experiences to resonate with customers, positioning businesses for success in the digital landscape.

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