Many people feel that local businesses are easier to trust. That preference can influence the choices consumers make when choosing stores online. That's why Google is on a mission to make the internet more relevant to where you are.
The Pigeon Update
The update that changed the game for local search was named the Pigeon Update. It rolled out in July 2014, although it's been revised many times since then.
Moz, a leading authority on SEO, described the update this way:
Google shook the local SEO world with an update that dramatically altered some local results.
But how did the Pigeon Update actually affect your local search results? In the following ways:
1. Search Radius
The term "local" became more specific. Instead of focusing on the keyword of your city, you'll need to rank for your neighborhood.
Look yourself up. Whichever area you "come under" on Google Maps, double down that keyword.
2. Top-Ranked Directories
Better-known directories get a lot more weight, such as Yelp, Business Magnet and TripAdvisor. If you're listed in spammy sites, however, it may hurt you.
3. Maps vs. Web
The results of a map search and the results of a standard web search used to have little in common. Not anymore. Pigeon brought the local and the core algorithms closer together.
How to Future-Proof Your Local SEO Rankings
In order to make sure your local search result rankings remain high, take the following steps:
1. Fill Your Google My Business Page
Visit Google My Business and sign up your business. Add your address, open hours and phone number, and upload any images that could help you stand out.
2. Get Good Local Reviews
Happy customers rarely leave reviews unless you ask them to. Even if they do, they are likely to go on Yelp. If you can encourage a few to leave a happy five stars on your Google My Business page, all the better.
3. Fill Your Site With Schema
Schema.org is a Google-sponsored initiative to make the web easier for algorithms to understand.
When you see a five-star rating show up underneath a search result, for example, it's because the webmaster used Schema to mark the review on that page with the review tag.
4. NAPs, Lots of NAPs
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. You need to consider this information an unchangeable clump. Keep your NAP consistent across the entire internet, and Google will trust you more.
Prepare Yourself for a Local Internet
Get queued up on local SEO and start implementing it as soon as you can. It's only going to get more competitive, and the brands that were there first will have the upper hand.