Here at The Web Guys, we’re looking forward to the roaring 2020s with great anticipation, and we’ve taken the time to compile a few predictions related to local searches and their increasing importance. The online world is always on the move, and we’re expecting big things related to local searches this year. Here are some of our most important predictions for what 2020 will bring.

A New and Improved Google+

Some experts predict that one of Google’s latest and greatest will be a reboot of the now-defunct Google+ but not forgotten Google+ (Google’s answer to social networks). This latest offering will likely include a new community that’s based on Local Guides and local reviews. Local is incredibly important for smaller businesses, and this addition could offer a dynamic boost.

User-Generated Content Is King

It’s not much of a stretch, but the experts agree that user-generated content (UGC) will continue to become more and more important. In fact, Google is expected to rely even more specifically on UGC. If your UGC game isn’t strong, it’s time to get cracking. It’s all about active listening, and when you can substantively respond in real-time to actual questions from potential customers, you elevate your local visibility and your online rankings to the next level. When your potential customers are looking for what you have to offer, they want to know what people are saying and how you respond, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

Spam Alert

While we’d all like to tone down the spam out there, it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. While some experts are more hopeful than others, the general consensus seems to be that Google needs to get a handle on the Google My Business spam issue, but that – so far – they see no sign of it happening. The bad actors who generate fake accounts and fake reviews always seem to be a step ahead of the digital goliath.

Get Paid

Most experts agree that Google is moving toward monetizing more and more of its offerings, including GMB, which will likely make relying on organic visibility more difficult. Google has launched an aggressive testing campaign related to the placement of local ads. You can also expect to see more and more first page results that are entirely paid for. In other words, you’ll probably be paying more to create and keep great online placement. In fact, some observers predict that the first page of the SERPs will soon be dominated by paid ads, pushing organic results further down the list.

Alternatives to Traditional Search

If voice search still seems like science fiction to you, it’s time to go all in. Voice search – and other technologies that are similar – are here to stay, and the incredible ease these options offer consumers is expected to make them even more essential in 2020. This is true even for local businesses, and it’s something you should be paying attention to. These searches are known as real-world signals – what people are actually doing – and Google is beginning to weigh the information garnered more heavily.

Google My Business Is Keeping On

Word on the street is that GMB will continue rolling out new functionalities. This means that it’s important to get a handle on what you’ve already got going on in GMB while you stay tuned to unveilings as they happen. More than ever, you need to use GMB as a direct line of communication with your customers and potential customers. Your GMB is an important element of your CMS, and it should augment your website.

Branding and UX

When those customers and potential customers see your brand in their SERP, you want it to look good because – now more than ever – appearances matter. Now is the time to take control of what your customers-to-be see when they land on you and make sure that it does your business proud.

Focus on High-Quality Links

Links that just lie there are so over. In 2020, it’s time to focus your link building on topical, timely, and relevant subjects for your locality. Again, content is always king, and your links should reflect this. Think about the kind of information you’re looking for when you search online and let that be your guide.

Zero Clicks?

Zero-click searches refer to your potential customers finding exactly what they need with their Google search results, including:

  • Your address
  • Your hours of business
  • Driving instructions to your location
  • Customer Reviews
This can lead to fewer people in the local market clicking all the way through to your website, and it makes your Google search presence that much more important.

Mark It Up

Schema markup is a kind of microdata that allows search results to render enhanced descriptions to potential customers. In 2020, schema markup is coming in hot. Schema markup is an excellent tool for making your online offerings stand out, and this can be especially important for local searches.

Looking to the Major Players

These predictions wouldn’t be complete without taking a peek at Google’s overall focus for the year ahead, and that includes a bump in GMB and other means of making the SERPs more localized in general. As usual, also expect significant changes to Google’s core algorithm and be prepared to pivot your digital marketing strategies to address new developments in how websites are ranked in the SERPs.

It’s 2020, and We’re Here for It

It’s 2020, and local searches are more important than ever. The best way to earn and protect your fair market share is by giving your local-search efforts the tender loving care they deserve. The dedicated digital marketing experts at The Web Guys have their fingers on the pulse of what works on the web, and we’re committed to helping you maximize your local searches across the board. These searches bring business to the door, and they matter. Our digital marketing team takes a creative, focused approach to help you find your best online-path forward. To learn more, connect with us or give us a call at 317-805-4933 today.