Local search marketing has created new ways to connect your business to audiences throughout the research and buying journey. Moz has paved the way for search engine optimization (SEO) technology and local search management since 2004. Their recently published State of Local SEO Industry Report 2019 represents survey responses from over 1,400 local marketers to capture the current state of SEO investments, local and organic rankings, and Google’s growing influence.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps  

This year’s State of the Industry Report includes valuable insights from your marketing peers to help you budget and plan campaigns for 2019. Moz identified a number of key takeaways and next steps for you to take. The following gives you a brief overview of the overall report.

Local Rankings: Nearby Results Aren’t Always the Best Results

From Google’s growing influence to value of SERP rankings, there is greater competition and pressure for local rankings to drive business results. Your proximity to a searcher is the top local ranking factor, but 22 percent of marketers find local rankings too complex to list as a dominant factor. The fact of the matter is – regardless of how necessary proximity is to rankings – nearby results aren’t always the best results.

According to Moz, the vast majority of marketers agree that Google’s dependence on proximity frequently or sometimes harms results quality. A business could be two blocks farther away, with five-star reviews, but will appear below the closer, three-star business. The ball is in Google’s court to correct this unnecessary overemphasis on close proximity to improve the searcher’s experience.

Investing in SEO Pays Off

The Moz report breaks down trends, marketing feedback, and the biggest challenges shaping SEO strategy and tactics. The value of SEO is certain: 76 percent of enterprise businesses with 1000+ employees have at least two full-time staffers devoted to it. However, 17 percent have none. Devoting resources helps businesses adapt to necessary platform and search engine changes. Google updated its search algorithm on August 1, and the more resources a company devoted to SEO, the more positively they accepted the changes.

The majority of marketers and their clients value the destination (conversion and revenue) over the journey (traffic and rankings), as they should. However, there is still confusion over how to meet their goals. No single strategy is a top priority for more than 20 percent of marketers. Even though local search is paramount, 35 percent of marketers have no local link building strategy in place. Link building should never be overlooked, because the overall authority of a domain is related to its ability to rank in local search. Marketers with link building experience the best ROI through content development and direct asks.

Google is Your New Home Page

Google is becoming more powerful and controls much of the search experience. The overall Google presence features more information and even enables transactional activity, so there is less of a need for searchers to click on a website’s link. This isn’t just a Google-based statistic: 64 percent of marketers agree that Google is becoming the new homepage for local businesses.

This puts even greater need for local businesses to prioritize their Google platform, including Knowledge Panel features like business information, reviews, posts, photos, Q&A, and more. However important these features are, there is a significant gap in marketers understanding how it works and what it provides. Half of marketers agree that the Knowledge Panel impacts local rankings, while the other half aren’t taking advantage of this value-add opportunity to increase exposure. One in five marketers responded that they still don’t understand how the Knowledge Panel works.

The Link Between Organic and Local Ranking

Even though Google is your new home page, and there is reduced organic traffic, that doesn’t mean you don’t still need a website.  The fact is, brands with high SERP visibility have high placement, too. Your local rank is still supported by, and dependent on, your website’s own organic authority.

How Reviews Impact Local Rankings

Your reviews show up directly within your SERP entry. If searchers are treating Google as your homepage, and not clicking on your website link at all, you need to make sure you are managing your review sites. 91 percent of marketers agree that Google’s reviews impact local pack rankings. Reviews are not just a star-rating or the overall post. Google uses a variety of review aspects to rank your page, including ratings, positive and negative keywords, and recency.

Adaptive Marketing Platforms are Key to Staying Competitive and Relevant

Digital advancement has enabled us to reach new groups of consumers. But, we need to remember to think beyond just search and local rankings. The most adaptable and successful marketers focus on more than just search. It’s important to incorporate email marketing, word-of-mouth campaigns, and real-world community building as well. What does “real-world community building” look like? Think of offline strategies, including structural, in-store business policies, service quality, or campaigns.

If you are looking for a front-end marketing partner to help you incorporate Moz’s SEO research and feedback into your 2019 plans and campaigns, contact G5 to schedule a strategy session.