As the dust settles on 2022, with party streamers still floating in the breeze, we wanted to look ahead at 2023, to see what this year could hold for local SEOs.
We gathered some of the industry’s top experts, to share their predictions for the year ahead. So shake off that January gloom, and see what they’ve got to say about the next 12 months in Local SEO.
Changes to Google Business Profile
I expect to see changes in how Google Business Profiles (GBPs) are managed as well as how they show up in search results. I wouldn’t be surprised if mobile local SERPs go through some drastic changes. Always check your mobile, local peeps!
We are noticing a decrease in GBP phone calls and an increase in calls from Local Services Ads. I predict Google will continue to make changes with the interface in the first quarter and local search will become a different beast.
I think in 2023 we’re going to continue to see an evolution for GBP. More emphasis on location-specific photos and videos versus generic stock photos, more emphasis on highlighting reviews and customer experiences, and more specific categories being added. I also think that there will be more ways for users to provide feedback about businesses. Additionally, with the recent update regarding E-E-A-T, I think that really opens the door for local businesses and content creation, especially when it comes to demonstrating first-hand experience in niche areas.
Everyone will continue to call it “Google My Business” and “GMB” for at least another year…
I’ll continue to keep an eye on Google’s visual search and multisearch “near me” functionality, in terms of understanding the opportunities they present to the local businesses that I work with. That said, I’ll also be thinking about making sure that my clients aren’t keeping all of their eggs in Google’s basket: understanding the opportunity provided by Apple Maps and any other sources for leads is top of my 2023 list.
Video in Local
We’re seeing video become more and more important in the organic SERPs. With Google adding the ability to add videos to reviews now (along with photos) and videos auto-playing in the Google Maps app, I think businesses are going to start paying a lot more close attention to video assets next year.
So I think next year will bring the normalization of video and images in local. Additionally, I think we may still see more ways for merchants to make more out of GBP.
Now that the name change and in-Search experience is all complete, it’s time to build features and fix broken ones. The impact images had this year was pretty impressive and I think we may see the same impact from video.
Authenticity and Quality
I think 2023 will bring demand for authenticity. We’ve seen a number of trends such as spam on the map, fake reviews, and content written for algorithms (not people), get a decent amount of attention over the last few years in order to help consumers build trust with brands.
While search engines and sites are attempting to make strides here, I don’t think the impact will be strong enough to move the needle for consumers. This is why we see pushes towards areas and apps that create more authentic experiences like photos, videos, and events.
It felt like Google spent a lot of time focusing on quality content and legitimate businesses this past year. I feel like quality localized content that tells a searcher who you are, where you’re located, and what you do, is going to continue to make a difference when ranking in local search results.
Make sure you’re providing customers with accurate, helpful information about your business in all areas; your Google Business Profile, your website, and any other important citation sites for your industry will continue to be key in performing well on search.
I say this every year and occasionally I get it right: Google will continue to roll out features specific to service-area businesses. Home services continue to be a high-growth industry. According to technavio, the home services market is expected to increase to USD 5.14 trillion between 2021 and 2026. With that growth, it would make a lot of sense for Google to give the home services industry some attention. For instance, Google recently launched the ability to add predefined service areas. The big question is whether or not the service areas will start to impact ranking in 2023.
What about AI?
The coming year will be an exciting time for SEO. With generative search from tools like ChatGPT and Google SERPs rich with multi-media, SEO is extremely dynamic. As a result, investing in the core of your digital presence is particularly important, as well as informing your Knowledge Panel, your GBP, which is now used as a data source for some Google’s most important new features. Those who invest in utilizing all aspects of GBP should see solid results.
As more SEOs adopt AI for content generation, I think we’ll see a renewed interest in website content for local businesses. Small businesses are typically running SEO on shoestring budgets, so a tool that enables them to create content faster (and cheaper) for their local clients could generate more interest in things like long-form content and blogging for SMBs. Depending on how good that content is, the result could be a more competitive landscape for editorial search results small businesses are targeting.
On the Subject of AI…
With all this talk about AI, we thought we’d see what the bots have to say about themselves. So, without further ado, it’s time to introduce Randall Bott, Vice President of Automation at Advanced Internet.
We generated Randall’s photo using Midjourney and then, using ChatGPT, told it to ‘imagine it was a local SEO expert working for a marketing agency’ and answer the same questions we put to the experts.
As an AI language model, I am not able to make predictions about future trends in local search or any other topic. However, I can provide some information about local search and suggest some potential developments that may occur in the coming years.
One trend that has been increasingly important in local search is the use of online reviews and ratings. These reviews and ratings can help businesses attract new customers and improve their online reputation, and they are often used by search engines as a ranking factor in local search results. It is likely that this trend will continue in the coming years, and businesses may need to focus more on actively soliciting and managing online reviews in order to improve their local search visibility.
Another trend that may continue to grow in importance is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in local search. This technology can be used to improve the accuracy and relevance of local search results, and it may be incorporated more widely into local search algorithms in the future.
Finally, it is possible that the use of voice assistants and other voice-based search technologies will continue to rise in popularity, leading to an increased focus on optimizing for voice search in local SEO efforts.
Again, these are just a few potential trends that may occur in the field of local search in the coming years, and they are not meant to be definitive predictions.
Way to stand by your predictions, Randall!
You’ll be hearing from Randall again in some of our upcoming features, as we want to see what he thinks about everything local SEO across 2023.
Time to See What 2023 Has to Offer
Could some of these predictions hold true? We’ll try and remember to circle back at the end of the year to see!
Overall it feels like there’s a real buzz around potential changes to Google Business Profile, an increase in video and visual search, and while no-one seems quite sure what AI is going to bring to the table, we’re all equally excited and nervous about it.
Overall, 2023 could shape up to be an exciting year for local SEO, with new technologies and trends emerging that will have a major impact on the industry.
Stay tuned for more updates and insights as we continue to monitor these developments in the coming months.