When you are dealing with the tech industry, it is always hard to predict the future. You never know when an iPhone moment may come and upset all the standards which were just yesterday considered the norm. There are several areas, however, where a careful eye might discern patterns emerging from the latest updates and results – the SEO industry within the larger techscape. Google has remained the king of search engines since it’s dominance began almost a decade ago. With the rapid filling of coffers has come a tendency to evolve faster than the other players in the market (although Yahoo and Microsoft do have overly absurd amounts of money, their responses to emerging search trends are relatively subdued when considered with Google’s concentrated effort to personalize online search for a user. In recent history Google has updated its search algorithm which has shown a tendency to favor local businesses more, the data is presented based on a user’s location (only for those users who have approved location access in their browsers). The update is called Pigeon, the previous update incidentally inclined towards quality of your marketing content. This shift is quite understandable as it furthers Google’s ultimate goal, which is perhaps to search for items you haven’t even thought of yet. Anyhow, let’s have a look at some of the features which we believe can define our search results in near future. #1. Local Businesses will be prioritized We believe that the new algorithm which emphasizes local search and business listings will be around for a while and will expand further in coming days to encompass more of the local landscape than ever before. The changes are already apparent in the new update which has upgraded local 7-pack to 3-pack of search results. Another pointer here is how we are seeing an increased role of Google Plus (Yeah!), where My Business listings are heavily involved in search results these days i.e. if you have a verified store front. Another reason for this move and expansion to the local scene is the rapid, and here we mean exponential, growth of the smartphone and tablets market. The numbers they are chugging are just mind boggling, a large chunk of human population is moving online every year, and what do they do once online? They search. Google’s business has benefitted greatly from the sales of Android and iOS devices. If you are a keen observer of how the search results have been displayed on your mobile, you may have noticed an important change which started appearing in searches during the latter half of 2015. Search results now appear with a small quote which tells you about the websites which have been optimized for mobiles. This is a part of Google’s strategy to shift focus on the customer base which is responsible for a large number of incoming searches, and most searches are done for finding out local listings. Hence, as user preference for local search increases, it is safe to bet on local SEO optimized websites in coming days. #2. Use of personalized smart devices Smart devices are getting smarter by the day. It all began with voice input methods and has now evolved so much that it is like having a digital version of your psyche in your pocket (yeah, it sounds over the top, but a few more decades and we’ll be there). Google Now, Apple “Siri” and Microsoft “Cortana” projects have visibly matured in the last few year. These applications or more accurately, digital personal assistants, are able to gather your behavioral information on the basis of places you visit, searches you make and the things you post online. This evolution of the simple use of smart devices has made pushing local searches to users easier. For example, if you regularly visit a restaurant in your locality and your digital assistant is privy to that information, it may suggest a few other establishments in the vicinity based on online reviews. And prompted on by that natural curiosity of human minds, you may one day decide to have a look. “Near me” searches and results are going to gain more traction as our smart devices evolve to the next level of adaptive intelligence. #3. Social Media in SERPs Social media has started to play a more important role in online search results. The reasons are quite clear-cut, a humongous number of people are on social media platforms with more joining in each day. To attract these persons with personalized search has been a trend for a while now. But as searches have gotten more personalized, you may have observed that more and more Ads now appear with your city’s or locality’s name in the fold. Although, this is not a refined process as of now and we see many bogus posts appearing on the sidelines of our social media content but going forward this space will become a major marketing ploy for local businessmen. As the online communities expand and form smaller local sub-communities, tapping into local SEO and social media is key to getting your local business strategy right. #4. Specialized and brand keywords are on the rise It is official now, general keywords are making for special and brand specific keywords. This has come to pass because of the above-mentioned reasons – the evolution of local business related search queries and mobile platforms becoming smarter, which in turn has made longer keyword searches possible by the way of entering longer queries via voice search. Also, the keyword space had become overcrowded and was misused (read keyword stuffing) to a certain extent leading to nonsensical search results in many cases. As the search giants have become smarter, their algorithms now eliminate results which are or seem bogus. #5. Emphasis on quality of content As we mentioned in the previous point, the searches and search results have both gotten smarter with time. It is not that much about keyword density anymore but more about having great websites with genuine brand sponsorship and quality content. Therefore, it is perhaps the best time to sell your brand online and gain long-term traction by using quality content and SEO for your brand websites. Concluding thoughts Wrapping up, we can safely assert that local SEO is the way forward for small to medium businesses. It is time to jump the SEO bandwagon for your business and switch to a more location and brand friendly approach. Sure there is always a level of uncertainty with every new update released by the search giants, but what we have seen with the recent updates, it doesn’t look likely that they are going to turn the horse around and take an entirely different road anytime soon. Small businesses have the great opportunity to expand beyond their normal spheres by using online branding, and there are multiple ways it can be done – either through portals, websites, forums or other forms of eCommerce marketing. Just do not forget the SEO part, it is what can help you for getting organic traction initially before you consider the paid marketing solutions. Images: ”Local SEO Strategies For Small Business / Shutterstock.com“ ____________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. 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