A Look Back at 2019
How Has Local Search & Chatmeter’s Platform Changed Over The Past Year?
2019, has been a big year for local search. In the past year, both the local search market and Chatmeter have transformed a lot. To address the changing local search landscape, Chatmeter added 5 new or updated products and hundreds of feature enhancements to the dashboard. Here’s a look at some of the biggest changes throughout 2019.
Local Ranking Factors
Before we jump into 2019, we need to start with the end of last year. In December 2018, Whitespark released its annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey. In that survey, respondents identified what they believe are the top 8 local search ranking factors.
The largest growth in ranking factors was found in Google My Business (GMB) signals and Review signals. Throughout 2019, we saw both of these factors continue to grow in importance.
In early January, we introduced Local Pages to our arsenal of local search products. Our Local Pages are designed to help enterprise brands build landing pages for each of their locations rapidly. With Chatmeter, it only takes a few weeks to get your Local Pages live, all while keeping the design consistent with your current website.
Local Pages are the key to helping your brand rank higher in local, web, and voice search results. Not to mention, they help to provide your customers with the seamless local search experience they expect. With tools like automatic geolocation, advanced filtering, and advanced search functions, customers will be able to find your locations easier than ever before.
Social Media Users Plateau
In February 2019, Pew Research released a study that showed a slow down in social media user growth across many of the largest social media networks. Due to the slow growth and the decline in social ranking signals from 2017 to 2018, we’re suggesting brands re-evaluate their social strategy for 2020. Here are five ways brands can revamp their social strategy:
- Forget Accounts That Don’t Hit Your Target Audience
- Focus on Visual Content
- Explore Influencer Marketing
- Reach More People With Google Posts
- Create Local Social Accounts
During the month of February, we introduced our Instant Audit tool to the world. Instant Audit is designed to help small to enterprise brands get quick information on the status of their local online visibility for up to five locations. This tool looks at a brand’s online presence and accuracy, local rankings, and quality of reviews and gives the brand a score.
Want to give Instant Audit a try? Click the button below:
Instagram Expands Local Business Profile Pages
In March, Instagram expanded its local business features by introducing geo-location profile pages tied to the location of the business. Unlike a traditional Instagram Business Profile, these pages are created from geo-tagged posts. Businesses can claim these pages by connecting them to their Facebook page. Instagram now has several features that help connect users to their local store, which is why multi-location businesses should create store Instagram pages.
Source: Search Engine Journal
Google Core Algorithm Update
Last year, one of Google’s Core Algorithm updates focused on shifting direct answers of search queries towards an emphasis on unique customer search journeys. Essentially, this update focused on providing unique search results for users based on their past search history or bookmarks. The March 2019 Algorithm Core Update reinforced this previous update by providing even more personalized search results. This broad update isn’t anything that SEOs need to adjust for, brands should just continue creating great content if they want to rank well.
Google My Business Short Names
Have you claimed your Google Short Name yet? A Google My Business Short Name is a unique URL that helps consumers find your GMB Profile. Google My Business Short Names look like this: “g.page/[yourcustomname]”. The release of Google Short Names earlier this year has yet to show an impact on rankings or traffic volume but we still recommend claiming yours before another business does.
Last year, Chatmeter released our enterprise task management tool, Workflow. Built with multi-location brands in mind, Workflow is designed to help Chatmeter users with local SEO tasks like responding to reviews, updating business listing information, and much more. Over the past year, we’ve been adding on multiple enhancements to the tool based on customer feedback. Some of these new enhancements include more rule creation options, in-task review responding, sharing settings, and more alert options.
Google My Business Fights Fake Business Listings
Google has over 150 million business listings, unfortunately, about 7.3% of those listings are fake. Although Google has been working to take down millions of fake listings, the problem has persisted. In June, Google released an update helping consumers to identify real listings from fakes. This update introduced several new features designed to reward active businesses on GMB. Here’s a look at the features GMB introduced this year:
- Logo Features
- Cover Photos
- Photo Displays
- Welcome Offers
- Search by Short Name
- Offline Marketing Materials
Yelp Personalized Search
Yelp introduced its users to personalized recommendations this year. Unlike Google’s personalization features, Yelp users can now set preferences in order to receive more personalized search recommendations. Preferences can be set for the following areas:
- Dietary Preferences
- Food & Drink
Businesses who want to make sure they’re a recommended brand should complete their Yelp Business Profiles completely so that Yelp can match them to the right customers.
Chatmeter’s Social Suite
In August, Chatmeter released a new and improved version of our Social Suite, including the introduction of Google Q&A. Chatmeter’s Social Suite is designed to help multi-location brands listen, respond, and publish on multiple social sites at once. The redesign of our Social Suite now gives users better insight into their social presence at scale.
Our biggest redesign of the year by far was our sentiment and text analytics tool, Pulse. To improve the reliability of Pulse, we put our data science team to work by building our own Natural Language Processing model in-house. We spent months training the tool from our billions of collected reviews and as a result, our NLP model was able to process customer feedback at an accuracy score of 88% (better than Stanford, Amazon, and Google models). In addition to the industry-leading NLP model, we also added interactive tools and charts to give users better insight into the customer sentiment at every location.
Google Stops Displaying Rich Results for Local Businesses
For the businesses or organizations displaying reviews about the brand on their website, Google has stopped featuring the ratings and reviews in search results. This update only affects the displaying of reviews about local businesses and organizations not reviews for things like products or recipes among many other categories. Although reviews and ratings will no longer show up in the search results for businesses, they should still be displayed on a brand’s website as Google will not penalize brands who display reviews and displaying reviews has shown to increase conversion rates.
With the release of so many new products and features to our dashboard, our newest feature, Analytics Studio is a must-have for multi-location brands. Analytics Studio allows users to build custom reports using the data collected in Chatmeter’s LocationHQ. Analytics Studio is a business’ centralized repository for honest, unfiltered, and actionable insight direct from their customers.
Google BERT Update
In October of this year, Google released an update to its core search algorithm focused on its Natural Language Processing technology. Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations From Transformers, or BERT, is having one of the biggest impacts on search rankings in the past five years. This update is aimed at understanding the words in relation to the other words in a search query. This helps Google provide better results for specific search queries.
Google Possum 2.0 Update
The Google Possum 2.0 Update is all about increasing the importance of proximity when it comes to local search. The Possum 2.0 update is still relatively new, but it is aimed at helping connect users with the local businesses they are closest to.
Google Neural Matching Local Search Update
Earlier this week, Google announced the use of neural matching as part of it’s local search algorithm. This is aimed at helping users find businesses closely related to the unbranded keyword they use – even if it’s not in the description of the business. For example, a search for ice cream may produce results for a nearby business with gelato. Because this update is so new, it may take some time before we see the update take effect.
In early November, we began making use of neural matching as part of the process of generating local search results. Neural matching allows us to better understand how words are related to concepts, as explained more here: https://t.co/ShQm7g9CvN
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 2, 2019
Having trouble keeping up with the changing local search landscape? Schedule a time to speak with one of our local search experts and see how Chatmeter can help your brand keep up with ongoing updates.