Although there are multiple search engines available, Google is the indisputable leader, and it has nearly all of the market share. There’s no way around it – when you are developing your digital marketing strategy, you need to be sure that your online marketing channels are optimized for Google’s algorithms (basically, the way Google indexes websites). However, Google changes how it not only indexes but also displays search results on a regular basis. You need to work with vendors who are on top of these updates and can ensure that your websites and advertising listings continue to provide you with the best results.
As of summer 2017, Google has its eye on two major updates to its algorithms: mobile-first indexing, which may arrive as early as the beginning of 2018, and local-first sorting, which is here now.
Here’s a brief overview of what you need to know about each of these initiatives:
According to Google, most users are searching now on mobile devices. “However,” the company continues on its webmaster blog, “our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.”
First, Google suggests ensuring that any information you have on your community’s desktop site matches the information on your mobile site. If you have a responsive site – one that is built to show any user on any device the same information – you are ahead of the game. If you have separate sites for mobile and desktop, you may want to work with your web development team or webmaster to make sure that your mobile site can be indexed properly.
Second, you want to ensure that any other marketing channels you’re using are also mobile optimized. Ideally, the sites on which you are advertising will deliver prospects an appealing mobile-first experience that includes a visual search interface.
According to Chatmeter, “local searches are now 46% of all searches on Google, and that number will only continue to rise.” In response, Google now factors location into the search results that it displays for an individual user. The search engine has taken this one step further by filtering out lower reviewed businesses when a searcher uses local terms and the word “best.”
It’s critical that all of the contact information on any listings and your community’s website is updated and current so that those pages will show up in a local search. Claim all of your online business listings and update them as well to boost your online rankings.
It’s also more important than ever to stay on top of your online reputation because lower-ranked communities may be filtered out by Google from the search results. Keep a steady flow of positive reviews by proactively surveying residents, and respond to all reviews – positive and negative – promptly and professionally. You may want to consider engaging a third-party service to manage your online ratings and reviews if your onsite staff is already busy handling other day-to-day tasks.
You don’t need to understand all of the intricate technical details about Google’s ever-changing algorithms, but you do need to remain aware of them and to check in periodically with your service providers. When you ask questions about optimization or search results, make sure that you get a satisfactory answer.