Seo advertising

Local SEO Trends, Tips & New Technologies: Q&A with Joy Hawkins

We’ve just come out of a year in which the lingering pandemic has resulted in budget cuts, strategy issues, and a lack of resources for struggling SEO professionals at all levels.

Many are more focused on preparing to pivot than on a set-in-stone plan for the year ahead.

This is especially important in local search, where consumer behaviors change rapidly and Google updates can have rapid and widespread impacts.

What trends and technologies should you have on your radar to inform a more agile and adaptive local SEO strategy in the future?

Joy Hawkins is the owner and founder of a local SEO agency sterling sky. She is a Google Company Profile Product Expert, a well-known and respected industry writer and speaker, and a faculty member at local unit.

In this Q&A style interview, Joy shares her advice on where marketers should focus their attention on local SEO this year, which SEO technologies they’re interested in, how to build a career in local SEO, and more.

Local trends to watch in 2022

Miranda Miller: “What local SEO trends should CMOs really watch out for this year?”

Joy Hawkins: “Google rolled out an algorithm update towards the end of 2021 that caused some serious swings for local businesses.

We dubbed this the “proximity update” because the biggest impact at the time seemed to be a customer’s ability to rank further away from their physical location.

Google seems to have placed a lot more weight on a business’s location and proximity.

If this update persists, it’s important to look at your customers’ closest competition – especially if they now appear in the 3-pack – to see what they are doing that your customer is not.

Google has ramped up the LSA (Local Service Ad) program over the past few years, so chances are we’ll continue to see this platform continue to grow and grow throughout 2022.

If your customers don’t use this outlet, I recommend you take a look.

We also see a lot more image results in SERPs than ever before, both on mobile and desktop.

Paying attention to the images you use, especially on your top-performing pages, would be a wise move.

Local optimizations to focus on (and where to ditch)

Miranda Miller: “Are there any local optimizations or tactics you think marketers tend to spend more time on than they should – or even something we should drop altogether for 2022?”

Joy Hawkins: “Until the Vicinity algorithm update, it was understood that having a keyword-rich name was a huge boost for clients wishing to appear in the 3-pack for wide geographic distribution. .

But that’s just not the case anymore.

From the data we looked at, businesses that had keyword-based names associated with a large proximity reach were the most impacted.

It’s a little early to say for sure that adding keyword descriptors to names no longer works.

But for now, I’d say it’s a tactic marketers can definitely come back to.

Another tactic that we have proven time and time again to offer no value is image geotagging.

When you geotag images, the information is stripped from the image during the upload process, so there’s no need to spend time adding it.

It’s time to let this one die.

Embrace AI content creation technology

Miranda Miller: “Are there any new or developing local SEO technologies that you are particularly interested in? »

Joy Hawkins: “Content is such an important part of SEO, especially creating valuable, high-quality content.

But it can be difficult for content creators to find unique things to say about certain topics.

For example, how much can you really write about concrete repairs?

Over the past year or so, we’ve noticed a big improvement in AI’s content writing capabilities. There are now a number of AI writing services on the market, such as Peppertype.ai, Rhythm.meWhere writingsonic.

We’ve found these services to be a fantastic way to help our content writers get started when they’re feeling stuck.

I wouldn’t entrust content writing entirely to AI, because the content they create still needs to be cleaned up and refined. But these services are incredibly useful as a starting point.

Another tool we just started using is the Company of transparency.

Fake reviews are a very difficult – but common – challenge in the local search space.

It’s great to have a tool that helps you figure out which competitors might be buying reviews on Google.”

The Pros and Cons of a Local SEO Career

Miranda Miller: “What are the most challenging and enjoyable parts of the work you do on a daily basis? »

Joy Hawkins: “The best thing about my day is the people I work with. I work with a fantastic group of people who care about giving their all for our clients and are invested in the gains we can make for our clients.

Working with them and exchanging ideas is definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of my working day.

I’ve also always been a person who likes to dig into data, look at numbers, try to solve mysteries, and that sort of thing.

SEO is that ever-changing puzzle to solve as the pieces change shape, size, and color. I find it both challenging and enjoyable trying to figure out how these puzzle pieces fit together.

As for what is difficult, I would also say that it is sometimes very difficult to balance running a business with all the volunteer work that I do.

Be a Google Product Specialist means that I constantly help users of the Google forum. This often results in many people emailing me or tagging me on Twitter as well.

Volunteering and managing expectations is not for the faint of heart.

Local SEO Career Development Tips

Miranda Miller: “What advice or tips do you have for those just starting out in their local SEO career?”

Joy Hawkins: “SEO is constantly evolving. If the November update taught us anything, it’s that you can’t rely on one strategy to work forever.

If you are getting into the SEO industry, it is important to read the latest trends in order to understand where the industry is at and strategize using this information.

Even so, it is important that you hold these strategies with loose hands. At some point, chances are they will stop working and you will have to adapt.

I recommend always using a number of different SEO strategies so that if one stops working, you don’t have all your eggs in that basket.

I would also suggest networking with others in the industry as much as possible.

There are some truly excellent minds in the world of SEO, and it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to learn from them through blogs, forums, conferences, and even social media posts.

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Featured Image: Courtesy of Sterling Sky Inc.