The State of Local Search in 2018, and Looking Ahead to 2019

Over the past five years, the concept of local search has transformed the digital marketing industry. Businesses thrive when they are able to attract local customers, and local search helps to facilitate this process. As part of the broader search engine optimization (SEO) field, local search is simply the means by which businesses can improve their visibility in online search engine results, utilizing numerous tactics and strategies to achieve this visibility. The insurance industry gains particular benefits from local search, and in SEO for insurance agents, local search strategies should be part of any digital marketing endeavor. In this guide, we’ll review the state of local search and look at emerging trends in this exciting new area of marketing.

Google My Business: The Cornerstone of Local Search

In an industry study conducted by a leading SEO research firm, Google My Business (GMB) was cited as the leading and most influential aspect of local search rankings in 2018. Offered to business owners by search engine giant Google, GMB is a free tool that allows companies to share details of their business operations with search users in a way that is optimized for local customers. With a GMB profile claimed by a given business, users can view hours of operation, physical location, reviews of products and services, and even locate the business on a map.

For SEO professionals, the role of Google My Business cannot be overstated. It is a critical component of the local search strategy, allowing greater search visibility for local customers and helping a given business stand out from its competitors, regardless of market. Insurance companies that leverage GMB profiles report increased local business traffic, helping them to connect with the people in their communities.

Link Building: Taking Local Search to the Next Level

Since the first days of online marketing, links have been an important signal in search engine visibility. Websites would go to great lengths to link to outside resources, regardless of authority or relevance. Links are still a vital part of the overall digital marketing sphere, allowing discovery of a business while providing site visitors with the details they need to make informed purchasing decisions. Today, link building requires different strategies, with SEO professionals focusing on link authority and quality over quantity of links pointing to and from a given website.

SEO for insurance agents must include link-building campaigns. In the same study that pointed to Google My Business as the leading local search visibility influencer, almost 40% of all businesses and digital marketing teams admitted that they did not engage in this critical part of marketing. Embarking on a link building campaign can differentiate a business from its competitors, boosting local search visibility dramatically and improving traffic to the company’s web properties. Some of the most effective targets to link to include:

  • Local and regional business directories
  • Review sites
  • Industry news outlets

Looking to the Future of Local Search

As with any part of the online environment, nothing remains the same for long. SEO is constantly evolving, and emerging trends influence how digital marketers apply new tools and technologies for the benefit of their clients. Two such trends stand out for local search. The first is the concept of reviews, an important part of any search ranking but one gaining steam in local search. Reviews are described as “behavioral signals”, letting search engines know that customers are engaging with a given business and its products or services. In order to help build these signals, it is important that insurance companies actively seek out reviews from customers. Customer feedback can improve local search as well as help businesses understand their customers, allowing them to tailor their services to meet the needs of each customer.

The second trend is the push to keep searchers on Google, rather than directing them to a company’s own website. Google has moved to provide searchers with every detail they need – from reviews about a business to its operating hours, prices, and product/service descriptions, only to name a few of the many bits of information available directly through search results pages. In SEO for insurance agents, SEO teams can leverage this trend, ensuring that Google has as much information as possible to share with searchers. Making sure that information is correct is the key to success; SEO teams must use the tools on Google My Business to edit entries until all information is verified. With these local search trends and tips, insurance companies across the country will be able to connect with customers local to them, improving the traffic and revenue that are crucial to grow a given business.

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