What is the Future of Local SEO in 2023
For more than 20 years local SEO has been a major factor for small and big local business owners. It has been the most powerful way to engage with online audiences, through positioning pages on the top of the search engines.
Over the years Google and other search engines released thousands of updates, related to how searching and positioning will happen, making us worry about the future of Local SEO.
Nowadays AI (artificial intelligence) has been around the web, gaining popularity, with the idea to change searching for answers.
In this article, we are going to review the future of local SEO and how long will SEO last in 2023.
Table of Contents
Why local SEO still matters?
Going digital with your local store can ensure higher waves of traffic, without the need for physical presence, or guidance on purchasing products.
Moreover, some people prefer online shopping instead of physically going to locations, since they can browse multiple product-selling sites from their homes.
Another reason for the existence of local SEO is the opportunity for each business to get discovered, without having to place billboards, commercial ads, or newspaper advertisements.
Since the world is going digital, local SEO is one of the best ways to be present on the web, without consistently paying for it.
Unlike PPC where you disappear, if you stop paying, SEO keeps you on the SERPs, except if you become victim to a Google algorithm penalty or other reasons.
The death of keyword spamming and backlink manipulation
Over the years Google and other search engines have been releasing updates, with the single aim to stop keyword, and backlink spamming.
For the normal searcher, keywords and backlinks don’t matter. However, a search engine favors them and uses them to understand what the content is about, and how important it can be.
Not long ago backlinks were considered an ultimate ranking factor because acquiring a link, would require an external website, to mention your brand or article, and place a link to your website.
Since backlinks were very important for climbing the top positions in search engines, many webmasters started using black techniques such as purchasing backlinks, setting up PBNs (private blog networks), or exchanging links for the sole of ranking higher.
For excessive linking, and keyword spam to become a must for ranking high, search engines implemented various updates, with the idea to bring quality search results, instead of spam.
To favor those who have been working sincerely on their content, Google awarded them with good keyword positions, while spammers were penalized for their activity.
Will AI destroy local SEO?
Nowadays most people are spinning their heads around AI content writers. For example, Chat GPT has been the newest trend. You simply ask a question and receive the answer, but that’s not all.
Chat GPT is a more powerful AI development, which can create hundreds of lines of code, or even produce massive content to read. Due to the content length, it can produce, it has become a powerful tool for publishing spam content all over the web.
Asking ChatGPT to produce content on Local SEO will trigger the AI to respond with a long-form article about the topic.
You can even continue asking for more questions, and it will continue writing, which makes content publishing faster.
The hype over ChatGPT has made thousands of content writers worry that their work will be gone, and many local SEO companies will go down the drain.
What people don’t understand is that AI can be easily caught by Google and other search engines, since the content it gives is completely taken from another source and spun.
Rephrasing parts of the content is still an efficient way to fool search engines but in the long run, it will be found and devalued, just like buying links, and building PBNs.
With that said, AI will not take over local SEO, or destroy thousands of careers, which belong to the SEO sector, AI cannot understand humans, as other humans do.
Reasons why local SEO will not die
With the beginning of the first AI content writers and other tools, business owners started hiring individuals, who understood and used AI for cheaper prices.
It will not be long until these people realize how important local SEO is when it’s done manually, without the help of writers.
To prove these words, I have outlined the top factors why local SEO will not die.
Local SEO helps humans find your business online
Becoming a digital business is a serious step taken by many business owners, but even if they have a brand established, it will not result in better keyword positions.
Except, for the brand keywords, digital businesses need to rank for locally searched terms.
46% of all searches on search engines have a local intent, and 97% of these users searched the web for finding a local business in their area, or at least 5 miles away. The same data proves that 78% of all local searches done on mobile result in an offline purchase, says SafariDigital.
Search engines understand the intent of each query
The engineers behind a search engine have employed various techniques, to help search engines understand the meaning behind a certain query.
For example, Googling about lightbulbs won’t give straight articles with definitions of the word, or how they are used. Since Google understands the meaning behind the query, it will deliver image-based results, of how a lightbulb looks like, and display its variations.
AI cannot recommend products or services
Since the main idea of AI is to provide faster answers related to your search, it still has some flops. For example, no AI tool can recommend products or services.
Even if it did, there would be no proof that the product or service has been tested, and what was the experience after the purchase.
That is another reason to look for influencers or local bloggers, who can test the product or service, and make content based on their experience.
After all, people trust reviews and require them to make their decision on whether they should make a purchase or not.
5 Future Predictions for Local SEO
For the people who are practicing local SEO or have been in the field for quite a lot time, note down a few of these future predictions for local SEO.
The 5 future predictions are only a small part of what local SEO can become in the near future.
Local SEO will become more competitive
As the popularity of shopping online increases, more business owners will invest in local SEO services to concrete the top spots, creating higher competition.
Depending on the population of a city ranking for keywords would still be different, however, competing against older businesses with authority would be almost impossible.
As we had previously mentioned, most searches are done with local intent, and people are looking for a store or service company near them.
With that in mind, the need the competition gets tougher, and every business owner is looking to invest bigger amounts, making local SEO services more expensive.
Search engines will prioritize local searches
Due to people’s preference for purchasing products or services from local outlets, Google has been putting efforts into making the local search algorithm a lot more helpful.
If we exclude the recent helpful content and spam updates, Google included shopping, service, and recommended listings tabs to make local searches faster, and more efficient.
To get into the local service ads, you will need to pay for each call and then provide evidence if this call was real, or fake. Service providers seem to like the option, despite pricing and filtering relevant, and irrelevant calls, and so did most of the clients.
On the other side, product tabs were also introduced to local searchers, which could be seen on Google Business Profiles, or even below the search box of their browsers.
Website speed will be an important ranking factor
After the launch of the Google Core Web Vitals, the speed of a website became a ranking factor, which could result in higher rankings.
With time it will become one of the most important factors for ranking content overall, as search engines continue to get more searches done from mobile phones.
As per Google’s recommendation, a website should load in less than 3 seconds, however, the average loading time of the top websites is still 7 seconds.
Ratings and reviews will be a top factor for conversions
Many business owners disregard the power of reviews, and ratings across business listings, social media websites, and even directories. However, they are the decision maker when it comes to purchasing something.
No person would buy a product or ask for a service if the company he is speaking to has no background or recommendations in the past.
That’s why brand-new companies don’t make it far, except if they speak with local influencers or blogs to review and create content around their services.
After a few more years of establishing itself in the digital space, more people will prefer ratings over anything else.
PPC advertising will cost more
As local search volumes are higher year after year, business owners who need to wait for ranking on the top will bid on keywords to be present on the first results.
Once this becomes the main source of being visible on the first ad spots before ranking organically, bidding for keywords will be more expensive than ever.
Business owners will try to outbid the top placements, leaving no choice to businesses with smaller budgets, but to advertise on social media sites or buy ads elsewhere.