As with most things in the world of SEO more businesses are vying for those top three spots on search. This is going to get more and more competitive going into 2017, even more than we saw in 2017. There are a few key differences that you should note, however, if you want to stay ahead.

The first thing you need to note is the not-so-subtle change in paid ad placement. Where ads were once placed on the side of search results, they are now at the top and bottom of the page, with 4 slots for paid.

It’s going to be harder for people to notice you when they finally scroll down that page, especially if you’re not in those top 3 spots already.

Ratings, Paid, and Organic Results

Another element to consider with this new ad system is the ratings that display prominently in local search results.

How Local Search has Changed Since 2016

The eye immediately goes for people with more stars. Even if you have to scroll down the list to find a 5-star place, people are more likely to go for that option.

The latest search algorithms seem to favor SEO more so than paid so don’t be depressed if those costly search terms are getting you down.

This means that you need to focus more on becoming well-rounded in terms of SEO.

What does that mean?

This means you need to boost your social presence, edit your content, publish press releases, and build your brand.

A quick way to see what you’re lacking in 2017 is to search what companies are outperforming you. You need to look at what they’re doing right so you can improve your own material. is a great tool for seeing who the leader is for a specific keyword.

How Local Search has Changed Since 2016

Some of the leaders of my example search query are as follows:

How Local Search has Changed Since 2016

You can see that these are some of the highest ranking sites for both paid and organic across the country.

Voice Searches

Another major change is the shift from regular to voice search. People use their mobile devices while driving, they don’t want to crash, they use voice searches.

The difference between the two can be pretty staggering. While the majority of people only use voice search when they’re home alone, this can still be a powerful tool to utilize for your business.

The ”Near Me” Train

You’ve probably used this verbiage yourself from time to time. This search trend has been on the rise since 2012 because Google sees the value of local results.

How Local Search has Changed Since 2016

If you haven’t already, you need to optimize your business for these types of searches.

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are something that you want to pay more attention to coming into this year. If you create relevant content that ranks for the information people are looking for.

As an example, let’s say you write a blog page about cleaning jewelry for your jewelry store site. Some people looking for ways to clean they’re jewelry are more likely to purchase more at some point. With your blog post, you’re gaining exposure for your brand.

How Local Search has Changed Since 2016: Conclusion

There are actually a few things you can take from these changes that could put you ahead of the competition. The first is to realize that uncommon forms of searching are getting more popular with advances in technology. Alexa and Google Search are prime examples. People search differently when they say their queries out loud.

The second thing to note is the way Google is displaying both ads and snippets. You need to study what people look for on the page most often to determine what strategies to employ. If people only look at the first ad then immediately scroll down to the organic results, then it’s not worth it to spend a little on ads to get 3rd and 4th place.

You need to take all these things into considering when going into 2017 if you want to stay on top of your industry.

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