While still no one has asked me for my input on this years Local Search Ranking Factors, since I’ve been knee deep in Local Search every day for a wide variety of clients nationwide, I have lots of opinions and a few predictions for 2017. For months now there has been a flurry of small changes in the world of Google My Business and those are foreshocks for some major changes we’ll see in 2017.
Update: Jack Jostes & I decided to go on record – and on video – with our spoken 2017 local SEO Predictions. Jacks top 5 list has been added to the bottom of the post.
From the “Google Local Business Center” to “Google Places” in 2010, then to the ill-advised “Google+Local” debacle to the current “Google My Business”, name changes and re-branding have been consistent with Google’s business listing platform. Many changes are happening in Google My Business right now. From experimental verification methods to increased support initiatives, to expanded attributes and insights – there’s a lot of emphasis on Google My Business. Expect a new name to roll out along with something really
lame new just when most business owners have memorized the current name.
Hoping to get this right this time, there’s a way to capture the small business market with a simple and effective stand-alone advertising option right there in the dashboard. Why else would Google be pushing businesses to “post” more photos, and start “posting directly on Google.” This is them playing catch up to Facebook ads and don’t expect it to succeed. It will launch in a typically blunderific manner, likely merged with….Yep you guessed it – #3
Google+ does have some traction, but they are not Facebook – but they probably want to be. The fly on the wall in countless secretive “how can we make Google+ as big as Facebook” meetings tells me that a huge push is about to happen. I’m seeing lots of arrows pointing this direction. Expect a big splash on this one. Hint: It’s closely related to #1 & #2 above, perhaps under a variation of the current name.
Increasingly, Google wants you to stay on Google without clicking to your website to transact with your business. This is clear and obvious. With the coming primary focus on mobile and then voice search, and with Facebook, Apple & Amazon doing the same thing – users will be able to get everything they need from you – without visiting your site. This change has already begun and when it becomes big news – well, we don’t really know what will happen. But it will.
Google’s “Possum” Algorithm update in 2016 affected many local business and their Google listings. And there’s more work to do. I expect another major update to address the as-yet-unenforced Google Guidelines violations such as Business Name Spam. This might be more of a wish than a prediction. It just needs to happen.
If you have your own predictions or you disagree with these, please share in the comments below. (insignificant wagers are optional)