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8 Q1 Local Search Developments You Need to Know About

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8 Q1 Local Search Developments You Need to Know About


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

A constant stream of developments and issues are the simple building blocks that shape our dynamic local search environment but the task of keeping up with the ongoing news can be complex when you’ve already got plenty to do. The first quarter of 2022 brought us some new opportunities (and a few problems) which you might have missed due to general busy-ness. Today’s column is a quick roundup of interesting happenings that merit your awareness for the sake of the local businesses you market.

1. Google really wants local businesses to discover Pointy

Colan Nielsen spotted Google advertising free access to Pointy, right in the Google Business Profile dashboard. The time is right to get clients thinking about multiple ways to vend, and the Pointy system couldn’t be easier for retailers to use. The bigger picture, though, is whether Google’s efforts to promote their shopping functions can compete with Amazon for control of online transactions and how that may impact local business owners. Here’s how the experts at Near Media explain Google’s bet that inventory + local can help them win:

“Local inventory (online) can help divert consumers away from Amazon. But it’s not inventory alone; it’s inventory + convenience…. stores able to offer real-time inventory and multiple convenience options can win.”

2. Google emphasizes recency of business status to bolster consumer trust

Barry Schwartz came across this notification on GBPs stating that business hours were confirmed via phone call, and other labels we’ve discovered have included “Confirmed by this business” and the somewhat mysterious “Confirmed by others”. I take this as evidence that Google knows if searchers are getting inaccurate data from listings that then misdirects and inconveniences them, it will erode trust in the product. It’s an awareness local SEOs have long advocated for the search engine to bring to its review corpus. On that note, the end of 2021 saw the rollout of an updated Chrome extension called Transparency which purports to use AI to predict whether a profile contains fake reviews. If you’ve used it, please let me know what you think.

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3. Speaking of reviews, there was a big pause in them posting

If your clients were calling in fretting about missing reviews in mid-March, it was likely due to a confirmed Google bug. Hopefully, you saw resolution of this widespread issue about a week after it occurred. If not, time to review your review strategy to diagnose why feedback you’re expecting from customers isn’t showing up as there’s indication that Google’s review filters are becoming stricter. This development can seem like a big hassle to business owners, but it’s a necessary one. I’m seeing signs that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the presence of fake local business reviews, and if Google doesn’t step up their efforts to limit review spam, customers will lose trust in their platform and your listing.

4. Review snippets can appear right on the map, and it’s pretty neat!

We already know reviews are hugely influential but just think of the impression they must make on customers when they appear right on the map, as captured by Allie Margeson. In her search for local second-hand spots, we see customers exclaiming, “Best thrift store in the area!” and “It’s the best thrift shop ever!” amid the rolling blue and green of Google’s maps. While I’m not aware of any process to prompt this special treatment, it’s just one more incentive to keep public feedback coming in with an organized reputation and reviews strategy.

5. Owner responses are finally showing on LSAs

Tom Waddington came to Twitter with the good news that Google’s Local Service Ad reviews are, at long last, displaying owner responses, though only on mobile. With the FTC’s recent accusation that HomeAdvisor misrepresented lead stats and pricing to small business owners, it’s a moment of serious opportunity for Google to treat its service providers base better. Displaying the work business owners put into writing great responses to reviews is one small step in that direction, but there’s so much more Google could do to become local business-centric. Here’s hoping!

6. GBP Insights in-SERP

Don’t be startled if you see your Google Business Profile metrics show up right in the SERPs when you’re logged in. I’d predict that what Claire Carlile captured here is one of many developments we’ll see in this direction, now that Google has determined that SMBs should manage more of their experience inside the search engine results. I find that messy, but others may like the interface. This is a good time to review what the labels in GBP insights actually represent.

7. Refine/Broaden SERP Feature Rolls Out

This feature, which allows users to access more nuanced results, was previewed at an event last fall and has now emerged in the US English-speaking market. Barry Schwartz points out that this new option could have the impact of either offering searchers more ways to discover your business or simply distracting them from it. This rollout is a perfect example of the type of test Google is always running in their quest for more relevant results, as we recently covered in-depth here at Moz in QRG Clues to How Google Evaluates Local Business Reputation. From time to time, it’s smart to ask ourselves how our own search behavior is evolving across the lengthy timeline of Google’s feature rollouts. How differently do you search in 2022 compared to your behavior a decade ago?

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8. We’ve learned more about Vicinity

Consider this a topic-in-progress because local SEOs and businesses are continuing to discover and interpret the impacts of Google’s late-2021 Vicinity update. This is what we know so far:

  1. Sterling Sky reported that the update appeared to hinge on proximity (like our old friend Possum) and noted that this rollout correlated with the significant changes to pack layouts that occurred in December. Sterling Sky observed that packs were more zoomed in and featured a greater overall diversity of businesses. Their team also shared that keywords in business titles appeared to have been subject to this update.

  2. BrightLocal then published the largest study I’ve seen, to date. Their survey of nearly 400 Google Business Profiles across 5,000 keywords turned up a loss of roughly 5 – 8 places in the local SERPS for listings with stuffed titles. What is a bit stranger, however, is that brands with legitimate keywords in their titles suffered the same demotion. In other words, if a company you market is actually called Luxury Town Cars of Marin, the Vicinity update may have docked it while boosting a competitor called Jim’s Nice Rides. Meanwhile, long business titles also saw downward movement, which will be problematic for any company with a name of more than 31 characters. Such brands saw the greatest losses of an average of about a 9-spot trip down the rankings.

It’s important to know that experienced local SEOs are interpreting Vicinity in different ways, as evidenced in this valuable Twitter thread started by Darren Shaw. On the one hand, you could say that keywords in the business title have become a negative ranking factor. Or, you could see them as still being a positive factor, but one which Google has now simply dialed down, causing the losses. However you style the outcomes, I think there are two important questions involved:

  1. Will Vicinity curtail the practice of keyword stuffing business titles because it’s no longer yielding the same rewards. We can hope so, as the local SEO community has long urged Google to stop favoring this silly practice.

  2. Does Vicinity finally answer all those forum FAQs about rebranding local businesses to suit Google’s historic bias toward keywords in business titles? Companies have done so in the past, but does Vicinity make the practice not worthwhile?

Read the Twitter thread to see a variety of opinions. My own is that a) spammers will take awhile to realize what appears to have happened with Vicinity and so they will continue to stuff for some time to come and b) I’ve historically found that it’s better to do your own thing well than to worry too much about pleasing Google’s foibles. The latter take may seem antithetical to SEO, but having witnessed patterns like the rise and fall of EMDs, I tend to disfavor legitimate local businesses jumping through too many hoops in hopes of Google’s biases and weaknesses shining upon them until the next update. My advice is to keep studying emerging research on the impacts of Vicinity to arrive at your own thoughtful interpretation before changing any of your best practices.

Onward to Q2

Image credit: Ron Frazier

A pattern of significant developments in Q1 reveal a Google which is highly focused on the many aspects of reviews. Take this as a sign that local SEOs and business owners should be, as well. Meanwhile, Google’s emphasis on transactions and search quality tracks their progress in convincing consumers to shop with them, not Amazon.

While the titans fight it out, my Q2 suggestion is to help independent local businesses plan and publicize their summer strategy to keep serving the community amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t buy into the market-driven hype that everything is “back to normal”. Instead, keep ideating on bringing necessities and cheer to the whole community, including the households of your many neighbors with vulnerable loved ones. This is important work, and your success will be reflected in your reviews, results, and revenue in the quarter ahead.

Need help keeping up with SEO news? Please, sign up for the Moz Top 10, effortlessly delivered to your inbox twice monthly!





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MARKETING

Content Marketers Share Salaries, Career Paths, and More in 2023 [New Research]

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Content Marketers Share Salaries, Career Paths, and More in 2023 [New Research]

What’s it like to work in content marketing? Is it a rewarding career? Does it pay well? What’s the career trajectory?

You certainly know your answers to these questions. But, until now, little industry research has dived into content marketing careers.

We set out to find answers. Our goal is to help content marketers understand their opportunities and positions – and help companies develop meaningful roles and the resources and opportunities to retain them.

So, earlier this year, we asked content marketers about their work satisfaction, career development, and salary expectations.

More than 1,100 content professionals had their say. You can read the full story – including salary breakdowns by role, gender, and generation – in the Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook (gated).

New @CMIContent survey of #content pros gives a 2023 outlook on careers and salaries, says @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Let’s take a sneak peek at some of the intriguing findings.

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You (mostly) like your content marketing jobs

More than half of the content pros (56%) tell us they’re very or extremely satisfied with their current position.

One content marketer explains: “I can be creative while being tied to business impact. Content marketing offers the fulfillment and growth of a creative career with the stability and compensation of a corporate career. It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s possible.”

Another offers this explanation: “I love seeing all the pieces come together; how great words and innovative designs can affect and influence consumers and audiences. And I love working behind the scenes, getting to turn the cogs of the content machine.”

Satisfaction rates stay roughly the same from millennials to Gen Xers to baby boomers. (We had too few Gen Z respondents to report on their segment with confidence.)

Of course, that’s not to say the job is easy. When asked about stress levels, 24% of content marketers say they are “very” or “extremely” stressed.

24% of #content marketers say they are very or extremely stressed, according to @CMIContent #research via @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

One survey taker explains, “The pace of work can be relentless. Just when you’ve completed one big project, another is right behind it.”

And some kudos go to employers. A significant majority (74%) said they feel their employers care about their stress levels and mental health.

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HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

You’re well educated – and eager to learn more

Among the surveyed group, one in three has a master’s, doctorate, or another advanced degree. As you probably know from your and your colleagues’ career pathways, people come into content marketing from many backgrounds (some come from multiple fields), including:

And content marketers are eager to expand their knowledge base:

  • Over 45% want to advance their skills in SEO, data analytics, audience development/segmentation, and integrating new technologies.
  • 40% show interest in honing their writing and editing skills.
  • One in three wants to hone their audio and video skills (filming, editing, and production).

Content Marketers Interested in Learning These Skills

Content marketers clearly rank high on the “digital dexterity” scale – the ability to learn new skills and adapt to new environments. That’s a sign of an adaptable, resilient workforce ready to meet whatever the future brings.

As Jean-Marc Laouchez, president of the Korn Ferry Institute, says in a Computerworld article: “Constant learning – driven by both workers and organizations – will be central to the future of work, extending far beyond the traditional definition of learning and development.”

And yet, many content marketers are looking for new positions

Content marketers like their jobs and are ready to learn. And yet, most (57%) say they plan to find another position within the next year or are unsure about their next steps.

Looking at it from another angle: Only 43% say they won’t be looking for a new job in the next year.

Only 43% of #content marketers say they won’t be looking for a new job in 2023, according to @CMIContent #research via @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

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Will Content Marketing Turnover Remain High in 2023?

What’s driving this restlessness? Is it a persistent echo of the Great Resignation? Or a wave of “quiet quitting” in content marketing?

I don’t think so. Instead, the research points to something at the heart of content marketing careers.

Content marketing lacks a clear career path

The data highlights a troubling phenomenon: Only 23% of content marketers say they have a clear path for advancement inside their current company.

Nearly all the rest (69%) say they must leave their companies to advance or simply can’t visualize the path forward. (A small share – 8% – say they’ve reached the pinnacle of their careers and aren’t looking for advancement.)

Many Content Marketers See No Clear Career Path

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Robert Rose, our chief strategy advisor, has written about this problem: “Content marketing is growing exponentially. But the advancement ladder for content practitioners is missing most of its rungs.”

Companies that don’t address the content marketing career ladder will struggle to keep these highly educated, adaptable employees.

Where to?

Content marketers want better-defined career paths and are eager to advance their skills. So, where to begin nurturing their ambitions? With dialogue.

If you’re an individual contributor on a content team, speak up about your needs and wants.

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If you’re a team leader, involve your creative, results-driven professionals in open, honest conversations. Invite them to help shape their career paths based on their aspirations. Then partner with HR and executive leadership to provide what they need to achieve their goals.

After all, investing in their future also pays off for the brand.

Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook offers more insights into:

  • Content marketers’ income
  • Unique career priorities by age and gender
  • Advice on how companies can recruit and retain the best content marketing talent

I hope you’ll download the e-book to learn more. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. How do these findings align with your experience? What would you tell the next generation about content marketing as a career? Let me know in the comments.

Get the latest Content Marketing Institute research reports while they’re hot – subscribe to the newsletter. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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