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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.

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?

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

8 Q1 Local Search Developments You Need to Know About

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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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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Salesforce rolls out new edition of Marketing Cloud for small businesses

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Salesforce summer 2023 release: The business executive's guide

Today Salesforce announced Marketing Cloud Growth, an edition of Marketing Cloud designed specifically for small businesses.

With help from AI, this edition makes it easy for marketers to segment audiences, create and execute email campaigns from text to image, optimize campaign performance and create unified customer profiles. It also has a prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations.

Dig deeper: 70% of SMB marketers willing to pay more for tools with AI or automation

Salesforce developed the new edition by looking at the most common use cases for which small businesses frequenty don’t have the people or resources. This includes things like personalizing campaigns and advanced testing.

The company is also letting small businesses (those with fewer than 200 employees) that have Sales or Service Enterprise Edition “get started with Data Cloud at no cost.” Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada and is expected to roll out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia by the end of the year.

Why we care. First of all, small businesses need all the help they can get. This creates an opportunity to start using AI within a centralized marketing workflow rather than importing content from independent generative AI tools. Perhaps it’s also a sign of Salesforce moving to compete with platforms (can we say HubSpot?) that more overtly court SMB clients.

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Elevate Your YouTube Channel: Top 4 Video Editing Tools

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Elevate Your YouTube Channel: Top 4 Video Editing Tools

Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools

Launched in 2005, YouTube now stands as the second largest search engine after Google.

Almost 2.7 billion people use YouTube worldwide every month and 87.7% of those users access it on their mobile phones.

Owing to the large number of video content available on the platform, you want to ensure that yours stands out.

To make it happen, you need to master effective content creation tips, use fantastic lighting, and invest in powerful video editing software.

There are tons of editing tools on the market that promise amazing results. 

To help you cut through the noise, I’ve curated a list of the 4 best YouTube video editing software.

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there’s something for you. Keep reading.

1. Movavi Video Editor

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Top on the list is the Movavi Video Editor, one of the best YouTube video editing software for beginners.

It enables you to create compelling videos using advanced tools like audio correction, motion tracking, and chroma key without requiring any technical knowledge.

Additionally, you’ll find several ready-made YouTube intro videos and a large library of background music and audio clips.

Although the user interface is easy to navigate, Movavi still provides video tutorials to make you feel confident while editing.

Movavi runs on Windows (versions 7 to 11) and Mac OS X (10.15 or higher).

Key Features

  • AI background remover: Replaces backgrounds without a green screen
  • AI motion tracker: Sticks effects and images on moving objects
  • Precise frame cuts: Makes cuts with precision and attention-grabbing montages in one click
  • Color correction: Boosts colors so viewers can stay glued to your YouTube channel
  • Overlay effect: Offers 13 blending modes to create professional-looking videos
  • 4k resolution: Saves videos in ultra-high quality form
  • YouTube Integration: Saves you time by sharing videos directly to YouTube

Pricing

Movavi offers a generous free plan and three paid plans with different sets of features. Here are the prices for various plans it offers:

  • Free
  • Video Editor: $49.95/year
  • Video Editor + Effect Packs: $155.95/year
  • Video Suite + Effect Packs: $94.95/year
1708399564 966 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools1708399564 966 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools

Usability

Easy to use

Tool Level

Beginner/Intermediate

2. Adobe Premiere Pro

1708399565 365 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools1708399565 365 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools

If you’re looking for the best YouTube video editing software that can transform a basic clip into a ready-to-upload video, Adobe Premiere Pro is your best bet. 

It integrates with all the apps in Adobe Creative Cloud to help you streamline your workflow.

Adobe Premiere Pro boasts an extensive range of features, from color correction tools and visual effects to collaboration tools for teams. 

Also, you can optimize the export settings to preserve the quality of your YouTube videos when you share them online. 

Although Premiere Pro is popular among professional video editors, follow the video steps for beginners provided on the platform to learn how to use it. All you need is a powerful computer and willingness to study the available tutorials.

The app is compatible with Windows (10 or later) and macOS Monterey (version 12 or later).

Key Features

  • Text-based editing: Removes pauses with ease
  • Project templates: Retains assets, colors, and branding across multiple projects
  • Speech-to-text conversion: Automatically creates captions and transcripts in over 18 languages
  • Auto reframe: Automatically detects and adjusts aspect ratios to easily upload videos to YouTube
  • Adobe stock library: Offers access to stock video footage, photos, and over 75,000 audio tracks and remix the length to fit your video

Pricing

Adobe Premier Pro offers two paid plans. Here are the details:

  • Premiere Pro: $29.99/month
  • Creative Cloud All Apps: $59.99/month
1708399565 222 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools1708399565 222 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools

Usability

Has a steep learning curve

Tool Level

Intermediate/Advanced

3. Shotcut

1708399565 295 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools1708399565 295 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools

Available on Linux, Windows, and macOS, Shotcut is a comprehensive YouTube video editing software solution. 

It supports various video and audio files, including AVI, WAV, and MP4.

The video editing software is great for complex projects as it allows you to combine several audio, image, and video files into one video. 

Also, editing on the platform doesn’t follow a chronological order; you can make changes at any point.

Shotcut may not be the best editing tool for new content creators because of the learning curve. 

However, the platform has a video editing guide, including a community of Shotcut users who are willing to assist you.

Key Features

  • Native timeline editing: Supports all video and audio formats, including 4k and 8k resolutions
  • Cross-platform editing: Gives you the option to start a project on macOS and switch to Windows without hassles
  • Video effects: Offers built-in effects like auto-rotate, white balancing, timeline fader, and 360° video filters, without installing any plugins
  • Display and monitoring: Ability to preview videos in low resolution to improve the speed of real-time effects
  • Keyframing: Option to define the start and finish points of effects along the video timeline such as transition, sound, and brightness or contrast

Pricing

 Shotcut is completely free to use as it’s an open-source software solution

Usability

It has a steep learning curve

Tool Level

Intermediate

4. Lightworks

1708399565 259 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools1708399565 259 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools

If you’re looking to create the best videos in a short time, Lightworks is the way to go. 

It’s the best YouTube video editing software for beginners who are willing to learn video editing as they grow their YouTube channels.

Similar to Shotcut, the platform is loaded with all the tools you need to go from a beginner to a pro.

You can edit, color correct, add titles, and more using the drag-and-drop interface. 

Also, it’s compatible with YouTube video format and resolution for ease of uploading content.

All versions of Lightworks can work on Windows (8 and later), macOS (10.14 and later), and Linux.

Key Features

  • Universal timeline: Accommodates video footage of any quality, size, or frame rate
  • Flawless audio editing: Offers various audio effects and the option to sync with video for an immersive experience
  • Visual effects: Offers a simplified suite of over 700 customizable motion graphics and titles for easy to advanced editing
  • Easy export and share: Allows you to share videos on YouTube directly from the platform

Pricing

Here are the pricing plans offered by Lightworks.

  • Free
  • Create: $9.99/month
  • Pro: $23.99/month
1708399565 484 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools1708399565 484 Elevate Your YouTube Channel Top 4 Video Editing Tools

Usability

Easy to use

Tool Level

Beginners/Intermediate/Advanced

Pro Tip: According to Attrock guide, the best video maker can offer training resources for non-technical users. This is particularly designed for video marketers who have no high skills in video creation and editing.

Choosing the Best YouTube Video Editing Software

Getting the best YouTube video editing software shouldn’t cost a fortune. 

Platforms like Shotcut and Lightworks offer free tools for both beginners and expert editors.

However, if your YouTube channel is already monetized and you’re willing to spend money on a super-advanced tool, Premiere Pro will be ideal.

Lastly, if you’re ready to level up your video editing game, try Movavi today. You’ll save money while accessing advanced editing features.


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