“Location, location, location” is no longer a mantra for those in real-estate alone. Apple is turning marketers’ heads with its latest mobile operating system, iOS 9, to be released this fall; this time, having a stronger focus on local search. Just like with any major update (we might recall Google’s Mobilegeddon earlier this year) brands and businesses have a brief opportunity to implement changes in an effort to rise to search stardom, or they may sink between the cracks.
For the first time, mobile app content will be integrated into search, providing an opportunity for users to connect with location-based content. Apple Maps, a local search platform for millions, will implement features to enhance location detail and provide local business search results, as well as detailed public transit information.
These changes could prove to be a great opportunity for local business to be brought to the forefront; having store locations and other important information displayed in Apple Maps though Siri, Spotlight, and Safari search.
Your site may already be marked, “mobile-friendly”, but there is a narrow window to get your site and apps optimized for iOS local search in time for the update. Here’s what to look for to be sure you’re up to speed:
1. Check your location data
Getting your business on Apple’s radar is just the beginning. Check to see that your location data is up to date and visible to its web and app crawler, Applebot. Keep your location data consistently visible and include a store locator feature for you app or website.
2. Provide rich results
Make your content richer by using images, reviews, actions, and adding metadata wherever possible. Keyword usage is an imperative practice as well but be careful not to “over-stuff” and to stay relevant to the content topic. Applebot will ideally recognize it and reward you for having ample, relevant information to scan.
3. Index your best
Improve your “engagement-to-shown” ratio by indexing your best content with a focus on local search. Always index positive user-generated content, as well as content that provides any information on location. Avoid duplicate content by using the same identifier for the same item across multiple APIs.
4. Use schema
Help iOS return more of your information results to users by making sure to markup your website with schema. Two actions are currently supported by iOS; calling a phone number, and getting directions to an address. There are plenty of resources available to help you implement schemas to build out your SERP real estate with more detail, as in this example:
5. Know that speed is a factor
Check the amount of time it takes from from tapping a search result to the content displaying in your app. Apple will be measuring it as well and using this information as a ranking factor.
6. Get user-generated content
Let your users speak for you. Incorporating ratings, reviews, and testimonials will help to give your content a more local focus. Allow users to engage in these actions via your app, website, and social media platforms, and your content will be more likely to show up in search results.
The new iOS 9 update provides the chance for local businesses to be seen in a new light. By taking the necessary actions to implement changes to your site or app, your local business or brand can stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive advantage over the big players in search results.
What changes are you making to be ready for iOS 9 local search?
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