Professional Native search engine marketing Predictions for 2021

Now that 2020 is properly and actually behind us, we will start trying ahead to greater, higher issues. That’s proper of us, the time is as soon as once more upon us to carry out our BrightLocal crystal ball and enlist a number of the local search community’s most well-loved experts to assist us with some native search engine marketing predictions for the approaching 12 months. 

However, earlier than we get began enthusiastic about what’s to return for 2021, how did our consultants fare with what they predicted in 2020?

Reflecting on 2020’s Native search engine marketing Predictions

A lot happened in 2020, however what number of of our consultants’ native search engine marketing predictions got here true? 

Sadly, a number of our professionals had hoped 2020 would see a discount in spam, however with the introduction of latest Covid-19 help, sources, and options, plus restricted Google My Enterprise help, it appears Google had different issues apart from spam-fighting to maintain them busy…

Ben Fisher

My prediction for 2020 was proper — Google figured it out and eradicated spam! Simply kidding — I actually mentioned that “I feel spam will improve,” and it did. The authorized area, storage door, and insurance coverage area, to call a couple of, are nonetheless affected by spam.

Ben Fisher (VP of Advertising, Steady Demand)

Tim Capper

I predicted that spam would worsen for 2020 and, boy, was I proper.

Tim Capper (Native search engine marketing Guide, Online Ownership

We might not have seen the again of spam, however a few of our consultants did efficiently predict some fairly main GMB information.

Andrew Optimisey

Dan Foland

Final 12 months my prediction was that Google was going to place extra effort into monetizing GMB and native search. My prediction got here true with the rollout of Native Service Adverts (LSAs) for skilled service industries. Google had been testing LSAs previous to the rollout for fairly a while and determined to lastly roll it out nationally.

Dan Foland (search engine marketing Director, Postali)

Google My Enterprise

In direction of the top of the 12 months, Whitespark’s Native Search Rating Elements survey confirmed simply how vital having an lively and optimized GMB profile actually is. With GMB being voted the primary local search ranking factor, it’s no shock that it was prime of the listing when it got here to our consultants’ native search predictions…

Amy Toman

The prominence of GMB listings elevated in 2020, primarily throughout the lockdowns. Companies used GMB to get the phrase out as a lot as attainable, particularly when folks couldn’t get to their bodily areas. They remembered how one can log in, and discovered how one can appropriate misinformation. With this stark reminder, I’m hoping companies proceed their interactions with their listings to maintain management of their data.

Amy Toman (search engine marketing Analyst, Digital Law Marketing)

Claire Carlile

Backed up by what many native search consultants confirmed within the 2020 Native search engine marketing Rating Elements survey, thorough optimization of your GMB profile will proceed to be key for native pack rankings in 2021. 

I’ll be persevering with to reap the benefits of the complete gamut of options in GMB, together with posts and merchandise, and ensuring that the enterprise profile of my SMB purchasers look completely kick-ass and that they encourage engagement and actions. Lively engagement on the enterprise’s half shall be key — monitoring user-generated content material like Q&A, photos, and opinions must be a timetabled exercise. Small companies will change into extra conscious of how their model shows within the SERP and the way third occasion and UGC play a task in that. Below-utilized options like messaging, and little identified options just like the ‘new follower provide’, will begin to acquire momentum as Google pushes extra interactive and social options into Google Maps.

A vibrant and totally optimized GMB profile will change into desk stakes in 2021 as extra companies begin to discover options that have been lesser-known to them — so the significance of testing and measuring what works and doesn’t work for what you are promoting when it comes to GMB content material shall be extra vital than ever.

Claire Carlile (Digital Advertising Guide, Claire Carlile Marketing)

Ben Fisher

GMB will stay on the prime of the listing of belongings you want for native search, as practically all native intent searches return GMB profiles.

I consider there are additionally some main modifications coming to how service-area companies are dealt with from a discoverability standpoint, and the rules shall be made extra clear.

I feel we are going to see an increase in suspensions as GMB continues to slim its pointers and will increase the crackdown on “dangerous actors.”

Ben Fisher (VP of Advertising, Regular Demand)

Krystal Taing

For 2020, I predicted an increase within the significance of user-generated content material and engagement. We did see parts of this such because the impression of opinions on native rating. As we glance to 2021, I see the traits of native search leaning in direction of data and comfort. Shoppers need to know the whole lot a few services or products previous to visiting a retailer or making a cellphone name. Search engines like google and yahoo will proceed to construct instruments to help this and types and search entrepreneurs are going to allow this.

The shift we noticed in client conduct in 2020 with options like reside stock, a number of ordering and supply strategies, and digital providers, will mature into 2021. These gained’t be a aggressive play, however a client expectation.

For Google My Enterprise particularly, I think about they may proceed to discover methods to bridge the hole with e-commerce in addition to carry extra instruments to help digital providers. 

Krystal Taing  (Options & Strategic Partnerships, Uberall)

Blake Denman

With posts beginning to present within the ‘Discover’ tab, we must always see extra emphasis on full-funnel content material advertising and marketing in posts.

Getting in entrance of potential prospects in direction of the highest of the funnel will assist get them conversant in a model and, due to personalization, assist backside of the funnel queries rank greater when it issues.

Google will monetize Google My Enterprise extra. The sluggish rollout of the Google Assured Program will speed up and let companies get their very own Google Assured badge with out taking part in LSAs.

Blake Denman (Founder, RicketyRoo)

I feel Google will proceed to make modifications to the Google My Enterprise pointers as a way to accommodate totally different enterprise fashions —Telehealth is a good instance. Presently, the rules say it’s essential to make in-person contact with prospects to qualify for a list. Google has opened this rule up throughout the pandemic to accommodate this new well being mannequin.

So the query is whether or not or not this can proceed into the longer term as soon as the pandemic is over. I feel it’ll. I additionally assume we are going to see extra e-commerce fashion native enterprise fashions being accommodated within the GMB mannequin.

Colan Nielsen (VP of Native Search, Sterling Sky)

Jason Brown

I see a dramatic shift coming in Google ranks in GMB. There’ll now not be an emphasis on the GMB title. Google will de-emphasize it in an effort to curtail the lead era spam and key phrase stuffing. Google will as an alternative use different, extra vital indicators, such because the age of the GMB itemizing, the web site, and different finest practices. Google posts will proceed to be a non-ranking issue similar to geo-tagging images.

Jason Brown (Founder, Review Fraud)

Monetized Google My Enterprise

Final 12 months, one in all our professionals (hats off, Andrew!) accurately predicted that we would start to see the long-standing GMB pay-to-play rumors come to fruition. As GMB’s $50/month upgraded listings take a look at took the native search engine marketing group by storm, is that this one thing we will count on to see extra from within the new 12 months?

The Google badge for Google My Enterprise pages is beginning to seem in sure classes and I predict as companies begin to pay the month-to-month price extra classes will open up. As hopeful as we have been final 12 months with spam reducing, I hope with the month-to-month price that this can assist dilute the Google My Enterprise guideline violators and permit the rule-following companies to take the lead. 

Crystal Horton (Digital Account Supervisor, Accelerate Marketing)

Niki Mosier

My ideas for 2021 are that we’ll undoubtedly see Google proceed to roll out options for GMB. This 12 months we noticed Google pivot fairly shortly with Covid-19 associated options just like the Covid submit sort and expanded attributes for supply and pickup. We additionally noticed the small rollout of the $50 Google Assure program which I wouldn’t be shocked to see expanded within the coming months. Total, as proximity search will get much more slim, specializing in sending all the appropriate indicators with location-specific content material shall be as vital as ever.

Niki Mosier (Head of search engine marketing, Two Octobers)

Andy Simpson

Now Native Search Adverts (LSAs) have lastly rolled out, 2021 will see Google My Enterprise promote the upgraded enterprise profile. For $50/month GMB will add the Google assured badge (inexperienced icon) to your itemizing and again providers what you are promoting supplies with the Google Assure. How this can have an effect on GMB rankings, upgraded vs normal, we will have to attend and see however one factor it would do is assist cut back the quantity of GMB spam — upgraded listings may power spam to the underside and out of the 3-pack.

Andy Simpson (Senior search engine marketing Specialist, Digital Law Marketing)

Dan Foland

In 2021, I predict that Google goes to proceed monetizing GMB and native search. For instance, in 2019 Google sent out a survey to GMB users asking if (and the way a lot) customers would pay for sure “premium” options. Google is at the moment testing a paid mannequin providing a Google Assured badge on enterprise profiles, amongst different options. I count on that Google will roll this out or one thing comparable in 2021 whereas they proceed monetizing native search.

Dan Foland (search engine marketing Director, Postali)

Native Providers Adverts

2020 introduced with a lot of changes to Google My Business, however much more outstanding have been Local Services Ads, which took the highlight. There have been loads of modifications to the favored paid choice, however what extra can we count on from it within the coming 12 months?

I’d predict that subsequent 12 months Google will make an aggressive push to get Native Service Adverts expanded to many different verticals.  I count on it to hit the insurance coverage trade, automotive trade, and the healthcare trade subsequent. I feel these advertisements can doubtlessly decrease the quantity of clicks that we see for the native pack as they proceed to look and function rather a lot like natural listings. 

Pleasure Hawkins (Proprietor, Sterling Sky)

Ben Fisher

Google will proceed to spend money on Native Providers Adverts and proceed to develop this system. I predict that the standard of LSA leads will even go down as extra retailers become involved and spam this system. 

Ben Fisher (VP of Advertising, Regular Demand)

carrie hill

Proper now we’re seeing opinions on Native Providers Adverts come by individually from opinions on a enterprise’s GMB itemizing. They ultimately appear to merge and most (if not all) opinions are proven on the LSA web page, however the LSA opinions don’t all the time come by to the GMB itemizing opinions.

My prediction is Google goes to determine how one can merge these into one system, however label the opinions that are available as a part of the Native Providers Adverts as “verified” not directly — as a result of the lead got here by the LSAs and is “Screened” or “Verified”.  The present system is a bit messy, doesn’t all the time join, and freaks purchasers out when their LSA profiles present zero opinions for his or her enterprise, whereas their GMB itemizing exhibits X variety of opinions for that enterprise.  When will it occur? I don’t know, however I feel one thing important will occur with this method someday in 2021!

Carrie Hill (Native Search Analyst & Group Supervisor, Sterling Sky)


I feel Google will proceed to attempt to monetize native, particularly with the shift in client conduct because of the pandemic. I feel there shall be an enlargement of LSAs (or some comparable type of advert), and enlargement of a “Google trusted” sort of program, and doubtlessly a paid inclusion of merchandise in GMB (we’re already seeing intensive exams of this in automotive). GMB will all the time be free, however the actually cool stuff that helps you stand out will seemingly be extra of a pay-for-play scenario.

Greg Gifford (VP of Search, SearchLab)

Zero-click Search

What felt like a giant phenomenon final 12 months doesn’t appear to be fairly so excessive on our consultants’ radars this 12 months. That mentioned, with the introduction of GMB’s direct edit, can we count on extra emphasis to be positioned on in-SERP actions than ever earlier than?

Ben Fisher

Zero Click on search would be the focus of 2021. Moreover, to maintain you on search even longer, I feel the direct edit expertise’s ongoing enchancment will proceed.

Ben Fisher (VP of Advertising, Regular Demand)

Maps Spam

What would a neighborhood search engine marketing piece be with out at the least some speak of spam? Properly, we’ve acquired lots for you right here. Will it enhance or may it presumably worsen? Our professionals chime in to speak all issues #StopCrapontheMap.

Gyi Tsakalakis

Like many people predicted final 12 months, in 2021 I predict that spam will proceed to be an enormous drawback in native search, significantly with respect to Google My Enterprise. Actually, as I sit right here as we speak on December 7, 2020, all three native pack listings for “automobile accident lawyer,” comprise keyword-stuffed enterprise names.

Moreover, opposite to statements from Google’s PR staff, at the least two of the standard localized natural listings comprise wealthy assessment snippets generated from structured knowledge from self-serving opinions on the corporations’ pages. I predict that for those who proceed to blindly observe the recommendation of Google’s PR staff you’ll stay at a aggressive drawback in native search.

Gyi Tsakalakis (Founder, AttorneySync)

Tim Capper

Lead gen spam is uncontrolled even reaching the UK and AUS with reporting and takedown being exceptionally poor. I’ll throw the spam staff a crumb and say that Covid performed a small half within the sluggish response to the rise in spam. API loopholes are nonetheless being exploited and no ‘dangerous’ deal with databases outdoors of the US on the playing cards.

With the good thing about some Product Professional perception, I’m extra optimistic for 2021 with GMB tackling spam, particularly SAB spam. Sadly don’t get your hopes up outdoors of the US simply but. LSA has launched within the UK however we nonetheless haven’t seen any reside listings. Regardless, get your relevant purchasers signed up now prepared for rollout.

Tim Capper (Native search engine marketing Guide, On-line Possession) 

I predict that Google will make a big change in its effort to fight maps spam. This 12 months we noticed a rise in suspensions of each legit and spam GMBs. I feel we are going to proceed to see Google flip this dial up sometimes as a way to proceed the struggle. However I additionally assume Google will do one thing new to fight the issue. Dial down the rating weight attributed to the enterprise identify? Maybe. A man can dream, proper?

Colan Nielsen (VP of Native Search, Sterling Sky)

Andrew Cock-Starkey Optimsey

I’m undecided if it’s simply the 12 months we’ve had in 2020 addling my mind or simply making me outrageously optimistic however… I feel a reckoning is coming. A reckoning for Google Maps spammers.

We’ve all seen #StopCrapOnTheMap and equal elements hilarious and horrifying examples that make it onto maps. This isn’t search for Google, particularly when a few of these areas are ‘drug rehab’ facilities and the like… when in actual fact they’re not and are (at finest) lead gen fronts.

A few of the examples are outrageous and egregious and there’s a rising swell of individuals getting upset by it, not least the ‘free labor’ Google will get to struggle their spam drawback within the form of native search engine marketing of us and their Product Consultants.

Google has the aptitude and the know-how to make massive strides in bettering this and at a stroke may assist struggling small enterprise house owners, rating political factors (which given the variety of courtroom and anti-trust circumstances coming their method would assist!), and appease native SEOs and Product Consultants. Win-win, proper?

Or possibly optimism has gotten the higher of Optimisey this 12 months…

Andrew Cock-Starkey (Founder, Optimisey)

Dan Foland

In 2021, GMB spam goes to proceed to be an issue. My hope is that Google pays extra consideration and dedicates extra sources to cleansing up spam in GMB, however I’m undecided that it’s a prime precedence for them.

Dan Foland (search engine marketing Director, Postali)

On-line Evaluations

As the second most vital native search rating issue, it’s no shock that opinions ought to stay entrance of thoughts all through 2021. Our consultants talk about how opinions would possibly acquire much more prominence within the coming 12 months.

Amanda Jordan

I predict for 2021, status administration will proceed to be an enormous issue for native efficiency. Along with opinions persevering with to be a rating issue, I wouldn’t be shocked if Google made assessment responses a a lot greater deal. This will embody the variety of assessment responses turning into a rank think about itself or extra assessment administration choices inside the GMB platform. I additionally count on to see extra attributes to be added for medical and retail enterprise classes.

Amanda Jordan (Director of Native Search, Locomotive Agency)

Shane Barker

Evaluations will change into a crucial native search rating parameter. So, it’s time to optimize your GMB itemizing, maybe by including a messaging characteristic to it. You may as well give attention to different tier 1 directories and niche-specific directories. Should you actually need to step up your assessment recreation, you’ll be able to create standardized assessment responding templates or use assessment administration instruments. It’s also smart to learn between-the-lines of opinions to achieve deeper buyer insights.

Shane Barker (Cofounder, Attrock)

Hyperlinks and Hyperlink Constructing

Hyperlink constructing has stood the take a look at of time in relation to serving to companies rank in search outcomes, however how can constructing related hyperlinks assist native companies in 2021?

Blake Denman

Hyperlinks will nonetheless be vital however businesses and SMBs are going to shift increasingly more in direction of pure native hyperlinks reasonably than counting on third-party metrics to find out the worth of a hyperlink. Entity constructing, entity leeching, entity optimization, entity sculpting, no matter you need to name it’ll begin gaining popularity on the native stage.

Blake Denman (Founder, RicketyRoo)


In the case of native, issues can change fairly shortly. What do you consider our consultants’ native search engine marketing and Google predictions? Can we count on to see paid-for GMB profiles come to life? Will assessment responses acquire much more significance as a rating issue? And the large query: will Google lastly put a cease to crap on the map?! (No shade Google, we all know you’re engaged on it!)

Whether or not you agree or not, we need to hear your individual search predictions for the approaching 12 months! Share your 2021 native search engine marketing prediction with us in the comments below.

Stephanie Newton

Stephanie is chargeable for managing BrightLocal’s group outreach and engagement, in addition to producing and managing content material to assist inform and educate the native search engine marketing group.

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