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Happy 2018!
What are your goals for your business this year? If you’re a local business, make sure you are staying on top of your search results and information on your Google My Business listing.
Download this quick checklist to kick your local marketing off to a great start in 2018.
We’ve already seen some major changes in Local Search and anticipate that 2018 will be sure to be keeping everyone on their toes.

GOOGLE LOCAL
• Google makes 14 changes to review guidelines 
Updates include the much-anticipated line under “Conflict of Interest” clarifying that it is against guidelines for ex-employees to leave negative reviews as well as specifically stating that you are not allowed to solicit reviews from customers in bulk.  See all 14 here.
Analyzing Review Snippets in the Local Pack
Holy wow am I excited that someone did this! While the results were inconclusive, like most of trying-to-figure-out-any-Google-algorithm is, the research that Brian over at Integrated Digital Marketing did was pretty spot on. Comparing several industries and cities and looking for what types of reviews are typically shown as snippets in the local pack. If you want to geek out on some Local SEO fun stuff, check this post out.
Pay to Play Local Search will be Increasing Thanks to Google Assistant 
Well, we can’t say that we’re surprised.
When local services was launched on Google Assistant, users would get a result saying something to the effect of “we have found a house cleaner 1.5 miles away.” and now users get the option of a list of providers with the paid placements being among the top provided.
Photo courtesy of Maurizio Pesce

LOCAL BUSINESS NEWS
• Major retail store closures expected in 2018 
“More than 12,000 stores are expected to close in 2018 — up from roughly 9,000 in 2017, according to Cushman & Wakefield.”
The trend of online purchases continues to cut into retail stores around the country. It’s sad to see so many stores closing. While this post is mostly about big chain stores if you are a retailer, what can you do to ensure your doors stay open?
And on that note:
• Case Study: How a Brooklyn Retailer Brings E-Commerce Shoppers In-Store
One of the big takeaways here provided that extra element of service. In their case, they accept returns from a select number of online retailers through a program called Happy Returns. It’s been bringing them a great amount of foot traffic and allows them to interact with shoppers in a way they weren’t able to before.

GOOGLE
Google Confirms Mid-December search ranking algorithm updates 
If you noticed any changes in your rankings this last month, you were not alone.
Google announced that they rolled out an update in mid-December. So far, SEO professionals are speculating that this update had to do with mobile ranking as well as schema. Time will tell if there is anything that needs to be adjusted at this point, but we will be watching closely.