How Will Incognito Mode Impact Your Local SEO?
Google Maps recently announced an incognito mode for direction searches, meaning that those searches will no longer be saved to the user’s profile, and ads or recommendations based on recent destinations will not be shown to those who choose to activate this mode. Businesses which have spent considerable time and effort in local SEO are understandably worried about the impact this announcement will have on sales and marketing goals. To understand how incognito mode and other privacy settings will affect your company, you must first understand what these options mean and how Google Maps already impacts local optimization efforts.
What Is Incognito Mode?
Searches that tend to bring up local companies, and their paid advertisements, include keywords such as city names, states and “near me.” Using locational data such as device GPS to display the relevant listings and approximate distances to each location. Due to the recent rise in online privacy concerns and target advertisements, Google and other online companies have made incremental changes to how user data is gathered and used. Search data used to be collected for all searches made on a browser, device or profile and could be sold to advertisers, used to target ads by the search engine, and analyzed to improve search engine efficiency. Privacy settings like incognito mode let users control their online privacy by opting-in to targeted marketing when they want.
How Does Maps Impact Local Optimization?
Google Maps is just starting to become an advertising platform for businesses, so the current impact on local SEO is minimal. Companies with active and well-maintained profiles in Google Business and who rank high in “near me” searches will tend to show up on Maps because their location is tied in with their other optimization efforts. As Google launches more advertising services on Maps and other applications, the user data from direction searches may become more critical to your rankings. However, new marketing tools should counter the effects of Incognito Mode while still allowing Google to respect users’ privacy concerns and compete with other Big Tech companies.
Local SEO is a good way for smaller businesses to stand out from large corporations while driving traffic to brick-and-mortar locations. Incognito Mode for Google Maps and other search engine applications does not save this data, or the search keywords, to the user’s profile, potentially impacting how companies optimize for local searches and the marketing tools Google offers these businesses.