How Local Businesses Reach Mobile Searchers
Why Local Search is So Important to Local Businesses Today
For local businesses, it’s become increasingly imperative to focus more energy on addressing local search in an overall Internet marketing strategy, especially for those businesses who serve a local service area such as restaurants, dry cleaners, doctors, accountants and lawyers.
Local Search Example on Google Search – “Lawyers, Albany NY”
As we can see from graph below, previously published on Search Engine Land, based on the local search and mobile search data released by the online ad network Chitika, 43% of Google searches are local searches. This is one reason why Getting found in local searches has never been more important to local businesses. Understanding that Google has maintained a 2/3 majority of the US search market for several years highlights the importance of this statistic. Still wonder why Google Maps and Android were central to Google’s strategic vision?
For Bing and Yahoo! who share a portion of the remaining 1/3 of the US search market, the percentage of local searches is less at 25% for each, but significant if you consider that 1 in 4 searches conducted on those search engines are local searches.
Local Search Traffic by Search Engine
Local Search Breakdown – Mobile Search versus Non-mobile
What’s interesting is that mobile searches as a percentage of local searches, at least on Google, is growing in parallel with the increase of local searches. In fact, according to the Chitika Study, 74% of local searches on Google were performed from a mobile device.
Often times mobile searches are from search users shopping for a product or service while on the go, which can typically be very close in time to a transaction. For Yahoo! and Bing, the percentages of local searches that were performed on a mobile device were much lower, at 17% and 7% respectively.
We can see from another 2013 Local Search study, done in partnership by 15miles and Localeze – conducted by comScore, that the trend of local search on mobile phones and tablets is steadily on the rise as more local searches are initiated from smartphones by users shopping online while on the go.
The study found that in only 8 months, the number of mobile searches increased 21%. In Dec 2012, the number of searches from mobile phones was just over 113 million and 39 million for tablets.
Another aspect of the local search study was to examine which devices are used at various stages of a local business search including:
- in the beginning,
- in the middle,
- at the end,
- throughout the entire process.
Mobile phones are used more after a local business search has begun
The study found that mobile phones are used by 69% of those surveyed after the beginning of the local business search has begun as compared to 67% for tablets and 47% for PCs/Laptops.
The data shows that mobile devices are used further along in a buying process which makes them an opportune device to target by marketers trying to influence purchase decisions closer to the transaction. That’s one of several reasons why mobile marketing matters so much to local businesses today.
That data is in alignment with the findings of another study which showed 70% of mobile searches were found to lead to action on a website within just 1 hour of the search Source: BizReport.
Gaining an Understanding of Local Search
When you want to get somewhere, sometimes it’s helpful to know where you’ve been. Below is a video of one of the most well-known, trusted and respected local search experts in the industry, David Mihm of SEOmoz presenting on the Evolution of the Local Algorithm to provide viewers with some local search context, past, present and future.
David covers how local search and the algorithms that drive the local search results has evolved over the last decade, including local search signals that influence search results.
Towards the end of the video, David speculates where he thinks local search might be going in the future. Armed with this knowledge, the viewer is primed and well-prepared to immerse themself in a panel discussion with top local search experts.
Local Search Expert Panel Discussion
What better way to gain local search insights than to hear from an expert panel comprised of some of the most well-respected local search experts in the industry including:
- Max Minzer (http://www.maxminzer.com/about/)
Local SEO – Max Impact
[Skip 1:02 to 2:47as the audio of the speaker, Max Minzer, the hangout organizer and moderator, was muted].
The local search experts featured in this Max Impact Google+ hangout answered a fairly broad set of local search questions during the Q&A portion of the hangout. The questions answered are the types of questions that an agency performing local search engine optimization or a local business trying to gain more visibility in the local search results might have.
Online Reviews Influence Purchases
According to a recently released survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 90% who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86% said buying decisions were influenced by negative reviews. Therefore, the data suggests that customer reviews can cut strongly in both directions.
Source: Marketing Land
The survey cited was sponsored by Zendesk in the early part of 2013 and includes responses from 1,046 participants who were from the United States and had experienced a recent customer service issue.
Local search has never been more important for local businesses to get found online, by their customers and prospective customers, who are searching for relevant products and services while on the go from their smartphones and in record numbers.
If you have watched the two videos in this post, you will have a reasonable understanding and perspective on what it takes to get a business represented in the local search results to reach mobile users shopping and dining on the go.
Given that there are so many resources to gain local citations (a concept covered by Darren Shaw in the hangout video), it is critical that Internet marketers and local businesses managing their online presence, find resources to help them prioritize which local listings to create based on potential impact/ROI as it is not practical or affordable to claim all possible local listings now available online.
Believe it or not, the priority of which local listing sites to create is location-dependent. For instance, certain local citations may be more valuable for a business located in Seattle, WA than for a businesses located in Albany, NY. A citation’s value is also dependent on industry. For instance, to restaurants, Yelp is a critical listing to obtain as its reviews are often consulted by patrons while in the process deciding where dine out.
The one local listing that should be created by all local businesses is a Google+ Local Business Page. A Google+ local business page includes a business profile which will quickly become the cornerstone of businesses’ local search presence.
The profile should include, at a minimum, the business:
These three pieces of information are referred to in the industry as the NAP and also called a citation and are typically augmented with category and other critical business information.
Perhaps most importantly, a Google+ Local Business listing provides a place for customers to leave reviews. Google+ local pages also aggregate reviews from other sites. In our experience, 6 customer reviews on Google+ Local Business profiles represent a tipping point for enhanced representation of a profile in the local search results.
These customer reviews have been shown to have a significant impact on customer purchases which many can relate to from their own personal experiences of reading online reviews and knowing how those reviews have influenced our purchases.
The hangout video covers the right and wrong way to go about soliciting and collecting these reviews from customers in a way that does not jeopardize your investment in local search optimization.
Now armed with this local search knowledge, go forth and be found! If you leave this post with more questions than answers, then please contact eBiz ROI for a free consultation to get your questions answered and receive valuable local search insights to grow sales and maximize ROI.