The Importance of Local Search

Fri 18 September 2009 14:17, Sam Murray

The Importance of Local Search

Following on from Lisa D Myers much talked about blogpost last week about a Norweigen agency selling Google Local Business Listings, I thought it would be wise to "strike whilst the iron is hot", "jump on the bandwagon" (or any other similar catchphrases) and highlight the importance of a local search strategy. If implemented correctly it can expand the scope of your brand and obtain a new branch of traffic.

 

Since local search was introduced it has opened up a new channel for organisations to interact with prospective clients.  Furthermore, the local search feature has created an opportunity to obtain traffic through much less effort than it takes to carry out a SEO campaign.

Local listings continue to dominate the search results and are constantly shown above the fold. These two factors are important as users search behaviour always dictates an innate desire to click the search results above the fold.  Behavioural research continues to show our eyes are drawn to visual content. So, by having a Google Local listing you are essentially positioning your service within a shop window, with neon lights around the display!!

Feng-GUI, apart from looking like an online version of the Feng Shui concept, is a tool which simulates human vision during the first 5 seconds of exposure to visuals, illustrating how effective a local listing can be to manipulate click distribution within a search result.

“The basic premise is that our visual attention is drawn to areas of high visual salience”

Feng_gui_test_heatmap

You can clearly see how much visual attention a local listing receives compared to the rest of the search result. Due to its dominance, a local listing can compliment or substitute organic search. In the short term, whilst your campaign to appear in the organic listings for competitive phrases is ongoing, a local business listing can be created in order to position your brand, and obtain the traffic you were missing out on. Once you have achieved a ranking on the first page, a local business listing can compliment your organic result, giving you two opportunities to catch the browser eye and convert browsers into visitors.

We have seen significant success with Google Local Business Listings, in fact for one of our clients traffic from Google LBL is the highest referring source of traffic (accounting for over 20% of the total visitors).  From our experience in tracking and analysing local search data we have found this form of targeting improves conversion rates, as users are actively searching for local services. However, a local business listings only really applies to your business if your search terms are likely to include a geographical location. For example hotels, couriers, labour related services, restaurants, bars and so on are ideal for Google Local. And it’s really easy to set up.

Lastly, the one thing that Google LBL doesn’t do very well is reporting on traffic generated via the LBL dashboard. I would highly recommend you manually implement Google Analytics tracking within your LBL campaign, it’s not very straight forward but it’s definitely worth the effort. We did a lot of research into successful tracking of Google LBL, and I wrote a blogpost explaining in detail how to do it and our experience here:  how to track Google local search Also worth reading is Martijn Beijk’s blogpost about Tracking of local search


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