Getting Familiar with SEO for Local Search: A Must for Every Business
Many of our customers are beginning to take more interest in Local Search, and with good reason. Of the 10 billion searches performed each month in the United States, over 40% of those have local intent (Getlisted.org). That’s 4 billion opportunities for people to potentially find your business if it ranks well in local results. For hotels, retail businesses, restaurants and many other businesses that do most of their work with local clients, ignoring local search optimization as part of their marketing efforts can be detrimental to their overall revenue.
What is Local Search?
A local search is query made within a search engine that contains a geographical constraint. Essentially, it is a search query made with a local focus by searchers who are trying to find a business near a specific location. For example, a user who lives in downtown Vancouver will most likely search for a restaurant in their area by entering a query like, “restaurants Vancouver” to help them locate one nearby.
In its first iterations, local search was only available as part of some specialized local search engines like Google Maps or Yahoo Local, but, since 2007, local search results have begun to appear for all queries in the major search engines including Bing, Yahoo and Google (the three search engines we’ll focus on in this post).
So why are these results now available for non-specialized search engines? The idea, according to Google’s Marisa Mayer, was to simplify searches since it was getting to the point that, “you almost need[ed] a search engine for all our search engines.” To improve the search process for the people using their search engine, Google (along with Bing and Yahoo) decided to blend its local search results with its regular results for a better, more simplified overall user experience.
Why is local search important for your business?
Local searchers are using the internet to find businesses in their area. People looking for a local business are using search engines to do so because they are the most convenient source of local information. If you’re not showing up in local results then you’re missing out on a large portion of your target audience. Keep in mind that many searches are no performed on mobile devices by people who are headed out shopping, looking for a place to eat or a specific service near them. These are engaged motivated buyers!
Almost half of search engine users search locally.
It was recently estimated that 40% of internet users are searching locally. With almost 10 billion searches performed a month in the United States alone, you have the potential to show up in the results of over 4 billion searches if your website is optimized effectively.
Local search is adapted specifically for local business
If you’re a business that earns most of its revenue from local clients, then it doesn’t really help you if you get found by searchers outside of your area. For example, If you own a restaurant, it doesn’t help you to be found under the generic keyword restaurant. Being found in such general terms isn’t worth the effort as the competition for business trying to rank high with those terms nation wide is huge (meaning it will be very difficult and expensive to show up on the first page of the search results), and most people outside of your area aren’t going to give you their business anyway.
On the other hand, it is possible to be found under “restaurant” if the searcher is located in your city (Currently only Google does this automatically) or if the searcher adds a location to his query (Google, Bing and Yahoo). If you rank well for local search results, then the people who would actually patronize your business are able to find you quickly and easily. Sounds good doesn’t it?
What search looks like in Google now
Since 2009, Google has begun using searchers’ IP addresses to guesstimate where the searcher is located so they can include local results for queries that don’t have any geographical information. You can often tell that you are getting specific local search results because the results return in 3 different formats: a “7-pack” or “3-Pack” formation or “blended” in with the regular results. There are several theories as to why there are multiple types of display (another of Google’s many mysteries), but most people believe it has something to do with search volume and intent.
“7-Pack” formation (“3-Pack” is similar but with 3 local search results instead of 7)
In Yahoo the local results are returned in a “10-Pack” formation as seen below.
Bing returns local search results in a “5-Pack” format with local results appearing at the top of the SERP.
Have we convinced you that local search is relevant for your business? If we have, make sure that you check out the 2nd part of this post in our next newsletter. It is on taking advantage of local search (specifically, how can you optimize your website for local search).