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|On the Scene|
|Thursday, October 14, 2010|
At the SEMpdx monthly event for October, the topic was "Location, location, location" and the presenter was David Mihm. Local search is a topic that didn't exist just a few years ago, but now 20% of all Google queries are local searches, and that percentage doesn't even include smartphone searches, which are local by default.
According to Wikipedia, "Local search is the use of specialized Internet search engines that allow users to submit geographically constrained searches against a structured database of local business listings." In plain English, local search is simply search relevant to the user based on where they are located. Here in Portland, if I search for Chinese restaurants, I most likely am looking for some takeout that is relevant to me, and the top search result (perhaps the most famous Chinese restaurant in New York City or San Francisco's Chinatown) would not matter to me. This is where local search comes in.
Even those with no knowledge of search marketing have probably noticed the local results next to a map on Google when you search for a restaurant, chiropractor or plumber near your area. These are local search results, and they are driven by a unique algorithm in comparison to regular search results. Regular search results depend more on topic keywords about your business, while local search results depend more on a business's location. Since the local results are now shown at the top of a Google search query page, the traditional results barely show. Mihm says we are starting to see the beginning of a trend in which local results are replacing regular/organic search results.
"Younger populations steadily rely on search engines, dismissing print directories when researching local businesses," according to SEMpdx. The primary source of local business information for someone age 18-24 is 45% likely to be a search engine and only 9% likely to be a print Yellow Pages or White Pages directory. In comparison, someone 65+ is 43% likely to consult a print resource and only 22% likely to search online for their information.
So what does this mean for marketing a business that provides local services or goods? You need to be aware of the growing importance of local search and there are a few things you can do to make your website rank higher in these local results.
For example, one of the first things you can change is claiming your Google "place page." (Simply go to google.com/places and follow the easy directions.) The local search results to the right of a Google map mentioned earlier will link to a business's place page. Google wants to keep the first click for themselves-the local result used to go to a business's homepage, but now takes searchers to the place page Google creates with all their knowledge about a particular business. By taking ownership of the place page, it is possible to make sure all the information about your business is up-to-date.
Local Search Tips:
Obvious on-page factors:
Not so obvious on-page factors:
Where local search is headed:
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Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department
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