More Local Search Analytics

I discovered Mongoose Metrics a few weeks back and I’m surprised by how much I was missing. I was blind and now can see.

On one of the sites I manage, I segmented the traffic sources and used separate phone numbers to track and test the different sources of traffic. So, when the phone rings I can tell if it was from organic or PPC… and for PPC I can tell if a geo-modifier was used. And obviously, when the contact form is used I can get it down to the keyword level.

Because it is a small local site, it is difficult to draw any “significant” conclusions this soon, but even after a short time I have gained some interesting insights.

The site has had a total of 197 visitors since April 2nd, when the test began, so about 22 days.

155 of those visitors came from organic traffic, 30 from PPC Traffic that included a geo-modifier and 12 from PPC containing short keyphrases (1-3 words) that did not include a geo-modifier. During this time we recorded 22 conversions, which I defined as contact by email or phone call.

22 Conversions – 12 were by phone call and 10 used the contact form.
-The contact form was used a higher % of time than one might expect.

The organic traffic converted at a rate of 12%… 19 contacts/155 Visitors.
-If I took out the 17 image searches this conversion rate really starts looking good!

PPC traffic converted at 10% when the geo-modifier was present… 3 contacts/30 visitors.
-The 3 contacts were by phone call… which leads to a developing theory – Adword users may be less likely to use a contact form.

PPC traffic with no geo modifier – 0 contacts / 12 visitors.
-Although the results are not statistically significant it appears that the shorter the keyphrase the more expensive the click and the less likely it is to convert.

The number of words in the keyphrase that led to the 9 email conversions were as follows: 6, 4, 5, 7, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5. All of which contained a geo-modifier. Paying more for a one word phrase, does not seem like a good idea, especially considering a mark up of nearly 40% for some 1-word queries.

There are so many more cool things that I’ve discovered, that I will share in coming posts as the data keeps coming in. And yes, for research sake, I will continue paying for the short keyphrases, at least until the study becomes statistically significant. And no, the client is not paying for them… at least not my client.

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8 Responses to More Local Search Analytics

  1. Pingback: Internet Marketing for Plastic Surgeons - Less Scary than You Think | Website Promotion is not Voodoo

  2. earlpearl says:

    Nice research, Tim. I read this when you first published it and reread it today, in that I’m looking at hard data for two businesses.

    I’d love to find out about more of your data think I’ll take a look at this product/service.

    Of interest. We get significant traffic, conversions and sales for search terms that are generic wherein the ppc ad has geo modifiers. I wouldn’t think of running an ad of this sort w/out the geo modifier.

    I’ll be posting a bit at refugee with regard to stats.


  3. Thanks for stopping by… I’m very interested right now in learning how to minimize the cost per contact. And the phone tracking helps because I don’t want to sacrifice volume for cost necessarily. Finding that sweet spot is the goal.

    Looking forward to the post at Seo Refugee

  4. earlpearl says:

    Tim: its going to take me a lot of time to go thru conversions as my analytics aren’t strong on breaking it down and/or grouping things…but the conversion analysis wherein it relates to number of words in a search is pretty right on imv.

    I also sense that having an authoritative one map sitting at the top of a page is a huge, huge boon to traffic.

    That authoritative one map is tough to get though. If you recall, the denver flowers scenario from last december (reference either refugee or mike’s blog to get a feel for the topic) wherein Lehrer’s florist had an authoritative one map for the phrase denver flowers. well it no longer has that map posisition…but is listed with 9 other florists.

    Interesting change with mother’s day approaching.

    In any case, my business has a one box map…and it looks to me like it has been a boon to traffic.

  5. earlpearl says:


    I have a data base of slightly over 2300 contact conversions from the last ten months.

    A large number are not going to relate directly to searches…but of those that do I’ll go back over them.

    Of interest, While many of course reflect long tail search phrases with geo modifiers, many don’t.

    They reflect a simple version of the business service without a geo modifier. I’m always stunned by this. The vast majority of those searches reacted to ppc ads run on a geographical basis. The ads have a geo descriptive term in the ad…to give more specifity to the search for the industry term w/out the geo phrase.

    I guess it just reflects on how many people search for something local without a geo descriptive term.

    Greg Sterling has reported on this a number of times. Similarly he has reported on how brand name searches….don’t reflect a geo description….but the majority of purchases for items and brand name products are purchased locally.

    With regard to the geo oriented phrases, I’m simply stunned by the number of different phrases searchers use. Its starteling.


  6. Thanks for stopping by again Dave… it is interesting that at second glance you found many conversion for the term w/o the geo-modifier, as I had my first conversion for such a term 2 nights ago. Not horrible considering it only took 15 clicks at a cost of $21.74 to get it. I’m happy I have the phone tracking set up as this was a call, I would’ve missed it otherwise.

    I found one other thing recently that is very interesting… despite the myriad of words that searchers use I was able to find a single form of the word that was present in over 90% of conversions by email.

    What’s more interesting is how I found it…

    I was using MSN’s keyword tool, which I like, and was going through the results after entering a generic search term. And the results were a mish mash of every form of the word until… the term was searched with a geo-modifier… once the geo-modifier was present, one word was used nearly exclusively. When I went back and checked the analytics I found that word in either singular or plural in nearly every conversion.

    I have since paused other terms that were costing me money and not generating calls until I have time to think of a strategy.

    The take away from this for me at least is that when I am beginning to strategize what my most important keyphrases are that I will use a keyword tool and see if i can spot a pattern when the term is accompanied by a geo modifier, I don’t care what town or city is searched, only whether a pattern is present.

  7. earlpearl says:


    I hate being specific on the web. I’ve had competitors find some of my stuff.

    Regardless, I’ve always had significant traffic on the most critical industry keywords without geo modifiers.

    The site has ranked real well for the industry terms at Yahoo for years and pretty well in G and MSN. In fact it is #1 at Y now and has been for most of the time at Y.

    Now I also run ppc ads in G for the industry term. The ads are titled with the industry term and the relevant geo description.

    Those generate lots of hits and lots of conversions.

    In fact, I didn’t hard count the conversion data. It is too long….too divergent, and too representative of the long tail.

    I did note though, that there are lots of conversions on 2 word phrases without geo modifiers. Those are coming from organic traffic and ppc ads.

    There are lots of versions of 3-7 word phrases, in which there is a geo modifier and a variation of the 2 word industry phrase.

    Over time I’ve identified some phrases that convert dramatically worse than I would of thought, and have found that the best conversions come off variations of phrases that are closest to the core words and the 2 best keyword pairs for the industry.


  8. earlpearl says:


    In review, I stopped counting after a while.

    Primary phrases for conversions included the following:

    2 word conversions without geo modifiers. Many of these are the results of ads run on a geo basis with geo phrases as part of the ad that responds to a typically 2 word business phrase.

    3-7 word phrases with a variation on the 2 word industry phrase and some geo description.

    The conversion data mirrored traffic in this sense.

    The most popular phrase is a 2 word industry phrase.

    The first word of the 2 word phrase generally has 4 versions.

    The 2nd word has about 12-15 alternatives including singulars and plurals.

    Of the 2nd word the 2 most popular for traffic showed the most for conversions. When I say 2, I should say 4 as they each had singular and plural versions.

    Of the geo modidified terms, they were split fairly evenly over 3 main jurisdictions including 2 states and a city.

    Of interest, there were enough conversions of town names and city names that it really justifies itself for keyword expansion within the content of the site. Besides the state and major city names I had ample conversions for individual town and county names with a variation on the 2 word business term.

    There was no overwhelming dominance of any terms, and in fact conversions were fairly consistent with prevalence of terms for traffic.