The 2 Most Important Posts in Local Search

There are 2 local search posts that taken together give us the necessary information to start making good advertising decisions. They provide practical information that can be used immediately to attract the majority of local searchers in your area to your site. And then how to implement a strategy to help convert them. In short they give the “what” and “how” for a local online advertiser.

On What Sites Should a Local Business Advertise?

The first of the important posts answers this question, it is from
comscore, unfortunately the information from the post disappeared. So here it is:

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There are a ton of posts on the most searched sites and the most searched local sites, but this is the only one I’ve found that combines and ranks them both together. If anyone knows of another, please let me know.

The data is a year old now but I believe the information is still very relevant and with this in hand you can pretty easily figure out what it would take to give yourself the opportunity to come up in 90% of the local searches for your industry. And that is what you want.

In fact, you can add up the percentages of the first 6 sites and you’re better than 9 out of 10.

These sites are also somewhat intertwined; the Time Warner Network is AOL and they get their search results from Google and a click on the Yellow Page Icon on their home page will take you to Yellowpages.com. A click on the Yellow Page Icon on MSN will take you to Superpages.com and the sponsored results on MSN local are also taken from Superpages.com ppc ads. So effectively you can advertise on just 5 sites and get comprehensive coverage on the web.

What Are The Most Important Components of Local Search Strategy?

The next most important post was written by Greg Sterling for Search Engine Watch and talks about how local searchers behave following their choice of portal. So this picks up right the first one leaves off.

Let’s examine the most important points and the take-aways from this critical information.

51% of Local Searches will include a regional term and 49% won’t. (paraphrased)

Take-away: When doing paid advertising on Search Engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN, you need to set up 2 seperate campaigns. One national campaign that targets keyphrases + regional terms and one that is geo-targeted and includes only the keyphrases.

23% used a specific business name

Take-away: Use your business name as part of your <title tags> and buy the keyword for your name in your ppc campaign.

19% used a specific service term to search (example – “root canal”)

Take-away: Don’t use a ‘Services Page’; have a different page for each of your services and include the name of the service and the regional term in your Title tags for organic search. And buy these long-tail phrases in your ppc campaign and direct the landing page to the most appropriate page for that keyphrase.

Conversions came after a second round of searches. (Latent conversion)

Take-away: provide a way for your user to easily bookmark your site. I took the additional step of providing an offer that could only be redeemed by email. By doing it this way I manage to get in their email inbox with a coupon. When they are ready to purchase the service later, I am the only one in the email inbox. Here is an example for a garage door company in Orlando.

68% of conversions will likely come from phone, 16% said they would use email to contact the business and 11% said they would contact using an online form. (paraphrased)

Take-away: Have all three of these contact options on your site.

89% of respondents found search to be “somewhat effective” or “very effective

Take-away: With local search providing a “satisfying experience” it’s just going to continue to get bigger and more important.

These 2 posts together tell us where to advertise on the web and help develop a strategy for using these sites most effectively. That’s pretty good for less than 20 minutes reading and that is why these are the 2 most important posts in local search.

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