Local Search: Tips For Driving Buyers To Businesses

By 2016, there will be more local searches made on mobile devices than on PCs.  For any business with a physical location, each additional mobile search is already more valuable than a desktop one. 

According to Google, 70% of mobile local searches result in a consumer connecting with a business over the phone. And 66% actually visit the business in person.  Mobile searchers are buyers, and a marketer simply can’t expect that type of return on investment from a desktop campaign. 

If you’re responsible for marketing one or more locations for a small business or a national brand, it’s unlikely that you can organically rank at the top of the results for every related query or have the budget to pay for top placement for every search.  So where should you focus?

1.     Focus on mobile SEO and SEM, and make sure you are listed in mobile directories. You probably know that Google will be supplying the largest volume of mobile searches to your location and category.  But did you know that half of consumers report using apps to make local searches?  These apps provide reviews of contractors, pictures of restaurant menus and social data to recommend businesses.

If you’re revisiting your local search strategy, the first thing I’d do is go through every popular mobile app and search engine where a consumer might look for your services, and make sure you are listed with an accurate name and address.  To keep things current and to save time, consider checking out a listings service that can consistently update any errors for you.

2. Make it easy for consumers to find your contact information. Google’s first study on smartphone behavior listed, from top to bottom, the actions consumers took after looking up a business’s information.  The top three – calling a business, visiting a business and getting directions to that business – are fundamentally about consumers reaching out to contact you.

In addition to a phone number and address, consider including store hours and a description of your location (“between 5th and 6th Avenues across from Cinerama”).  A picture of your business can be tremendously helpful to consumers trying to find your storefront.

3. Be transparent with price, service and location – that’s what consumers want to know! Virtually every conversation on local phone calls from digital media is about price, service and location.  The takeaway: Be upfront about these things.  One of the biggest mistakes I see made in local search is setting false expectations with consumers.  If you’re going to bill your hotel as “conveniently located near the Empire State Building,” you’d better be a short walk away.  Consumers want local, specific questions answered, and the best policy is to be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably provide.

4. Know that foot traffic and conversations are the two new key performance indicators for local search. Unfortunately, Web analytics tools have historically done a poor job of providing metrics on the actions consumers take after local search.  The good news is that the bar for measurement is being raised.  Leaders in local search are very clearly adopting techniques to understand how consumers come to their doors and which keywords and channels lead to phone calls.   These are the winners in local search today.

People have been buzzing about the promise of local search for more than a decade.  Now that it’s finally driving buyers to businesses in a big way, the challenge for marketers is to home in on the areas that matter most.    

1 comment about "Local Search: Tips For Driving Buyers To Businesses".
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  1. Malcolm Lewis from RefGo, April 30, 2014 at 12:17 p.m.

    Hi John,
    Great post. I agree with all your comments. I suggest businesses also consider using someone like RefGo (my company) to create and publish a mobile-friendly, SEO-friendly, business profile page that focuses on customer reviews.

    Example (best viewed on your phone):

    It's a slightly different and complementary approach to how most vendors address online presence and reputation management for small businesses.
    Malcolm Lewis
    Founder/CEO RefGo

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