Imagine you’re in charge of Verizon’s marketing strategy. You’re trying to sell mobile devices on a national and global level. So, you invest in social media, commercials on all the major TV networks, Google and Facebook ads, etc. But you neglect to invest in local advertising or search. Verizon relies on local stores to serve and service their customers. If customers had to scroll to the third page of Google results just to find a Verizon store, they might go to Sprint. An example from my local community: We’ve not had a specialized running store in our town ever. When one threatened to crash our fair city, I was overjoyed.
Only one thing: their location was not prime. No tourists would wander in and a large number of runners would have to drive across town to patronize them.
If it weren’t for local search, nobody would ever find our local running store. And I hope they’re reading, because here are a few reasons why you should never neglect local search.
1. People are Hyper-Local
While city people like to brag about their massive commutes, most people actually don’t drive very far from home. 93% of consumers don’t drive more than 20 minutes for everyday shopping and needs.
Google research tells us that more than 1/3 of all searches are location-based. Google has restructured a large part of their search engine around local search.
Now, proximity isn’t going to be something you do much about once you’ve established a business. Even if it is one of the most important ranking signals for local search.
But, here’s what you do need to know. People aren’t using terms like “near me” anymore. I even tell my wife it’s silly and a waste of energy to type “near me” into Google.
This will mainly affect your keyword research. Local search still revolves around location names, but with Google getting better at gleaning context, you don’t want to overload your content with location names.
2. Neglecting Behavior Analysis Could Make You Miss the Mark
50% of all local searches result in in-store visits from leads. If you own a small business, this should compel you to focus on local search.
About 2/3 of all mobile users prefer brands who include some sort of local element in their app or website. And oddly, a majority of businesses don’t include a local element in their apps or websites. They don’t even claim their listing on most popular search engines either.
How is a customer supposed to find you if you are invisible online? Nobody uses the phone book anymore. It just sits in a drawer somewhere wishing to be read by a filibustering politician.
If you’re a healthcare professional, behavioral trends in your area could inform your local content strategy. Is flu season imminent? Preempt flu season by creating local content targeting anyone who might come down with the flu. Your content will be more effective if you understand current behavior and can predict future behavior.
Location-based statistics are easier to come by now with the advent of mobile technology. Reviews are one of the easiest ways to agreggate data about customers. What are they saying about your business? What are they eating at your restaurant? Whan are they coming to your store?
3. Nobody Will Come to Your Local Event
Even two years ago, it was exceedingly difficult to find local events on Google. Unless you lived in a major metropolis. And even then, it really depended on the effort a city put into their event advertising.
Google has seen the gap and they will raise us a new set of event search features. And they’re hoping to streamline the process of notifying customers and patrons of local events.
At the end of July in 2018, Google announced their plans to update their calendar and event search features. And they should be active within the month. While this is a little late to help people escape the heat this summer, it’s going to permanently change the future of local search.
They’re adding personal recommendations to the list as well. Since Google is already collecting behavioral data on searchers, applying that information to local event search is a logical next step.
Google will eventually use context to help you find events nearby. Typing in something like “free concert” will bring up local events near your location, especially on a mobile device.
How Do You Utilize This?
Even a running store could utilize the new event search features on Google. Set up social runs, running clinics, or even shoe sales events.
Of course, Google is going to get really good at distinguishing between sales-y events and social events. But until they do, you might be able to sneak a sale in there somewhere.
And Google knows that people don’t want to just stay on the Google website. They’ve learned their lesson from the search and answer feature. So, if you’re an SEO, you have no reason to worry about leads bouncing away before clicking your event links.
Of course, other platforms won’t be too happy. Facebook has cornered the event search market for a few years now. Often when I go to look for an event, I use Facebook.
How successful these new search features are depends on how much pushback Google gets from other companies. Will shady backroom deals tank the new features? Or will we see a new dawn in the local event market?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.