Search Engine Marketing: Taking advantage of local search and local business listings
It’s a pretty safe bet that everyone understands the importance of search engine optimization for global search. But local SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) is something of a different story. Did you know Google estimates 20 percent of all searches now have a local intent? Have you taken any steps to address this shift in search behavior? If not, you are not alone.
While looking through the MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition, I found this interesting chart:
This is from the report:
Forty-three percent of organizations consider local search a critical or important factor for achieving search marketing objectives. Individuals and businesses are increasingly looking to local listings for shopping, restaurants, services, vendors and more. For these reasons (among others), appearing in local search results, which are listed at the top of the SERPs, can help a business stand apart from its competition.
What really stands out to me is that more than one quarter of the marketers we surveyed described local search as “not important” for search marketing objectives. That’s not even asking where local search fits into overall marketing objectives, just within SEM. To my mind, that is a large percentage of marketers overlooking a potentially lucrative area of search.
What you should know about local search
There are two areas of focus for local search marketing: local search optimization and local business listings.
The first step of any local search marketing effort should be claiming, customizing and enhancing the local business listing, such as a Google Place Page.
These listings are featured at the top of search engine results pages providing businesses that have secured the listing valuable search real estate. What’s amazing is that according to the SEO Search Benchmark Report, 41% of organizations haven’t claimed a local business listing, and another 22% aren’t sure if they have or haven’t claimed a listing.
This tactic is most effective for consumer marketing retailers, because many buyers are going to look for research and comparison information online while preferring to shop locally.
Local search optimization is using global SEO practices, such as keyword and key phrase optimization, to tailor the website to be found in local searches. Of course this is only worthwhile if the keywords or key phrases drive enough search volume to justify the optimization effort.
Tactics to improve local business listings
Here’s another chart from the SEO Search Benchmark Report with a group of tactics to improve local business listings:
As you can see, there are several tactics to utilize, although the majority of marketers only add a telephone number and optimize the listing with target keywords. Two of the stronger personalization tactics: adding an image and/or video are used by only 48% and 20% of marketers respectively.
Kaci Bower, lead author of the 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition, and Research Analyst, MarketingSherpa, says, “In terms of local search, a good portion of businesses that claim a local business listing do not fully optimize and enhance their local business listings with all the available options.”
She adds, “In other words, they are underutilizing the potential of local search simply because they do not do everything with it that they could.”
New Chart: How Effective is Local Search? (Members library)