This week we focus on the foundation for all local searches: location. From a consumer’s willingness to share his or her current location with companies to searching on a map, location is the foundation of what makes a search local.
Studies show location-based searches make up a significant piece of the entire search pie. Based on data from a May 2013 comScore study, about 2.7 billion Google search queries in the US carried a local intent.
Here are some compelling stats that show how location impacts the local advertising space:
20% of searches on Google are related to location. (Google)
74% of adult smartphone owners ages 18 and older say they use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location. (Pew)
This week we focus on the importance of small business websites when it comes to attracting local consumers. Studies consistently show that many SMBs don’t have a website, and those that do struggle with related activities including SEO, mobile optimization and formatting.
Here are some compelling stats that help put into perspective how websites are critical to any small business’ local strategy:
2 in 3 American and Canadian consumers indicate that a local business having a website affects their opinion of the business and whether or not to use it. (BrightLocal)
45% of US and UK SMBs said they don’t have a website, and in both cases only 6% of respondents with websites said they were mobile-optimized. (hibu)
59% of consumers visit a business’ website when conducting a mobile search. (Google/Nielsen)
40% of SMBs said they are going to increase their budgets for websites by 10-15% within the next 12 months. (Thrive Analytics)
More than 90% of SMB websites audited didn’t display a contact email address, and nearly half lacked a phone number on their homepage. (vSplash)
Be sure to check back next week for our next edition of Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week. Have a great weekend!
In recent weeks, Yahoo has made several major announcements affecting local search including the streamlining of Yahoo local business listings, integration of Yelp reviews in search results, and now, links to OpenTable for local restaurant reservations.
While consumers can already make OpenTable reservations via Google and Bing search engine results, Yahoo has given the online reservation tool significant prominence on its local results pages, as seen below.
Since CEO Marissa Mayer took the helm in 2012, Yahoo has grown to almost 800 million monthly users and over half are mobile users. With its recent updates and integrations, the search engine is on its way to once again becoming a major player in local. As former head of Google’s local business, Mayer has a strong background in the space, so expect even more to come from the company in the next several months.
Mayer is also setting the tone for another trend we are seeing in the local marketing space by investing heavily in acquisition. Yahoo has acquired over 30 start-ups since Mayer took over. From search to mobile and from start-ups to major platforms, we’ve seen unprecedented investment in the mobile, and inherently, local space.
It’s an exciting time in the local search space, and we hope you can join us as we analyze and explore the future of local at the 2014 Local Search Association Conference, April 27-29 in Huntington Beach, Calif. Register today and receive $200 off the registration price.
UPDATE: Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer announced a new partnership with Yelp on Friday of last week at an employee meeting. Yelp’s listings and reviews of local businesses will be incorporated into results on Yahoo’s search engine.
In addition, early last week, Yahoo announced that they have added a “noticeably larger map,” business photos and vertical specific business information to their local search results. According to their announcement, “this is another step towards a faster, more beautiful search experience.” Much like Google’s local search results, the update adds more emphasis on business photos.
The similarity to Google search results is no surprise considering Marissa Mayer’s long held position as head of Google’s local products before becoming the CEO at Yahoo.
The improved look and feel is directly related to the time Yahoo has spent on improving their business data and information around the world. The search giant has partnered with many local business data providers and this work is starting to pay off. For instance, just last year Yahoo partnered with Solocal Group (formerly PagesJaunes) to improve their local search results for French users.
The emphasis on local results across search engines continues to be ratings and reviews, but with more rich data sources, these engines can make searching locally a much more enjoyable experience.
Earlier this month, the Local Search Association held our first-ever “Think Tank” event in New York City. The gathering, which was the first in what will be an ongoing series in major U.S. media markets, is part of our new effort to bring together local advertising leaders on a more frequent basis to discuss new ideas and trends in our industry, as well as foster deeper relationships between partners and competitors alike.
The evening, which began with brief introductions, was followed by discussions by attendees about current and future opportunities in our industry.
While our conversations spanned numerous topics, below are several insights that grabbed our attention:
While location is the start of local advertising, there are countless other considerations to explore. The group discussed how the next phase of targeting will use data that shows consumer behavior and preference.
Word of mouth continues to be critical in local. Word of mouth is still one of the strongest influences for consumers on where to spend money locally. Local SMBs need help determining how to increase word of mouth with their marketing programs.
Display ads – like TV commercials – lead to consumer actions outside of clicks alone. Display ads lead to online searches, phone calls, and store visits, among other actions. The challenge we all face is how to successfully measure those actions.
Mobile usage isn’t confined to people on-the-go. In fact, a large share of mobile usage takes place within the home.
Consumers are hungry for a more “3D” local experience. Alice Hazen, National Client Partner at Yelp, noted that consumers want local search tools to “give me what I want (that I didn’t know I wanted), right at the moment I need it.” Consumers want – and expect – that local tools will anticipate their next moves and purchases.
Local involvement is key for larger retailors. Alice discussed that on Yelp, national/multi-location advertisers are more successful when store managers get involved and individually represent the company.
Most ads currently provide only one experience, when there is an opportunity to provide many more. Peter Minnium, Head of Digital Brand Initiatives at IAB, said that while our industry is good at targeting ads by audience and demographic, we miss a lot of other local cues. He noted that even though our industry has access to a growing amount of data, we haven’t seemed to figure out how to use all of it to our advantage.
Last Mile is everything that happens between targeting by location and consumer action. Peter discussed how local advertising today requires more context and data at each stage of the path to purchase in order to be successful.
Local businesses want face-to-face interactions with local advertising providers. Chris Travers, President and Co-Founder, UBL noted that when SMBs find out they can’t meet a sales person in person, they are immediately turned off.
I want to thank everyone who participated in our first “Think Tank” event. The feedback we received from the group was extremely positive. Many who attended enjoyed the opportunity to network and discuss relevant industry issues in an intimate local setting.
We’re already in the planning stages of our next event – this time in the Windy City of Chicago! – and looking at how to incorporate ways to improve the sessions so that they are as useful and productive as possible.
We’ll keep you updated on future “Think Tank” events, so stay tuned!
94% of all consumers have searched for local info. About half call or contact a store and just under 30% make a purchase. Here’s some tips from Google’s Brendon Kraham, director of global mobile solutions and product strategy, on how you can leverage location specific strategies to increase the effectiveness of your ads when allocating spend resources on Google AdWords.
Optimize for your customer’s locations. Adjust bids for Adwords for high and low performing areas. In other words, pay more for Ad results sent to mobile phones in specific locations where your customers are. Combine keywords + location to optimize the performance of your ads.
Increase foot traffic to your business. Bid in incremental amounts based on radial distance from your store to target consumers nearby.
Engage customers at places of interest. Adjust bids based on high performing venues e.g. at airports for travel related services.
A panel made up of Jeff Folckemer, president and CEO, LocalEdge and SVP, Hearst Newspapers; Jean-Philippe Gauthier, COO, Mediative; and David Hughes, CEO, The Search Agency, spoke of the role digital agencies play in the local marketing space and how to make it work. Key points made by the panel include:
Relationships and service matter. Increasing touch with clients reduces churn rates by 3-4 points. Relationships equate to trust which helps differentiate the agency from self-service or call center products.
Use technology to reduce costs. Make sure you provide a solution for as broad a range of digital products as possible. Make sure you make a sufficient margin: 30% is the sweet spot – anything less is not enough. Folks that want agencies will pay for the service.
Local is critical – Google can’t talk to every local business.
Traditional media still plays a part – Google acknowledges that traditional media adds a 30-40% lift to Google media.
Training on digital is necessary. One panelist trains their sales team 50 weeks a year.
Incentivize digital sales. One panelist penalizes traditional media sales if insufficient digital sales are made.
Online reviews and ratings are having a huge impact on the local search space. As platforms like Facebook, Google and Yelp give reviews more importance and improve their ability to filter out fake ones – and government officials crack down on dishonest practices – consumer trust and use of reviews can only be expected to grow.
In my Street Fight article, I discuss how reviews and ratings are some of the most powerful pieces of information in local search. Not only are they impacting SEO for local businesses, but they are significant influencers of consumer action.
Last week, Google introduced Maps Engine Pro, a tool that helps businesses visualize their individual data on the Google Maps platform. The tool allows small businesses to use location tools provided by Google to create both internal- and external-facing maps.
The Google Maps Engine Pro tool uses imported data, including addresses, names, office locations and sales territories to visualize a business on the map. Maps Engine Pro will allow businesses to optimize the locations of people and company assets, engage users and build apps using all of Google’s layers. Maps Engine Pro allows SMBs and individual employees to create their own stylized maps, without specialized training or developer resources.
This new variation is an adapted version of Google Maps Engine, which is a more advanced map styling tool offering a full spectrum of maps creation. The Pro tool has been simplified for business professionals.
“By providing better ways to easily integrate maps into your organization’s operations, businesses now have the ability to use powerful mapping technologies that were once only available to mapping experts,” according to Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps.
Pure Fix Cycles, a distributor of custom-made fixed-gear bicycles, is using Maps Engine Pro to identify sales opportunities across the company’s target markets, hoping to expand its business. The company’s founder, Jordan Schau, is finding the new tool useful from a customer service standpoint:
“Looking at a spreadsheet of 100 accounts on the East Coast, I would have no idea where any of them are. I uploaded that spreadsheet [to Maps Engine Pro] and I can say ‘Customer service team, check out this map. When a customer calls, [we can] send them to a store that have a lot of inventory’ or send them to stores that order from us often.’”
Being able to visualize and easily identify location patterns is incredibly important for businesses looking to properly delegate their local marketing spend. Local businesses looking to grow their customer base would be wise to look into the tool to map out customer data. For instance, a business could input data from its rewards program to see which parts of town customers are coming from to help guide where in the city to focus marketing dollars. Additionally, small businesses could map purchases to determine product-buying patterns in their locale, providing insights on which products to market more heavily in different areas.
It’s exciting to see what new mapping technology is bringing about not just for consumers looking to find their way, but for small businesses looking to harness insights to drive business goals forward.