Local Search – A Layman’s Guide
The steady migration of local offline advertising to the web is both an opportunity and a challenge for national brands and their local distributors. Fast changing are the days when consumers counted on local newspapers, radio, and television to find local products and services; Google reveals that 20% of user searches have local intent. The challenge for big Brands is developing the internal capacity to deal with the intricacies of local search or finding the right partner to do so on their behalf. The opportunity however is the increased ability for brands to strengthen their local partners through local search, mobile search, and social media.
Local Search, Layman’s Terms
Think of a well laid out mashup of all the business information in a phone book, maps / driving directions, street photos, and aggregated social media feedback from users that consume the product or service of XYZ business. Now, think about the fact that search giants Google, Yahoo, and Bing are inclined to offer this kind of result to a user that executes an explicit local search like “Pittsburg restaurants” or an implicit local search (that simply refers to locally consumed products or services) like “Dentist” as the first line of relevant information. That is local search, and managing it properly is an enormous opportunity for brands to better position their partners.
SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile)
Digital Business Analytics provider comScore cites that while PC searches declined by six percent last year some 86 million people in the US now access local business information from their mobile phones. The same study finds that those local business searches carried out on mobile phones are more likely to lead to an in-store visit and purchase.
Social Networking and Local Search
Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Linkedin top the list of social networking sites used for local businesses searches. Although passive use (liking or following a business) accounts for the majority of interaction consumers have with brands and their local partners through social networking, that interaction opens the space for additional brand messaging, increases touch points, and develops loyalty.
Discovery and Recovery
Local search is more advanced and favored on search engines more than ever. Search engines can discern whether a user is on a new journey of discovery for a product / service or trying to recover information like an address or phone number from a familiar business. Either way, brands must position their local partners in the search paths of users looking to discover or recover information.
The once dominant paradigm of offline local media and non-specific national branding are rapidly changing. Local Search (both mobile and non-mobile) integrated with social media are catalyzing the consumer driven multi-touch point advertising of tomorrow. Local marketing focused brands that help their partners dominate the space will reap the benefits; those that disregard the opportunity will feel the negative effects.