(Read The Three Faces of Search Marketing (Part 1): How Paid, Organic, and Local Search Boosts Revenue Exponentially, The Three Faces of Search Marketing (Part 2): How Paid, Organic, and Local Search Boosts Revenue Exponentially of the multi-part series)
Face #3: Local Search
According to LocalU, when you view Local Search from the perspective of a business owner, it’s all about having their company found whenever people in their area are looking online either specifically for them or for the goods and services they offer.
On the other hand, when web companies talk about local search marketing, they’re mostly referring to getting businesses to rank in the listings that appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) accompanied by Map pins. Usually, a map appears on the page, too. These results are displayed with the address and phone number of the company, along with a link to directions to the location, if appropriate, and a link to any reviews Google may have about it.
Research Online, Buy Offline
Another explanation of Local Search is that people are researching online before buying offline. Sometimes referred to with the acronym ROBO, this behavior is exactly how searchers are using the internet to facilitate interactions with local businesses.
First, they discover their choices for buying products and services from those nearby them via the internet. Then, they use reviews and ratings to help them decide which businesses to consider and, finally, they make phone calls or visit stores to solidify their buying decisions before actually making a purchase.
Correlation to Yellow Pages
Another way that helps many people to comprehend Local Search is that just about anything that you would think of as being listed in the nearly-obsolete, printed Yellow Pages phone books is now found online via Local Search.
The Search Engines and Local Search
From Google’s point of view, Local Search is all about the map and only entities that have a physical presence in a real place belong on Google Maps. Bing and Yahoo tend to follow Google’s model this. Online-only businesses and those that market nationally or globally cannot usually get a Google, Bing or Yahoo local listing to rank in the SERPs except in the city(s) where they actually have a physical location.
This concept has tended to favor enterprises with offices and storefronts. But businesses that go to the customer, rather than having the customer come to their location (also known as service area businesses) are now gaining parity in the Local Search results. Examples of service area businesses are carpet cleaners, plumbers, roofers and mobile veterinarians.
Other Local Searches
Not all local searches are performed at the big 3 Search Engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo. Sometimes people are looking on digital maps, GPS systems and in-car navigation systems for local businesses. Sometimes they are looking for business information in online Yellow Page-type directories or on social sites like Yelp, Angie’s List or Facebook. Nearly every industry also has a set of directories that list that particular type of company. Examples of this are BedandBreakfast.com, Findlaw.com and GunDogBreeders.com.
These three faces can help any business dominate its competition on the web, using the right marketing plan. They all provide a sizeable and contribution to website ranking and visibility on the web, despite being distinctly different from one another.