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Tim Peter

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October 6, 2009

How important is local search? Here's a hint: EXTREMELY!!!

October 6, 2009 | By | No Comments

When’s the last time you had really good sushi? The other day, I was looking for a good restaurant in New York to get dinner with some friends. Since I wasn’t near my office, I typed “good sushi NYC” into my Blackberry’s browser. In mere moments, I got the result, directions and – after forwarding the address to my friends – a nice meal.

Obviously, I’ve been on the local/mobile search bandwagon for some time – as have great bloggers like Mike Blumenthal, David Mihm and the fine folks at Search Engine Land. But Todd Friesen has a great piece over at MediaPost Search Insider that offers these astonishing stats:

  • 13% of searches involves some level of geographic intent.
  • Half of those searches don’t actually use a location. In the words of the original report [PDF], geographic intent involves “…queries where the users expected the results to be contained within some geographic radius.”
  • 84% of queries that include location do so on a city level. (How long will it take until it’s neighborhood or street?)

Google clearly understands this “geographic intent” extremely well. Not only did Google strongly advocate geo-targeting search at their recent ThinkTravel confab, they’re also building search results around where you are. As Newsweek noted the other day,

“More recently, Google has been focusing on providing results more relevant to specific regions around the world… Google has been tweaking algorithms to emphasize the searcher’s apparent location. Now, a search on “bank” on the U.S. site, google.com, will bring up links to Bank of America and Wells Fargo, while the same search on google.co.in, Google’s Indian site, will bring up homegrown HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank. It’s one small reason Google has even higher market share in many other countries than in the U.S.—such as 88% in India, according to comScore.”

And that’s not all. Just take a look at these Search Engine Land headlines – all from the last week(!):

In fact, the only place I disagree with Todd’s MediaPost column is when he says,

“Forget the “Year of Mobile” — this is the “Year of Local” (sorry mobile people, I know you’ve been waiting).”

Actually, they’re often the same thing: 51% of mobile customers used local search on their phones. But, you get the point.

Mobile is here. Local is here. And the marriage of the two is here, too. Today. If your business depends on foot traffic as well as site traffic, make sure you’re findable, browsable and reachable in local searches and on mobile devices. In fact, it’s a good idea even when your business isn’t locale-dependent.

How are you managing local search for your business? How is it working for you? Tell us about it in the comments.



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Comments

  1. I started innorthridge.com exactly for the reasons you highlight above. I want something that only shows stuff in northridge california. I want the website to be fast (so nothing fancy, no graphics) and be readable by portable devices, so I use xhtml for proper parsing and no fancy layout (css or table).

    I launched it with minimal information, and I am already receiving some interesting searches.

    I also decided not to make it a wiki or allow comments because I completely want to disallow spam. I also wanted to make sure the information is 100% correct, so I physically go around with a clipboard and write the stuff down, then type it in and write the date the information was last entered. I haven’t figured out how to monetize, but as there is practically zero bandwidth cost, I have some time to think about that. (well, I do think to offer local in-page static advertising at $0.10 per year per character ($10/year for 100 characters, or 1.5 line), but I don’t know yet. We’ll see).

    I’d love some feedback on the site, and I’d like you to try it in your portable device to know if the layout is at least passable. :)

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