What’s New in Local Search – June 2014

You know it seems that the largest players in local search always have something going on, these “players” include Google and Bing who, from a local search perspective, continue to test and experiment with new features for local search. In the Search business it can be difficult to stay on top of all of the recent changes whether it be an algorithm update or changes to a particular vertical in Search. So we thought that we would compile a list of some of the more interesting going-ons as it pertains to local search in the digital space.
Here are a few “Did You Knows” and a couple of high level local search optimization tips for you to consider this summer.

Did You Know This About Local?

1. Did you know that restaurants can now upload PDF menus to their Facebook Pages?  Yes as announced by Facebook on May 22, “In the US or Canada, restaurant Pages can now upload menus through SinglePlatform from Constant Contact, an online listings service that helps local businesses connect and engage with consumers by showcasing menus, products and services, photos, specials and more.”

2. Did you know that 60 percent of mobile users expect a site to load in 3 seconds or less.  74 percent are willing to wait only 5 seconds for a site to load before leaving. (Source: Compuware.com).  More mobile stats from Forbes.com.

3. Did you know that Yelp will be looking to add video reviews to their review offering?  I’m not sure how well this will work out, but Yelp recently announced that users will be able to upload clips between 2-12 seconds long to share their thoughts on a certain business.  Hmm I can see this getting exploited.  According to YELP, “… As people start using the feature, the most highly rated videos will automatically rise to the top of the photo and video feed.”

4. A few reports were stating that Bing has communicated that mobile devices are now responsible for 15% of traffic on the Yahoo/Bing network.  Also, in response to feedback received from users, Bing announced that they have added a GEO location report to Bing Ads which shows the location of where searchers are located and whether their proximity had an impact on the effectiveness of the ad.

5. Did you know that Google Maps began to add directions to help users find public transit in select cities?  This is a nice little feature that illustrates Google’s focus on providing a better user experience when it comes to local activity.  Read more here.

6. Did you know that, according to a study from Bright Local, customers are willing to drive an average of 17 minutes to get to a local business?  When it comes to type of business, customers were only willing to drive 12 minutes to a gym or Yoga class but were willing to drive up to 21 minutes to a doctor or dentist office.  Full study.

7. Did you know that Google added product cards to its location based messaging thereby allowing users to see the availability and pricing of items for which they have previously searched for in stores that are near their location?  To me this is a little to AI.

8. Did you know that 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases, according to comScore latest Local Search Study? While conversion rates may be higher on a smartphone, the study suggested that many searchers believe that can find more complete information about local businesses on a desktop rather than a smartphone or tablet.

9. Did you know that Savings.com increased mobile revenues by 1000% YOY with a mobile first strategy.  Still need some convincing that mobile advertising isn’t just a fad?  Search Engine Land featured a nice case study on savings.com and how they focused on mobile to adapt to their customers search habits.

10. Bing, like Google, suggests that marking up your content with schema can result in higher click rate (although will not have any direct impact on rankings).  Using schema to describe location information can be one area where you can use rich markup to communicate to the engines local information about your business.

11. Bonus:  The folks at Bright Local conducted a recent survey that indicates that organic search delivers the best ROI for local businesses.  I might be a little bias here, but the return from organic search beats most marketing channels depending on the industry and competitiveness of the keywords and content being targeted.   For additional details on the study, visit this post.

You will probably agree that there are some interesting findings here.  As we move into the summer you might want to reevaluate your approach to local search and to mobile.  Take the time to truly understand your local search landscape and what you can do to better improve and leverage your mobile traffic.  We have some great case studies around successful local search campaigns.  Take the time to understand what your best options are when it comes to local search optimization or mobile optimization.  It’s time to get out there and meet the new neighbourhood.  For our friends in Canada, check out our newest YellowPages Canada app.  Happy marketing and happy shopping!