Proven Tactics For Targeting Local Searchers

October 6, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

The feeling is almost back in my wrists after this morning’s crazy roundtable keynote debate. That means it’s time for more liveblogging. And maybe some more apple juice. Hmm.

Anyway! We’re back and Chris Sherman is leading us back through the local sphere with speakers Brian Jurutka and Gregg Stewart. They’re going to present together.

Gregg’s mustache curls up at the ends.  It’s very Snidley Whiplash. If I had more energy I’d blog in the style of Natasha and use lots of “darlings” in my recap. Luckily for you, I’m in dire need of a nap.

Back to the session. Gregg says that only 5 percent of retail happens solely as a result of online. They conducted a study to understand the use and value of IYP, Print YP and Search to monitor shifts in consumer behavior and opinions.

Primary Sources of Local Business Information (primary not the ONLY source)

  • 28 percent: Print YP or WP directory (down from 33 percent in 2007)
  • 31 percent: Search Engines (up from 30 percent in2007)
  • 21 percent IYP (up from 17 percent in 2007)
  • 12 percent local search sites (down 1 percent from 2007)

People don’t just use one source. In addition to the primary source, what other sources to people use?

  • 64 percent use search engines
  • 62 percent use a print YP or WP directory
  • 55 percent use IYP sites
  • 41 percent use local search sites
  • 23 percent use local newspapers/magazines
  • 17 percent use directory assistance
  • 11 percent other printed directories
  • 10 percent cell phone/wireless
  • 7 percent social networking

People are multi-mobile. They use a bunch of different sources at different parts of the buying stage. Different people also use different channels.

Search Intent, Online vs Offline

As was the case in previous years, offline search is used overwhelmingly when a business has already been identified. Online search is used earlier in the purchasing process, with 4 out of 10 using it for research. ROBO – Research Online, Buy Offline.  People research online and then use an offline vehicle for the purchase.

Hinting at the current economic conditions during 2009, getting better deals online has become a larger factor — 2008 only saw around 25 percent of respondents select this reason.  In 2009, it was 32 percent.  Forty-one percent said they buy online because they like the convenience of it.   Interestingly, 19 percent of people answered they like to speak with people offline before buying online. Personally, I think this defeats the purpose (and awesome) of online. Talking to people = bad.

Current online search trends

Search growth was partially driven by intensity growth, up 25 percent verses June 2008.  Search growth was also driven by an increasing searcher base, reaching 202MM searchers in June 2009.

Growth from search engines are being outpaced by non-search engines. The traffic is driven by searches from portals, directories, resources, multimedia and social networking sites.  From a marketer standpoint, you have to think about which ones you can monetize and which ones you can’t. There are searching and local searching activities happening away from the engine. it’s important to understand where that’s happening and unlock the little pockets. HOT POCKET! [Sorry.]

Non-search engines show strong yearly search growth from June 2008, with leading growth rates for Craigslist and eBay.

Importance of Online Consumer Reviews

The importance of Consumer Ratings and Reviews continue to climb. However, only 1/4 of consumers state they actually use this information as part of their business election process. HOWEVER, as we learned during yesterday’s Ranking Tactics For Local Search panel, reviews help you rank, even if people aren’t reading them. Google is.  You have to manage reviews and make them good for your brand.

What other features are helpful or important?

  • 48 percent said phone number
  • 51 percent said address
  • 37 percent said maps
  • 30 percent said having a Web site
  • 25 percent said distance to the business

Consumers expect the business results to be closer versus previous years. Specifically, 63 percent state that they expected the business to be within 15 miles of their home.  True fact: 80 percent of retail transactions happen within 15 miles of the home.

Local Search Share

IYP and Local sites split share if IYP/Local searches with local growing from 40 percent in both 2007 and 2008 to 51 percent this year. This is mostly attributed to the growth of Google Maps.


  • Google Maps: 26 percent (way to go, Google!)
  • Yahoo Local: 17 percent
  • AT&T Interactive Network: 15 percent
  • Superpages: 15 percent
  • Yellowbook: 12 percent
  • Yelp: 2 percent

What is driving Google Maps searches? The Ten Pack

When a user searches for a non-branded term [pizza], Google assumes there is local intent and brings up the 10 Pack.

People who search on IYP sites are looking for a phone number for a business (31 percent).  Those who search locally are looking for maps (21 percent). People who do general searches are doing research (17 percent). Their intents are different.

Local business searchers in 2009 are more likely to visit the business in person  (37 percent) and contact the business over the phone (46 percent) than they were in 2008. In-store purchases have decreased across the board.  Half of all local business searchers went on to make a purchase.

Search Term Analysis

Keywords include general terms and the top branded terms for each category as determined by ComScore.

IYP search accounts for nearly half of Home Services searches. General search is the largest in most categories, particularly Home Improvement and Banking & Finance. Local search is the largest in the Child Care category (46 percent).

Local Search In The Mobile Space

32 percent of folks with Internet-capable phones are doing searches for local businesses, up 11 percent from last year.  60 percent of people with smartphones have conducted a search for used a mobile app on their phone.

Overwhelmingly, the preferred mode to access local content remains the mobile browser, with nearly 22MM users in June. Mobile users looking up local info via SMS saw 27 percent growth.

What are people looking for?  Online directories, maps, restaurants and movies.


  • Online channels remain the primary source of local business information. 67 percent of local searchers cited a search web site as their primary source of local biz info.
  • Compared to 2008, a higher percent of local business searches feel they could get a better deal onlie than offline, perhaps as a result of the recession. Use coupons to close deals!
  • Use telephone tracking. If you can measure it, you can optimize it.

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