Local Search | Digital Marketing Tutorial

Overview

Just as the name implies, Local Search is all about searching the billions of pages on the World Wide Web for information that is related to a specific geographic area (country, state or city).

The PRIMARY use of this type of search, and what is implied in the term “Local Search”, is that the searcher is looking for information specific to his/her present geographic location.

The classic example of local search is a freshman college student new to the geographical area in which the college is located using the Web to search for the nearest restaurant or pizza shop in Google, Yahoo or Bing, etc.

In other words, search engines on the Web are being used as a replacement for the traditional phone book Yellow Pages.

Local Search and Search Engines

How big is “Local Search”? Google has devoted significant resources to perfecting local search for their search platforms.

Let’s take a look at Google Local Search and then a quick look at Local.com, a dedicated, local search-only Web site.

At the end of this review, I’ll give you some tips on how to maximize your Web site’s exposure in this important and growing search innovation, especially if your company depends on attracting LOCAL prospects/customers.

Google Local Search

Google Local Search (“Google My Business”)

Note: Much of what is said in this article about the concept of “local search” remains valid.  What changes frequently is Google’s never-ending attempt to present a topic in a more optimized fashion. Thus Google Local Search has become “Google My Business”.

Google has made LOTS of changes to Google Local Search over the years. These changes have made optimizing Local Search on Google one of the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of Local Search that small/medium-sized businesses MUST pay attention to. And here’s why…

First, let’s start with the person searching for something on Google. If Google can relate that search query in any way to the SEARCHER’S location, Google will then list those location-related search results using Google’s best guess at where on the planet that SEARCHER is located.

Google does this by using the SEARCHER’S IP address – the internet address of the computer network from which the searcher is conducting his/her search on Google. Best guesses at the area included in Google location-related search results are anywhere from 15 to 40 miles of the physical location of the searcher’s IP address.

To see this in action, perform a search on Google for “used cars” (without the quotation marks), then look for the search results “3-Pack” on Google’s FIRST search results page listed after the (usually 4) Google Ads results.

How do you get your business in the Google search results “3-Pack” for that search term?

Google My Business (GMB) Search Results

To make sure it gets correctly included in Google’s location-related search results including the “3-Pack”, that business should make sure that it has an accurate (free) listing in Google My Business.

Why? Because most small businesses do not host their Web sites on their own in-house computer systems. The Web site is usually hosted by a large Web site hosting service, and the physical location of that service’s computer network may be thousands of miles from the physical location of the business.

By signing up for Google My Business and entering the physical address of the business location as well as details about the products/services supplied by that business and the business Web site, Google can then accurately index that business’ product offering AND Web site content by its physical location.

When searches are made on Google for a product or service supplied by a business located physically near the searcher’s location, that business will be returned as a high ranking search result.

Much more on recent Google Search Results changes can be found in an article by Search Engine Land titled, “How to survive Google’s new local search world“.

Dedicated Local Search Web Sites

There are a number of Web search sites that are dedicated to local search exclusively. One of the best known is Local.com

Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

“Local.com is committed to helping you find exactly what you’re looking for. From restaurants that will help you curb those midnight Japanese food cravings to finding the best home remodeling contractors in your area we’ll help you find it all.

Apart from giving you up-to-date phone numbers and addresses of local businesses across the country, we’ll also give you driving directions to get there! To complete the Local.com experience, you’ll be able read reviews of the businesses, so you can come to an informed decision. You will also be able to rate and review the services you choose, adding value to the site and enriching the next user’s experience. There are more than 100,000 listings of local businesses on Local.com and we’re dedicated to adding more every day.”

Taking Advantage of Local Search

What do YOU have to do in order to take advantage of the Local Search concept?

First, make sure your Web site is in the Google search index. That’s covered in great detail in the Search Engine Optimization section of this Web site.

Second, once your site is in these indices, perform the following searches in the Local Search Services and note where in the search results your company is listed, especially relative to your largest competitor(s):

  • your company name AND your zip code
  • your company name AND town, state abbreviation

Now perform these same searches substituting several keyword(s) you think searchers would use to find your company for your company name and note where in the search results your company is listed, especially relative to your largest competitor(s).

If your company is listed higher than your major competitor(s) in these local search results pages, the ONLY thing you need to do is to perform the same searches outlined above on a regular basis to insure that you stay ahead of your major competition.

If your company is listed lower than your major competitor(s) in these local search results pages, then you must approach this situation as you would any search engine optimization exercise. See the Search Engine Optimization To Do List – Existing Site Web page for a detailed outline of how to perform this optimization. The good news is you’ve already completed Steps 1-4 of that procedure!

Search Engine Trends – Return to Search Engines Trends Page

Note: My name is Dave Ingalls. If you need help with your B2B Digital Marketing tasks, please review the B2B Digital Marketing Services I offer.