The Bottom Line: Local Search is important because if your brick and mortar business doesn’t come up in a related keyword for your area then you may just be losing a customer to a competitor.
Local search is the incorporation of geographical data with search. It is a powerful subcomponent of search that automatically detects keywords that are deemed to have local relevance. Once detected, the search is optimized to bring out local features, such as maps, and reviews from specialized websites.
In 2008, we saw dramatic shifts how Google and the other search engines returned results. The catalyst of this change was the explosion of mobile search. With mobile phones, usage is mainly local. This means that if you took the train from Philadelphia to New York and you are hungry for tacos, the obvious is that you pull out the phone and search to find what is around your current location. If you are driving across the big state of Texas, and running out of gas, with local search and a phone with signal, you will be able to find the nearest gas station.
As a result, Google is incorporating local search into traditional search more and more each day. If your business doesn’t come up in a related keyword for your area then you may just be losing a customer to a competitor.
To start the right result involves:
- Open & Close Time
- Reviews & Rating
How does this affect you?
If you own a local business and you have a website, you need to make sure your website contains “structured data” the way Google can read. This allows Google to display your business in a richer format which eventually leads to more customers. Check how structured data works for local businesses. If you are running WordPress for your local business, you might find a plug-in that helps get that data into the right format.
What happened when businesses don’t take ownership of their data?
- Erroneous information that will lead to customers not being happy. If a customer visits your store when google says it was open but it was closed. That customer will not come back. Ever.
- Customers will not be able to find you. Let’s say you have a wine store and in your description you don’t have anything. Potential customers who are looking for a specific Spanish Rioja wine will not be able to find you.
- Conversions to online store. If you have an online store, you will miss out of eCommerce conversions.
What is the future look like?
The data provided by these businesses will only expand. Take a look at Schema.org release history. It is clear that the level of data only increases as time progresses. I also believe tools will evolve for businesses to control their data. Furthermore, as more and more apps are developed, we will be able to see this data in an aggregated way in a new way. So in summary we have three ways this will evolve:
- Increase in data complexity
- Businesses in control of their data
- Visualization of Data
Local is as important for users as it is for businesses. Users: Want use it for discovery, to enhance their daily life experience and businesses want to use it to stay in business. The future will provide ample opportunities for data usage.