Search Engine Strategies in San Jose this year features a special session focused on Local 2.0, the evolution of Local Search 2.0. Local Search comprises a significant chunk of online visitor engagement which includes online mapping, shopping engines, and directories. I had a chance to catch up with Peter Hutto, Vice President, Business Development and Sales at Local.com to get some insight on his session regarding Local 2.0 at SES San Jose. Read our chat below:

[Manoj]: How important is it for marketers to include local search as a part of their total online strategy?

[Peter Hutto]: There is a local market component for almost all business to business or business to consumer products or services. Today, the vast majority of products or services can be sourced locally - in fact approximately 80% of all goods and services are purchased locally. There is no question that it is extremely important for all marketers to incorporate a local online marketing strategy.

[Manoj]: What percentage of online searches are local?

[Peter Hutto]: This statistic is often debated. When actually trying to determine the percentage of local searches you need to consider both explicit and implicit searches. The explicit searches are when someone actually specifies the "where" in their search. For example, "used cars in Palo Alto" or "shoe repair in Irvine." However, there are many searches that are implicitly local, when local intent is implied. For example when looking for "plumbers", "carpet cleaners", "marriage counseling" and many other products and services, a geography does not need to be specified since these services are implicitly tied to a local geography. Almost all local search platforms will geo-target the IP address and append that to the search query. Therefore when considering the percentage of online searches that are local, you should look at the combined number of both explicit and implicit searches. It is estimated that overall local search accounts for about 20-25 percent of online searches.

[Manoj]: How does a local search engine such as Local.com provide a unique search experience compared to Google/Yahoo Local?

[Peter Hutto]: Google and Yahoo are both broad in their focus and are not entirely focused on local search. Local.com offers a streamlined user interface and provides users with targeted, highly relevant local search results. These results include special offers, user ratings and reviews, local businesses' website links, maps, driving directions, photos and more. Consumers can find all of the information they need on local businesses, products and services in one place.

[Manoj]: What is required to implement a local search strategy at Local.com?

[Peter Hutto]: Just give us a call (888-857-6722) or go to http://www.local.com/ to get started. Our sales team can work directly with local business owners and provide them with search targeting metrics- by geography, keyword and category. Ads on Local.com can be up in one day, often within hours. We also have a client services team who specializes in campaign optimization and keyword build out. Advertising on Local.com is cost effective for local businesses and doesn't require extensive resources.

[Manoj]: What businesses flourish the most in local search?

[Peter Hutto]: There are 3 interesting segments that are starting to take off. We are seeing solid growth with search in traditional "trade services" categories, which have typically been the domain of the Yellow Page publishers like plumbers, auto repair, etc. We are also seeing an increase in the "professional services" categories like attorneys, accountants, financial consultants, etc. The bigger and typically consumer focused (vs. corporate) firms in these categories have been doing search for a while but there is a strong influx of newer and smaller firms who in the past did very little marketing. Finally almost all new companies are now considering search right out of the gate. The new business owner is very concerned about getting new customers and the majority are seriously considering local search because it is much more effective AND affordable than their traditional advertising channels like the Yellow Pages. The ROI and targeting capabilities of local search are nearly unmatched.
 
 
For more local search resources check out Web Analytics World's Ultimate Local Search Resources Guide

August 7, 2008





Manoj has been in the Digital marketing industry for over 10 years with experience at some of Canada's largest companies: WestJet and Shaw Communications. Manoj first started in the search marketing industry with Enquiro Search Solutions, where he spearheaded web analytics, SEO Training and the development of cutting edge search marketing solutions for clients. Manoj is also an entrepreneur in the Mobile and Local Deals space.

Manoj is a Professional Speaker having participated at events such as Web Analytics Congress (Amsterdam), Emetrics, Web Analytics Xchange, WebTrends Engage, Internet Marketing Conference, Social Media Innovation Summit and Search Engine Strategies. He has also contributed to several leading online publications such as: Search Engine Land, Marketing Pilgrim, WebProNews, Search Engine Guide and the Web Analytics Assocation.

He founded and successfully sold Web Analytics World (a top 100 Digital Marketing Blog – http://adage.com/power150) and was voted #39th Most Influential Digital Marketer in North America – 2009 (see: www.Invesp.net)






Comments(6)

Manoj -

Nice interview with a very interesting business person!

One of the things I find a bit vague in some of the local intent search statistics happens when we come to implied local searches.

Searching for plumbers, yes, likely the user wants a plumber, not a definition of the word 'plumber', the history of plumbers in the US, etc.

But what about a search like 'elder care'?

What does the user really want? A local retirement home, tips on caring for an elder, a definition, a job?

If I were a search engine, and there was no geo data accompanying this search, I'd be hard pressed to determine whether this represents an implied local query on not.

Something I wonder about.
Miriam

Hi Miriam, that's a good question and I believe engines such as Google are well on their way in trying to figure out a given user's intent. It's their whole concept of personalized search results. They may not get it right the first time, but after they have observed your search history (queries, clicks, navigating back and forth from search results to websites) they certainly can begin offering results which better match your intent.

Additionally, Google very often splits search listings on a results page in order to try to fulfil all queries requests

Of course many other factors come into play such as: Cookies (and their deletion), whether you are signed into your Google Account, Seasonality, Current events, etc... All these make it much more difficult for a search engine to show a user the results they're looking for.

Manoj,
I wonder what the long term prospects are for companies like local, yellow pages, etc...Google, Yahoo and MSN are the starting points for most searchers and Google provides relevant local results through maps and main search box when a geoqualifier is used.
Is it just a matter of time before all local searches will be done through the Big3 or will there remain a core differentiator between local.com/yellow pages and Google?

Hi Art,

I agree that the Big 3 have started taking local search market share from the vertical engines but I have heard that websites such as the Yellow Pages and Local.com still get millions of visitors. see: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/local.com+yellowpages.com/

It might not be a bad idea for one of the big 3 to start leveraging the vertical engines to act as feed for their local search results.

Like Peter mentioned, the experience at sites such as Local.com is quite different than a regular search engine so perhaps this is one way the local engines can stay competitive - it will be tough nonetheless.

Hi all,

Local.com works well my clients here on the east coast. Many local newspapers in this area power their local listings via local.com - the client kind of gets a "two for one" for being listed there.

We have found local search very valuable to our business. It can be quite frustrating to achieve high page rank organically and expensive for PPC. Local Search seems to be a less frustrating and less expensive enhancement to our marketing efforts.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.


Search Engine Guide > Manoj Jasra > Interview: Peter Hutto of Local.com