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.