David Mihm does a typically fantastic job of explaining the importance of local search in his ‘Ranking in the Local Search Algorithms‘ presentation from the SEMpdx Hot Seat on September 9. (Don’t be frightened by that ‘algorightms’ word; the presentation is really accessible and clear, not a bunch of techno-speak.)
Particularly noteworthy right up front is the extrapolation that:
Half a BILLION unique visitors per month search Google with ‘local intent’.
(Still don’t think local search is important, dear reader?)
His presentation is chock-full of other useful insights and real-world information for local small businesses. One of the most compelling is the discussion of how recent developments with Google may be substantially altering the local search landscape. Specifically, David points to Google’s new zip code prompt for certain searches.
By way of example: If I do a search for ‘pizza’ Google presumes that there’s a fairly good chance I’m looking for something local, so the very first entry (below one sponsored link for me today) is this:
As of today, I get the same ‘Looking for local?’ prompt on a search for ‘lawyer’ (but not ‘attorney’), ‘restaurant’, ‘car repair’ (but not ‘plumber’), ‘dentist’ and ‘optometrist’ (but not ‘surgeon’), ‘nursery’ (but not ‘landscaper’).
The point here is that this new service from Google may yet to be implemented for every possible local search, but this evolution highlights the importance of enhancing your local search profile NOW.
Why? Let’s go back to the pizza example: If I proceed to enter ‘Orlando’ or my zip code into the prompt, the first thing I see is the local business results, which are displayed beside the Google map.
Google presumed (correctly, in this case) that my search was for a local business, helped me geo-target the search with the prompt, and showcased the local business results (in the #1 position) for me.
It’s likely that Google will continue to expand the use of this zip code prompt in the future, so it’s increasingly vital for your business to include local search as part of your Internet marketing strategy. (Check out the other posts, Small Businesses Go Local! and More Reasons to Go Local to learn more.)