Local online search activity is set to explode in the next few years. This is especially true of the mobile search market as consumers turn more frequently to their devices to obtain information about local businesses. Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) should be taking steps now to optimize their presence for local search and directory listings.
The IAB’s new white paper on this topic does an excellent job of summarizing the key players in the local model search market, which is projected to reach spending levels of $5.7 billion by 2017. By 2015, the number of local searches on mobile devices will exceed those carried out on desktop computers.
Small businesses can make themselves visible via local search through a number of techniques. Here’s where consumers are looking for local businesses online:
- Search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing present listings through organic and paid search. Some businesses have claimed their basic listings on these sites and enhanced them.
- Mappings services such as Google or CityMaps. Consumers can get directions to the business and perhaps a visual image of the storefront.
- Internet Yellow Pages. These listings are the digital versions of the old paper telephone directories and can include organic and paid results.
- Local/Vertical Specific Directory. These listings might include all restaurants in a specific city or all medical offices in a neighborhood.
- Social Media. The strength of listing on these sites, and apps provided by these sites, is the access to review and recommendations by other consumers. In some cases, this information is provided by other publishers.
- Mobile Apps. These tools are growing more important as consumers access them to locate a branch of their favorite coffee shop in a different town or to use rewards or loyalty points.
SMBs should be taking advantage of free listings on directory sites. IAB analysts encourage enterprises to verify the accuracy of the information on a regular basis. Doing so results in the higher-status ‘owner verified’ listing. Beyond the basic name, address, and phone number, SMBs can boost credibility by including products and services, links to websites, and keywords. SMBs should also be on the lookout for duplicate listings which might show slightly different information for the business. These findings can be confusing for consumers. Businesses that take the time to clean up these entries come across as more professional and trustworthy.
As consumers grow to rely more on local search, SMBs should also consider purchasing sponsored listings to improve their ranking.
To learn more about Local First Shoppers, a key audience for SMBs, check out the Audience Interests & Intent report available on the Research Store at ad-ology.com.[Source: Local Search and Listings Across Directories. IAB.net. April 2013. Web. 6 May 2013]