One of 2013’s biggest marketing trends will be the growth of local search. From neighborhood cafés and trustworthy mechanics to live events and grocery stores, shoppers want to know what businesses near them can offer and use search engines, social media, and review sites to find out.
In October 2012, YP released an expansive study that shows who searches locally, what they want, and how they get their information.
Here’s how you can take advantage of the growing local search phenomenon with this list of eight marketing do’s and don’ts from the YP study.
1. Optimize for mobile
Smartphone and tablet users average between two and six times more local searches each week than PC users. Ensure that mobile users get the best experience by considering responsive design, building an app, and creating more visual, short content. But first, analyze the pros and cons of each of those strategies.
2. Include basics and more
Local searchers tend to want basic information, such as address and phone number. But more and more local searchers desire in-depth information. Restaurants, one of the most popular categories for local search, saw people hunting for information about pricing, ratings, and directions.
3. Know who’s searching
The YP study surveyed more than 1,100 respondents across the United States and found that 24 percent of those accounted for more than half of local search volume. Knowing the tendencies of these “avid users” can help marketing efforts. For example, avid users were more likely to shop using a mobile app or purchase a daily deal than their counterparts. Test a variety of ways to appeal to those users.
4. Get started now
Local search figures to continue to increase as more smartphones and tablets enter the market. This means a larger percentage of searches will occur on mobile devices and that local searchers are likely to search in different ways or for additional reasons.
5. Rely only on search engines to bring traffic
Local searchers don’t always use Google, Bing, and Yahoo! to find what they need. The number of local searchers who use review sites, portals, and other tools is comparable to those who use search engines. Attract more local searchers by encouraging satisfied customers to write a review of your business on Yelp or other review sites.
6. Optimize once and forget it
The reliance on local search requires businesses to tweak how they optimize for local search. The needs of local searchers will evolve as more people use it and as more mobile devices hit the market. Businesses must remain flexible in how they attract local searchers. Stay ahead of the curve by occasionally surveying existing and new customers to see what they search for and the platforms they use.
7. Miss chance to expand local
A majority of buyers shop within 15 to 20 minutes of their home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t entice them to farther. Reach shoppers outside of that radius by advertising your great selection or offering discounts. More than 50 percent of shoppers were willing to travel farther for stores that gave them more options or lower prices. Since many local searchers use mobile devices, offer coupons they can bring on their smartphones.
8. Focus only on attracting new customers
The information businesses provide should appeal to both new customers and to existing ones. New customers are likely more interested in phone numbers and directions. Existing customers want to know what products are available and if there are any discounts. Use information that makes the lives of existing customers easier.