There is a lot of attention paid to “Local Search” these days, and for good reason. It has become apparent that a large number of us search for things we are looking for in that moment, and from our cell phones. This is the latest “great opportunity” for business owners to present their businesses to consumers at the exact time they need them. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, 78% of mobile searches for local businesses result in a purchase.
Greg Sterling mentioned recently that under 40% of consumers start a local search with a search engine. He presents research from comScore that breaks down how people perform local search. The top 5 items include:
- Search Engine (36%)
- Visited a specific site on that subject (15%)
- Read customer reviews (7%)
- Looked at an online directory (7%)
- Used a coupon or deals app site (6%)
As I think about the hyperlocal digital publishers that we work with, I realize that they have the ability to provide all five of these items. In fact, some of them already do! What they aren’t doing (yet) is letting their readers and consumers in general know that they have this content, and make it as easy as possible for people to find it. Specifically, here’s what a hyperlocal publisher can do with each of these items:
- Used a coupon or deals app site – Many hyperlocal sites already have a coupon or deals section of their site. This is easy to setup and manage. One of the benefits for hyperlocal is that they can guarantee all the deals are relevant in their community. In fact, there’s likely no place better to find a denser set of relevant deals.
- Looked at an online directory – Bizyhood’s directory has made this an easy fit for many hyperlocal publishers. The key here is to make sure you have a directory of all the businesses in your community and that the directory stays active and current. There are significant SEO benefits to have an active community which is why this is likely in the top 5.
- Read customer reviews – many of you know our strong thoughts on this. Feedback is going to replace reviews as the common means to learn about a business online. The key is people want to know a bit about a business’s character and personality. You don’t get that just from an ad. Customers talking about a business (and the business responding) give a great indication of what a business is all about.
- Visited a specific site on the subject – Hyperlocal Digital Publisher’s cover their community more comprehensively than any other site and know more about their community than anyone. These publisher’s need to market themselves as the experts and purveyors of the best local information. Because they are.
- Search Engine – I left the best for last purposely, because this is the area that local publishers must improve. The search engine on most publisher sites simply return articles that match the requested search. They don’t return Events, Business Info, Coupons, Promotions, Customer Reviews! If a local publisher returned all this information in a search, they would truly become the “one stop resource” for all things local that people are looking for.
The truth is that hyperlocal publishers have the ability to serve up the absolute best, up to date and most authoritative local information possible. This is a tremendous new opportunity that they must take advantage of. It will serve the needs of their local business owners and their readers for this new era of mobile and local “intent based” search.