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Local Search Insights: What Are Consumers in Your Local Area Searching For?

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Restaurants, Financial Services and Beauty Services are among the top business categories local searchers seek information about online, according to the YP.com Local Insights Digital Report for Q3 2012.

Their research, which spans 2 billion searches annually by 11 million mobile unique users per month, sheds much-needed light on growing local search use. Learn which industries, verticals, and types of information people are searching for locally.

Restaurants, Financial, Beauty Consistently Top Local Searches

Restaurants, Financial Services and Beauty Services have topped the local business category searches fairly consistently for the past three quarters. Among the 4,600 business categories in the YP.com Local Ad Network, other most popular ones include Auto Repair & Services, Real Estate, Physicians & Surgeons, Auto Parts, and Building Contractors.

For a different view, YP segmented their business categories into 14 verticals. They found that local searches are most often looking for Business & Professional Services, Shopping, or Food & Dining information.

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What does this mean for your business? Look around the online space for your local area. Are your competitors there? Are your own local business profiles optimized and complete? If not, your company may be missing out on an opportunity to appear in front of potential customers when they’re seeking local business information.

Earlier this year, Search Engine Watch author Carrie Hill offered advice on marketing your small business site, including claiming your Google Local business listing and making sure Bing and Yahoo local listings are up to date. See her post for more on optimizing your site and online profiles for local search.

Growth in Mobile vs. Online Local Searches

Overall, Pool & Spa Services is the business category growing fastest in local search. However, looking at searches performed from a mobile device versus those performed online highlights some interesting differences.

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In Mobile Search, Outdoor Recreation, Landscape & Lawn Services and Home & Garden grew fastest from Q1 to Q2 2012. People are searching for this information while they’re away from their desktop computer and on the go.

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In Online Search, users are most often seeking information on Pool & Spa Services, Boats & Boating, or Outdoor Recreation.

Of course, your own data is the best source for understanding how your own customers are searching and what type of device they use, in order to effectively optimize your site and content for different devices. Use Google Analytics or a similar program to discover how, when, and where people reach your site.

If you aren’t sure how well your site renders for mobile users, try the GoMo tool. Google recently launched their GoMo website tester, which analyzes sites and brings back recommendations for improving the user experience for mobile browsers.

Search Engine Watch author Kristine Schachinger talked mobile site strategy and implementation in a recent article; consider her questions to see what type of strategy might work best for you. Be sure to check out the responsive design resources at the end of her post for more help in getting your mobile strategy right.

YP.com examined the difference between mobile and online search on the East and West coasts and found few differences between the two (see page 5 in the report for details). Interestingly, though, online searches grew 2x faster on the East Coast than the West Coast, while mobile grew at about the same rate in both locales.

The Local Advertising ‘Sweet Spot’

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Another fascinating insight from the YP.com report was the result of an examination of ad click-through rates (CTRs) across 1.5 billion monthly geo-targeted banner ad impressions. The report finds that a user’s distance to the business location does impact their likelihood to click on an ad for that business.

YP.com promises to examine this trend further in an upcoming whitepaper that will be available to download from their Corporate White Papers page. Or, read the full Q3 Local Insights Digital Report for full details and more graphics from this study.

How do you measure the success of your local search marketing and online advertising efforts? Share your own tips in the comments!


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