Last Wednesday (12th February 2014) I had the opportunity to talk at one of the last SES events (before it becomes Clickz Live) in London on Local Search with Gregg Stewart. In the talk I discussed the growing influence of local, with 1 in 3 searches now classified as having local intent – up from 1 in 5 from figures I found back in 2011.
Off the 2 trillion odd queries undertaken each year, over 720 Billion of those are locally orientated. Mobile in these queries plays a massive part with over 50% of mobile queries having local intent – a massive factor in the growth that we have seen in mobile. Mobile penetration as you would imagine has been a fundamental part of this – with mobile penetration now standing at around 62%. In terms of how this affects searches, this varies considerably by vertical with sectors such as travel and automotive enjoying far more cut through in terms of mobile breakout (over 40%) in comparison to the likes of Finance where mobile queries only account for just over 25% (Banking 24%/Insurance 28%)
Much of this has led to Google having to rethink how they classify websites and what results ultimately you see as a browser. Venice went a long way towards dealing with local intent – and with the launch of Hummingbird Google are now in a position to deal with natural language queries and better classification of content.
What I would add is that organic techniques are not necessarily the best way to increasingly tackle the local search conundrum. Paid Search results are increasingly taking up greater and greater real estate on the page, with many results I observed during the research for the presentation now occupying upwards of 90% of the available real estate on the search pages. As a result, organic is now being squezzed off the page – and opportunities such as Location based bid optimisation, Location extensions and call extensions will increasingly play a more important part in ensuring that advertisers can maximise their cut-through in the search results.
As a final point I went on to say that reviews will increasingly become part of the local landscape – as the integration of Google+ throughout the Google eco-system continues. We are increasingly seeing personalisation and social proofing break out into the mainstream results – and I would not be surprised to see much more evolution of this throughout the course of 2014 and beyond.