Local Search Trends & What They Mean for Small Business Marketing

How mobile and local search trends impacts local marketing

I recently had the pleasure of hearing a variety of digital marketing experts address local search marketing trends at the 2016 RocksDigital Conference in Dallas. One popular influencer, Greg Sterling, VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association and Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land, spoke about the state of local search marketing. Here are a few key search trends that he discussed and ways local businesses can leverage these trends when building their marketing strategies.

Research & Reviews Are Important to Buyers

In his presentation, Greg touched on an important local marketing channel that’s often neglected by small businesses: local listings and review sites like Google Maps and Yelp. He cited that 84% of American consumers are influenced by reviews, ratings, and price comparisons on local products and services.

What this Means for Local Marketing: Since these local sites rely heavily on a) business information and b) customer reviews, it’s vital that you’re optimizing them portray a robust, accurate, and positive view of your business.

Related: Tips to Improve Your Local Listings

Online Search is Predominantly Mobile

This isn’t a new concept, but here are a few stats Greg reported about just how important mobile is to local marketing today:

What this Means for Local Marketing: It’s a multi-screen world, but mobile is the screen of choice for many local consumers. So, make sure you’re not only marketing to them there, but also delivering a great mobile site experience to your potential buyers.

Voice Search is Local 

What is voice search? Have you ever used your voice to ask your smartphone where to eat or how to get somewhere via Siri, Cortana, or Google? If so, then you’ve conducted a voice search. And, there’s a good chance this search was for local information – in fact, 40% of voice searches have local intent. These “voice assistants” built into smartphones, connected cars, televisions, and even those that exist as standalone devices like the Amazon Echo are transforming the way consumers search yet again.

What this Means for Local Marketing: Voice search is undoubtedly influencing how search engines understand and respond to search queries. What this means for your businesses is that creating conversational, useful content on your site improve its ability to rank for searches for your products and services. This can not only help you get more visitors to your site, but it can also help you convert more of those visitors into leads.

Analytics Help SMBs Understand Consumers’ Purchase Path

While certain industries and verticals have relatively predictable buying cycles, it’s still hard to pinpoint which specific sources of information influence a consumer’s purchase decision. Did you know that 82% of shoppers consult their smartphones for purchases they’re about to make in store, even after they’ve done research?

With the number of marketing channels growing constantly (Pokémon Go, anyone?), local marketers are even more challenged to identify what’s working to help them them leads and sales: Search engines? Their business website? Social media? Email? Local listings? Television ads? Print advertising?

What this Means for Local Marketing: As a local business, implementing an analytics solution that helps you understand exactly where all your leads are coming from can help you start to answer these questions. Technology like ReachEdge can enable you to track which specific marketing channels, sites, and campaigns are driving traffic and sales to your business. Imagine what these types of local small business marketing trends and insights could mean for not only your marketing, but also for your business.

Are these local buying behaviors impacting your marketing? What other search trends do you think are most important to the SMB and local marketing space?

Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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