The rise of the smartphone brought with it the revolutionary ability to search online whilst on the move, away from the restrictions of desktop search. Smartphones can now provide location based searches of nearby services to make everything accessible, even in unfamiliar territory - from nearby coffee stops to local hairdresser options, everything is on our doorstep. A huge 90% of retail sales still occur in physical stores, with smartphones bridging the gap between online research and in-store purchases. Make sure that when users are searching online, they are led right to your door by ensuring that your company appears in local search. Prioritising local search is crucial for retailers to drive in-store footfall.
Local search is the location extension that can be added to an AdWords account or set up through Google My Business. When a customer searches for an advertised product or service, local search means that results within the local area will be ranked in order of proximity to the device that they have searched on. In short, this is the 'near me' search that often appears when searching in Google Maps. As local search has become increasingly synonymous with Google Maps, now a standard feature of most mobile devices, making full use of this function is key to getting an edge over your competitors. A massive one third of all mobile searches are related to location. Perfecting the art of using your online presence to entice footfall into your physical premises should be a key part of your marketing efforts as it can be hugely effective.
Due to the increased reliability of Google Maps, with easy navigation of regularly updated routes and accurate business information, the app is gradually replacing and outdating the more traditional sat nav devices. Google Maps no longer merely provides potential routes, but updates routes in transit and supplies details of businesses en route, opening up a whole new marketing potential for consumers and business owners alike. The features of local search take the first steps in making unfamiliar territory easy to navigate and to serve a specific purpose. The online function effectively guides local shoppers to your bricks and mortar store, so it is essential that your customers can find you online.
The importance of local search
The internet has become the most well known and well used tool in the consumer's search for local business information, and the last two years has seen a 40% increase in 'near me' searches. Combine this with the increasing prominence of smartphones and improved mobile connections and this goes a long way in explaining the rise of the local search (and a focus on 'mobile-first'). As such, you have likely noticed, that Google treats almost all searches as local. With its super transportable nature, smartphones and local search go hand-in-hand. This said, desktop local search is still holding its own.
The rise in popularity of local search
As the overlap between the online and physical world is increasingly blurred for many businesses, bridging this gap by providing a service that is mutually beneficial for both consumer and business is more and more important. Whilst it may seem like the high street has been dying a slow death, way back in May 2016 the Google Performance Summit presented figures that told a very different story. The figures emphasised the importance of seamlessly blending the online and in-store experience, and it is doubtful that these numbers have done anything but increase.
- 90% of all global sales happen in physical stores
- Over a billion people now use Google Maps
- ¾ of people searching for something nearby using their smartphone will visit a shortlisted store within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.
This video produced by Google, shows just how these numbers play out as 'Micro Moments'. Local search is all about positioning yourself online to attract the customers that are actively looking for your service.
Local search in practice
Local search capitalises on your local audience, showcasing services that are local, available and relevant. Employing the functionality correctly will boost rankings and attract a more captive audience - convenience and practicality are incredibly influential factors in the purchasing journey. There is a steady rise in local searches resulting in an offline purchase – according to Nissan UK data, 6% of mobile local search ads result in a trip to a dealership. Utilising local search gives you the edge on your competitors by ensuring that not only will your business be visible online but will also promote visits in-store, encourage enquiries and supply a more comprehensive impression of your business by offering an online inventory of items available in-store, as well as business hours, photos, services and descriptions.
Capitalise on local search
There are two ways to set up local search: a location extension on Google AdWords, or alternatively, setting up a Google My Business account. Ensure that all business listings are accurate, consistent and up-to-date. With over a billion users utilising Google Maps, a listing on Google My Business is invaluable. However, despite many businesses having a Google My Business listing, if details are sparse and incomplete then visibility online will be limited, and will result in a poor overall Google Maps Ranking.
To achieve the best possible ranking, ensure that all basic business details are entered correctly:
- Input accurate information for your address/business hours/ areas of service
Make full use of the new features
- Include and optimise photos in your listing
- Optimise your introduction showcasing the products and services you provide
- Ensure your reviews appear by listing more than 5 testimonials. Positive reviews will reflect more favourably on your company than negative ones, so make sure your customer service is up to scratch!
- Provide an inventory of your products to entice customer interest/footfall.
Get ahead of the curve and use local search to increase footfall in-store. We look forward to finding you online. For further support on how to capitalise on local search for your business have a look at our SEO services or contact Hydra Creative. We can offer support as an ongoing SEO retainer package to ensure local search works hard for you.