The Anatomy of a Search Engine Result
Do you find it difficult to decipher the different components of Google’s search results these days? You’re not alone. It’s hard for professional SEOs, let alone local business owners, to figure out how and from where Google is surfacing various pieces of information. Knowing which search engine results represent paid advertisements vs. natural or organic results vs. social results vs. local results is basically a full-time job!
For local queries in particular, Google tends to return results that include a blend of both website and Local information—mostly stemming from Google+ Local pages.
Here’s a screenshot of what that looks like. Note that for this query, “car insurance,” the searcher does not even need to specify where he’s looking for car insurance—Google guesses his location based on a variety of signals.
Since the Spring of 2012, Google has returned an increasing percentage of these “blended” results for local queries—meaning it’s important to optimize not only your website, but your Google+ Local page, and all associated local and social media profiles.
Conceptualizing the Online Landscape
This graphic is meant to represent the influence of both organic search ranking factors (things related to your website) and social media factors (such as reviews left for your business on your Google+ Local Page, Yelp, Citysearch, and other sites around the web).
In order to truly succeed in local search marketing, your business will need to make both organic and social media efforts. But not every business should focus on the same mix of techniques to achieve success.
Where Should You Prioritize Your Resources?
If your business sells products or services to customers located in your geographic area, optimizing for local search will almost always be a must for you. Both Google and Bing have indicated that over 20% of all desktop search queries are local in nature and that somewhere around 50% of queries on mobile phones and tablets are local. These percentages will only increase in the coming years.
Depending on your business model, local search may be a key component of your overall marketing mix. But it shouldn’t necessarily be the first place you start with your online marketing.
Many factors like the age of your website, whether you have someone available in-house to work on your online marketing, and the physical location of your business all influence whether local search should be your primary focus, or whether you might be better served taking a look at organic search or social media first.