We all know that mobile searches…well, mobile everything is certainly making waves, however, local searches are growing 50 percent faster than mobile searches overall.
Which is a really good development for small and local business. Whether you’re an eCommerce operation or you’re a brick & mortar business, local optimization can be crucial to your growth for the near future.
Important Local SEO review:
Now, why are we telling you this? Well, if you’re new to the local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) realm, having your business optimized on a local scale can mean more business faster & more easily than traditional SEO that may bring your consumers from all over who are searching for your terms or what your business does.
Since becoming a prominent marketing strategy, Local optimization has become extremely competitive.
For example, when a consumer would search for a product or service, but inserted a geo-tag along with the rest of the search, Google’s algorithm would see that as you trying to find goods and services closest to you and therefore, you were scouring the local market closest to you that would be able to facilitate your need on a local scale.
Now that we think about it, who wouldn’t want to search for their desired outcome locally, right? It just makes sense.
Well, Google thought so as well. So, after adding the geo-tag, Google would bring up what they called the “7-Pack” into your search results, where you would have the top 7 LOCAL goods or service providers to fulfill your need. Sounds amazing, right? By just being semi-locally optimized, you may only have to compete with 6 other local providers for that sale. You’re probably thinking, that’s a heck of a lot easier than on a national scale (as with some traditional SEO strategies).
As we all know Google wants to make life as easy as possible for the consumer, however, they also cut local businesses a break to! When conducting a local search, consumers would be supplied with only 3 search results now or the “3-Pack.” Sounds even too good to be true to local businesses, right? In a sense, yes, however, now Google is saying that you must be as locally optimized possible for us to place you in the “3-Pack” of local search.
So, the local optimization craze was boosted even further, however, recently, there has been a HUGE change…
On June 21st, at the SMX Advanced Local Workshop, Google confirmed that ads are coming to the Local Pack. The timing and precise appearance/placement are to be determined.
During the pre-conference Workshop, Google’s Global Product Lead for Local Ads, Ali Turhan, discussed some of the new AdWords features as they pertain to local. Among them, he showed a screen shot (below), which Joy Hawkins tweeted, but which is not officially authorized for distribution at this point.
The image (above) showed a smartphone featuring a local 3-pack. The top listing was an ad, followed by two organic listings. Turhan said that this had been shown at Google’s Performance Summit in San Francisco several weeks ago. However, the announcement had not been part of any of the keynotes.
Turhan, who did an extensive Q&A with the audience, explained that Google was still testing, and the ultimate result might be different from what he showed. Accordingly, it’s possible (though Turhan didn’t say this) that there might be a Local Pack ad and three organic listings. However, that wasn’t what the screen shot reflected.
For the top Local Pack listing to be an ad is obviously a major development, especially in a local-mobile search context.
Google has experimented with ads in Google Maps off and on for years. But in the “mobile first” era, it’s getting much more serious about ads on Maps.
Among a number of announcements coming out of Google’s Performance Summit today, the company is introducing the “next generation of local search ads” on Google and Google Maps (apps and mobile web). The company is also bringing what it calls more “branded and customized experiences” for marketers to Google Maps.
Recently, it began showing ads in the Local Finder. Now, the company is introducing “promoted pins” or “promoted locations” on Maps (below). Users will see branded pins along their route or nearby. It’s worth noting that Mapquest has done this for quite a few years.
Marketers will need to use location extensions to appear in promoted pins. Google also says it’s still testing and experimenting with formats, so we’re likely to see an evolution of this over time.
New-look local pages will also offer new features and customization.
Businesses will be able to include a range of content types, as appropriate to their category.
- For example, retailers can include local product inventory (provided they have an inventory feed going to Google). Marketers can also include promotions and discounts to encourage store visits.
Indeed, the purpose of these ads is to drive offline foot traffic and conversions, which Google says are outpacing e-commerce transactions for many marketers. To capture and illustrate that phenomenon, Google discussed its AdWords Store Visits, which has to date only been available to large brands and retailers. The company says that it has “measured over 1 billion store visits globally” in the two years since the introduction of Store Visits.
During the Performance Summit, Google’s AdWords VP, Jerry Dischler, indicated that the company was seeking to greatly expand availability of Store Visits data, including to small businesses over time. He said, however, that was a more challenging proposition and probably would require a “hardware solution” (e.g., beacons) because of challenges with accuracy and scale.
It’s very much in Google’s interest to make online-to-offline metrics available to as many marketers as possible. In a case study presented during a press briefing on Monday, Dischler said that Nissan in the UK found, though Store Visits, that “six percent of mobile ad clicks result in a trip to a dealership, delivering an estimated 25x return on investment.”
While Google has offered a wide range of different “local as a percent of overall mobile search” metrics in the past, the company said that local searches on mobile devices are growing 50 percent faster than mobile searches overall.