Why Local Search Has My Attention

Posted: November 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Business Startup, Search Marketing | Tags: , , | 7 Comments »

I’ve had a growing interest in the mobile space- particularly around mobile search and developing a business that caters to local searchers in a useful way.

First, a bit of context on Why it has my attention and interest.

Stay with me while I share some tidbits on local search and some of the current goings-on.

Local Search Statistics

Here are a few quick stats I’ve read:

  • Microsoft’s Bing search estimate 53% of mobile users search for local purposes
  • Google estimates that 20% of ALL SEARCHES have a local intent
  • The SERP’s (Search Results) on Google are prioritizing local content more and more

Around this last point regarding the changes at Google, if you haven’t seen the recent changes to Google’s SERP’s then take a look these screen shots below that were taken today 11/16/10…

Changes to Local Search Results on Google

This first image below is a Google search query simply for “lawyers.” Google immediately assumes that the searches intent is local, they automatically read my IP address and geo-target my search… and then display a map and loads the left hand column results with location/places with alphabetical Place Pins. In this case those denote lawyers by location.

screenshot of localized search results at Google

screenshot of localized search results at Google

This second image is a search for “San Francisco coffee shops.” You’ll see how the entire left column of natural search results is filled by location/Places content instead of simply links to top ranking websites for this keyword phrase.

Google Local Search Results including City Name

Google Local Search Results including City Name

The focus on localized search results and local content by many of the biggest companies including Google and Facebook (with Facebook Places), and hence the growth in this space in terms of the aggregation and serving of localized ads/content is pretty fascinating.

So that explains a little bit about Why I’m interested in the space.

Seeing Opportunities In Local Search & Mobile Users

Of course, being a tinkerer with tech and systems and an entrepreneur, I couldn’t help but start to think about what new and better ways there might be of providing value to users on the go when they search with their mobile device in a specific location and want to search or discover something new.

And after taking in what I’ve just thrown at you and more for the last 6 months or so, an idea has stuck in my head for a new business in the space.

Here’s where it’s getting interesting though:

How do you go from big messy idea to implementing a real strategy for not just providing the product/service but for growing your business with users, engagement and revenue? And in this new space – can the same strategies I usually employ to test and launch startups be applied?

Well, in you haven’t ready my blog before I guess I could sum up my philosophy with launching new online businesses in the past as “Choose & Determine Your Market First.”

As in… you need to first test to determine what the existing and CURRENT demand is for what you’re doing, and do it in one or more specific marketing or advertising channels that has the potential to scale the growth of your business to where you’d want to grow it to.

For example, in my Mixergy interview with Andrew Warner on Ensuring Success Before You Launch I discuss evaluating your idea/product by testing it with Google search ads and using the results there in terms of Cost per Conversion and how many Searches and Clicks are available for qualified keywords.

So in the interests of taking my own medicine, one of the first places I’ve started is by seeing how the idea and concept of what I would build might do by first TESTING a vary simple version of my idea. Long story short, I’ve boiled down the idea to it’s simplest form and have begun testing it on the actual CHANNELS where people would discover and want to use my idea – on mobile devices.

To do so I’ve started using a variety of the mobile ad platforms out there including in app advertisements (location and phone platform specific)… as well as using local search results ads (primarily Google)… all in an effort to learn some of the following:

  • In paid ads, what are the average CPM’s and CPC’s out there?
  • How hard is it to rank for key terms in local areas on Google given location-targeted content?
  • How do mobile users/searches behave differently and what do they respond to and not respond to?
  • If I had a mobile site, or mobile app – how much would it cost on average to drive a new visitor, subscriber or app install?
  • What are the most efffective revenue models in this space?

These are just a few of the very rudimentary questions I’ve started to answer and am testing for. I might share more as things evolve, but I’m busy and this is a part time “pet project” for now.

If you’re doing anything interesting in the mobile or local space and want to connect post a Comment here please. I’m looking for learning resources and to get to know some smart people in the local search, local SEO and mobile space.

Talk soon~