To use a football analogy, local search is in many ways the deep-lying playmaker of the digital marketing world. Instead of being able to link defence and attack with a silky 40-yard centre half splitting pass, local search’s best attribute is in its bond between eCommerce and retail.
For example, when Google released its insights into building a mobile centric strategy they claimed that 88% of all “near me” searches are conducted on mobile devices, to which this is a statistic that has grown by 146% year on year.
Regardless of the type of industry that you may specialise in, “near me” searches are found to cover a large number of sectors and services including hotels, clothing stores, banks and probably even fishing tackle shops too. Despite the large number of “near me” searches, users still conduct a vast range of local searches relating to opening hours, directions and contact details.
If we start to peel back a few more layers, we can clearly see how influential local search is to both online and offline shopping experiences. It was recently suggested that 72% of all those that conduct a local search will visit the business premises within one day of searching. Ultimately, from the percentage of local searchers who will visit a physical store or outlet, 61% will inevitably make a purchase.
As an experienced digital marketing agency we’re well aware of the importance of having strong presence at a local level, as local search results must ensure they’re inviting, inspirational andl informative for them to be successful. In fact, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the good, the bad and the ugly of local search listings.
The Good – Turtle Bay
Their cocktails may be watered down slightly (allegedly), but their local search presence is far from that. For starters (no pun intended), they’re in top spot for “caribbean restaurants near me”, however the information provided in their listing, as well as the dedicated, mobile optimised landing page they have available for that specific restaurant is what really sets it apart. Plus, being able to make a reservation is just a few clicks away.
The Bad – Starbucks
At the time of writing, there’s approximately 14 Starbucks in the vicinity of Manchester City Centre (probably 15 by the time you’ve finished reading this article), but when we investigate their local search experience it’s about as consistent as their yearly tax returns.
For a brand that strives for consistency and uniformity across all of its outlets, they can really benefit from polishing up their local search presence. Although each location is provided with a unique listing and set of opening times, they’re all badly let down by a clear lack of relevant or inspiring images. Take a look at 129 Deansgate, there must be a Starbucks around here somewhere.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much better when you click through to their website either. For example, there’s no specific landing page for their Sackville Street outlet, but there is for others in Manchester City Centre.
So, let’s try and locate the Sackville Street coffeehouse by using their ‘find a store’ functionality. By doing so, we’ve been redirected to Starbucks outlets in Manchester, New Hampshire (we even used the .co.uk site). Whoops…start again, or maybe just find the closest Greggs. Well, this is Manchester after all.
The Ugly – Coral
If I was a betting man, the chances of locating my nearest Coral outlet are slim to none. Not only do they lack any basic information relating to opening times, but when you’re eventually redirected to the Coral website you land on the homepage, rather than anything related to that specific shop.
Although this experience may be optimised for mobile, locating the store locater on this type of device is virtually impossible. This function is only visible on desktop devices, to which no information relating to opening hours or contact details is ever provided. Nice work, Coral.
When it comes to recognising the value of a local SEO strategy, there’s certainly a correlation between online and offline experiences, as local search is often referred to the bridge between the two. In order to stay in front of your nearest and dearest, we suggest consistency is key, especially if you have multiple outlets, but just don’t forget to maximise your local search potential with dedicated landing pages that are inviting, informative and inspirational.