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Whats new in local & mobile search– SMX 2011

Local. What’s not local these days… According to Google about 30% of all search queries have local intent. Good job I’m in the 4th session of the day here at SMX 2011 then, where Local & Mobile search are being put on centre stage.

The speaker line-up is as if SMX has created it’s very own Audioslave or Velvet revolver, bringing together the very best local search minds out there… It’s all set to be a cracker!

I thought it also worth noting that if you want an audio Google Local treat; David Mihm, Martijn Beijk and Lisa Myers were on a webmaster radio show on which they discussed in detail some of the points below and more… Listen to it right here (well, from Webmaster Radio really), right now.

Philippe Huysmans – Director, Microsoft

Philippe starts of and immediately it sounds like an interesting and insightful plan. He gives us an insight into how Microsoft looks at local; when they discuss local they are talking about both PC & mobile. Even more interesting is how Philippe & Microsoft look at local search as if it’s a dating cycle:

-          1st date – tentative searches

-          Dating – refine query

-          Marriage – found your product, make a decision

I personally love the association with romance, nothing better than a feel good local search eh. When you are on your 1st date, you are influenced heavily by outside influences.

-          37% of those exposed to outdoor ads will turn to mobile search.

-          38% of those submitted to T.V. ads will move to mobile search.

Don’t know about you, but I think those are pretty decent percentage figures!! I guess figures like these definitely give a holistic marketing approach a pat on the back.

Bing business portal – launched last month in US. Free of charge, a definite must for anyone with Local profiles & definitely one to watch in terms of market share when it’s launched in Europe…

On to the dating phase, a good phase in any relationship I might add. In this phase you are communicating with your friends, which has resulted in a 50% increase in consumers trusting their social network for product recommendations… Don’t recommend anything bad peeps, I just might buy it. A couple of great percentage points followed:

PC & Mobile Query intent – 70% of consumers on pc will complete their purchase in 1 month

Mobile – 70% complete a purchase within an hour!

Thought – Does this mean considered purchases aren’t made on mobile devices? Or is it that mobile customers are more promiscuous?

78% of customers want deals or promotions. Not only then should you always have a promotion running; but this also works well with the promotions section on your Google Local profile & I would guess the Bing Business Portal (speculative).

-          Beta – Store logos are in the process of being added to Bing Maps. Giving you another search angle.

Marriage – time to put up or shut up. A lot of interesting figures came out of this part of the relationship, the notable ones being:

-          90% of smart phone users utilise mobile search

-          84% use search as part of their shopping activity

-          46% of smart phone users compare prices in stores – meaning that mobile customers like off-line ones have doubt/commitment issues.

I guess this compounds the importance of being price competitive, including reviews and importantly offers!

Philippe leaves us with the underlying message that local and mobile are intertwined and that in the foreseeable future this is going to be the case. He and Bing are going to be focusing on it and I think Google will too.

David Mihm – Getlisted

A lot of anticipation surrounds David’s discussions on local and for very good reason indeed. If I may also add that David does go through slides like they are going out of fashion, hence the shorthand nature of this recap.

New to local

-          Local listings

-          Places reviews

-          Local PPC

-          Facebook

-          Twitter

-          QR code

-          Mobile apps

David suggest that the USA does Google local better than those in the UK. From the information I have read I would definitely agree with that. But why is this? David asks. He also answers:

-          The ability to convert pre-website

-          Data accuracy

-          Date completeness

He goes into more detail about some of the cool advancements which have happened to Google Places lately such as;

-          Google Products results being localised

-          Being able to book or order items directly from the page

-          The addition of sentiment snippets underneath photos

In general it seems that Google are really trying to up the functionality of Google Places.

David also believes that Google are seriously looking at user behaviour data in their Places ranking algorithm. These could range from CTRs to number of comments (not sure sentiment is being analysed though).

A VERY COOL TIP – using Insights for search – allows you to drill down by geography, allows you to get local volume and find out what people are talking about.

David re-iterated what he has seemingly always said that; citations continue to be the essential factor for ranking well – it’s the local equivalent of a link!!

Local search ecosystem is a mad looking load of different citation sources. It is extremely important that you submit to the relevant citation hubs for your business. In the UK geographic citation links are more valuable from anywhere else.

Look on competitors places page – figure out which are ranking well and use this information to your advantage.

Tool – use the Whitespark!

David also suggests looking at the sites which are ranking organically for your search term, and try to focus building citations from them. Look for high authority sites, the .govs etc if they reference citations

A great list of best practise tips:

-          Create a unique indexable page for each location

-          Make sure the address is coded in HTML

-          Use HCard to send super signals

-          Use geographic terminology in sitemap and internal links

-          Use the location page as the page you submit to Google Places

-          If you have multiple locations try to keep the IA as flat as possible

-          Cross-link nearby locations

-          Submit a KML sitemap – uses latitude and longitude information!!

Martijn Beijk

Wow, this is a full service local session. Martijn is going to be talking about how to track the tips which David suggested you apply to your Google Places page.

Martijn breaks it down into a hierarchy or information from Local information. He says that all those using Google Places should continually refine and optimise their listing. Martijn discussed the fact that data can be pulled from the Google dashboard – could be some really interesting angles to work there.

He explains that the traditional tracking method requires using 301 redirects with a campaign tracking URL appended to the redirect.

He goes on to explain that blended search has resulted in some links dropping the tracking code, making us all ponder what source to trust. Consensus is they are added to ‘organic’ traffic.

Martijn says we need to dig deeper, and I agree. You need to look at GA visitors and segment them via a number of angles:

-          Segment via customVar

-          Segment via those which have visited local pages

-          Visited store locator pages

-          Detect behavioural differences – mobile users?

Martijn advocates the use of advocating tools; I am in fact an advocate for advocating the use of advocating tools! He recommends you find a way of qualifying the visits. Maybe create a survey and find out for definite how they got there.

Darrin Clement – Maponics

OOoooh a term I haven’t heard before… Geofencing. Ears prick up.

Darrin explains that a geofence is a virtual polygon fence which when entered results in an actions happening.

Apparently there are 3 types of geofence:

-          Static – geofence does not change

-          Dynamic – when data range is changing – i.e. Car parking space available

-          Peer  to peer – social networking platform, i.e. you want to know if your mates are in the fence

You can cross into a geofence, you can be there or you can leave after a certain time. Thus you get the check-in, check-out model – which will be re-invigorated as companies figure out how to market with it.

Darrin shows a map of Chicago – which doesn’t look as cold as I was told it would. The concept of geofencing has been around for decades, but data has only been made available for the last couple of years.

One way of looking at it is – Imagine you set up a bubble around a shop, every time a customer comes into that fence they are prompted with an offer (or some action).

Potential downsides:

-          How do you know customers will be receptive

-          How do you know how big it needs to be – too small already there – to big don’t care.

The method of combating these negatives is to set- up a pre-defined Geofence – using actual geographic areas to target. For example; a shopping district or known shopping area. If you use a radius you might be targeting areas which doesn’t contain potential customers!


Tracking as completely as possible? In store surveys, requesting emails, making them purchase from in the store. Coupons are also a great way to incentivise and track local ads. By the sounds of it though it is all about ensuring the business strategy encourages the tracking.

Use of 0800 numbers – Must have a local number and potentially use as an additional one, but never the primary version.

How to claim all your local places– David states, where you can enter your details and theoretically claim multiple site variations.

Mobile SEO best practises – make it immediate focused, but use the same theory as you would for local. Be xhtml compliant and have as usual a focus on user experience.

Geofences – in order to set up campaigns use a company like Placecast, it’s not something which can be set-up on a whim.

Final thoughts – Search is not often explicit in mobile devices it is applied by what they are doing and where they are.

Final Thoughts – Clean up data & make sure your data reflects the information on your locations page.

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One thought on “Whats new in local & mobile search– SMX 2011

  1. David Ewing

    Wow!! the most shocking point to me was that when they use mobile 70% complete a purchase within an hour! That is just amazing! I wonder how long until PC viewing of the web makes up the smallest share or views!