The last Earned track session of the day, The Future of Local Search: 5 Layers of Local, with presenters Howard Lerman, CEO & Co-Founder, Yext, and Gregg Stewart, President, North America, Geary LSF. The main components of local search listings are commonly known as NAP: name, address, phone. However, local has also grown to include ratings and reviews, photos, menus, offerings, and hours.
Business listings are distributed via direct publishers like Google Places and Facebook, and distribution networks like Yext. Stewart pointed out that there’s no single NAP data authority where you can find every business’ information, like phone books used to provide. All local search platforms may have varying data. Therefore, it is up to the businesses themselves to include their contact and basic NAP information, as well as available inventory, pricing, and promotions as part of a local citation building process.
Additionally, having complete and congruent local citations are important because online business presence influences a potential customer’s impression of the business as a whole. Furthermore, when customers interact with local search, it creates user generated data that can make or break a business or brand. It is up to businesses must monitor and moderate this.
Proximity and Relevance
Proximity and relevance are the key areas when looking at the future of local search. Consumers thirst for much more data than NAP when deciding which local business to patronize. However, algorithms will eventually grow to better understand context in user’s local search, making them much more relevant.
For instance, if someone searches “lunch” on a local directory or a site like Yelp, they may not get good results, as Lunch isn’t always a category that can be easily searched.
Smartphones will continue to have a huge importance in local search. In a recent 2012 survey, 86% of respondents reported that they use smartphones for local search. This means that marketers need to base content on the type of interface a user is utilizing. Devices fuel the need for responsive design.
Transactions and Delivery
Both speakers agreed that facilitating transactions will continue to be key when moving forward in the local search space. This means that online directories and review sites will also allow users to purchase the actual food or item they are looking for, without having to go to the local business or to an external e-commerce platform.
This also goes hand in hand with delivery, with local search platforms also offering delivery to their users as a partnership with the local businesses. This is not a new concept, but is getting smarter.
Main Session Takeaways
- It is up to the businesses themselves to include their contact and basic NAP information, as well as available inventory, pricing, and promotions as part of a local citation building process.
- 86% of respondents reported that they use smartphones for local search.
- Transaction and delivery will be integrated into local search platforms, so they provide a central resource for consumers.