New research from Silicon Valley agency Milestone Inc reveals how local and organic search generate more traffic, produce higher engagement rates and it converts at higher revenue rates per transaction than other channels.
Methodology: Millions of Sessions and Page Views Analyzed
The Milestone Inc research paper analyzed 500 location based businesses, their sessions and page views in order to understand which channels produced more earnings at the best ROI.
According to Milestone Inc:
“Milestone Research reviewed over 500 location-based websites, 63 million sessions, and 176 million page views over 18 months from Jan 2020 to June 2021 to generate these findings.”
Top Performing Channels
Organic search was the top performing channel, followed by local search.
What was especially interesting was that referral traffic came in third. Referral traffic can be traffic from sites like Angi (formerly Angies List), Yelp, Home Advisor and so on.
I once heard Brett Tabke (@btabke), founder of Pubcon (@Pubcon) search marketing conference, speak about promoting a website where he said that there is no better source of traffic than a referral from a source that is trusted. He said that those referrals convert at a higher rate and result in higher enthusiasm by customers.
My professional experience following that advice validated his observation.
There is something special about a website telling their audience about how great another site is as part of a strategy for obtaining more traffic because the visitors are ready to embrace the site before they even visit it.
Local search today has many options for obtaining quality recommendations from trusted third party websites.
Referral Results in More Page Views
An interesting finding was that traffic from referrals resulted in higher engagement rates.
Milestone Inc’s research showed that referral traffic was responsible for nearly 10% of traffic.
According to the research, optimizing for third party referrals is an important channel to optimize for.
According to the research paper:
“Referral traffic is the 3rd largest contributor to website traffic with 9.4% of overall traffic. Referral traffic is the visits to your website from the links on different sites. It is a recommendation from one website to another.
The data indicates that generating quality backlinks and external sources is a good source to generate web traffic.”
This is how the different channels ranked for traffic:
- Organic: 46.5%
- Local: 22.6%
- Referral: 9.4%
- Paid Search: 8% of website traffic.
- Other: 13.6%
A big takeaway is that local search deserves to be fully optimized, from taking full advantage of Google My Business (GMB), building third party referrals, improving SEO and utilizing every opportunity to increase visibility in search.
Milestone Inc’s researchers observed:
“Organic and Local Search together is the best combination for driving website traffic with 69% session share and 73% page view share. But given the data, they turn out to be the most reliable, resilient, and high-performing channels. Local gives the best ROI with the highest page views per session compared to other channels.”
Milestone Inc offered these ten tips for optimizing the local search visibility:
- Complete and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) Profile
- Make your business name, URL, address information consistent across all channels
- Add Schema structured data
- Put a strong focus on the mobile user experience
This can mean optimizing for core web vitals but also to make sure that the mobile version feels familiar and easy to use. That means consciously designing the page for mobile and signing off on the design only when it performs flawlessly on mobile.
- Voice Optimization (actions and skills on Google Assistant and Alexa)
- Add FAQs
FAQs means Frequently Asked Questions. This is an interesting recommendation because at the heart of it is the reality that potential customers have questions and they ask them in search. Thinking of common questions and then answering them on the website within an FAQ context is a good way to capture those question-type local search queries. Businesses can also use FAQ schema structured data in order to qualify for rich results specific to FAQs.
- Search optimization
Nowadays SEO for local is more than just adding keywords. Optimizing also includes promoting the idea that the local business is expert, trustworthy and authoritative.
- Clear CTAs
CTAs are Call to Actions. Those are the “contact us” boxes that a potential customer can use to initiate a transaction or call for information. Because at 50% or more of local traffic is mobile, this also means making it easy for customers to click to call.
- Make the site accessible
This is a big one. This isn’t just about hearing or sight impaired customers, either. Something like color choice is very important to the many people who are color blind. The wrong choice of colors for buttons can ruin the user experience for customers with disabilities and cost a potential sale. Why leave money on the table, right?
- Event calendar
Read the full article and download the research paper:
Organic Search and Local Drive 69% of Digital Traffic for Location-Based Businesses