A lot of what I do in my day job is work with local businesses (flooring stores) to help them improve traffic to their websites. These owners are experts in product, not Google. For 3 years I’ve faced the challenge of helping them in understanding local search, what it is, and why it is so important. As an SEO and web designer, I know the importance of local search for a small business. Local search can make or break a business in today’s digital environment. That said, often times I’m faced with the difficult challenge of explaining this importance without getting into the technical weeds of SEM vs SEO, SERPs, etc.
Today I read an article on Search Engine Land that used a simple metaphor for explaining this complex topic to small business owners, and I couldn’t be more greatful. Check out this article here: Need Help Explaining Local Search? Use Pizza!
The Pizza Metaphor for Understanding Local Search
The best insight from this article is that to make local search digestible for a small business, it’s best to relate it to a metaphor. In the case of this article, that metaphor was Pizza Delivery.
When you search for “pizza delivery” on your smartphone, Google delivers to you pizza delivery stores that are closest to your location – even without you entering your location! Let’s say you do this search in your office. At the end of the day you drive 30 miles to your home and do the same search. The results will update to the pizza stores closest to your home. That’s the beauty of local search. Google is identifying what is most relevant to you by combing your search with your location and serving up the best possible result.
Google has a lot of years in this game
Why is Local Important?
Google has a lot of years in this game. Their experience has led the search engine to know which keywords indicate that the user is looking for a local store vs. an online website. If you search “Pizza Delivery”, Google will serve up local results first, since you are likely looking to order pizza at that moment from a local restaurant.
If you search for “Best Laptop in 2015”, sure it’s possible that you are looking for a consumer electronics store, but it’s more likely that you are looking for an article detailing which laptops are the best to purchase in 2015. In this case, Google will serve up the organic listings without any local results. Once you’ve decided on a laptop and your are ready to purchase, you may search for “electronics store” and Google will serve up the local listings first showing all electronics stores in your area.
The nuances of search dictate which results display. In the case of a local store, optimizing your site and your Google+ page to appear in the searches that drive local results in Google is essential.
What Does Google+ Have to Do With It?
Let’s push the pizza metaphor further. 10 years ago when you were looking for pizza delivery you’d turn to a phone book, not an encyclopedia. Today think of Google+ as the phone book on steroids. Google has access to all local businesses and you can find anything you are looking for with a quick and simple keyword search. However, you still need to ensure that your listing exists. Like you used to call Yellowpages and add your listing to their book, today you go to Google and make sure your local business has a Google+ page.
Keeping that information up-to-date is key, as fresh/correct content on a Google+ page can drive you to beat out the pizza shop down the street.
Contact me if you want to learn more about local search. I’m always happy to chat about search engine topics.