On the second day of SAScon one of the sessions I definitely wanted to see was the Location panel. Chaired by Dom Hodgson from Emberads with a panel consisting of Laurence O’Toole from Analytics SEO, Netbooster’s Teddie Cowell, Malcolm Maybury from 360spin, and Google’s Chris Johnson.
Local Trends & Ad Solutions
After the obligatory introductions the first presentation is from Chris Johnson, who talks about local trends & ad solutions. According to Chris 1 in 3 mobile searches has a local element. He shows an example of a Las Vegas company who utilised their Google Analytics data to customise their mobile campaigns, resulting in strong improvements in conversions.
84% of mobile web users use mobile search to look for retailer info (phone number, address, etc). You can tap in to this with targeted ads on mobile search.
After looking up a local business on a smartphone, 61% of users called and 59% of users visited the business. Google’s Mobile search ads have extensions that can tap in to this: click-to-call, site links, and location extensions.
88% of local information seekers on mobile devices take action within a day. This shows the real-time use case of mobile, and also highlights the importance of mobile payment methods such as Google Wallet to capture that rapidly converting traffic.
Location Based Search
Next up is Teddie Cowell from Netbooster, who talks about location-based search. Google has made location a central element of its SERPs, and he lists a number of SERP updates and stats. The SERPs are changing rapidly with increasingly more location-specific elements.
One example Teddie shows that the sitelinks for a site on the SERPs are dynamically changed depending on where the mobile searcher is, showing a sitelink to the nearest brick & mortar store for a large chain of music stores. Teddie also expects the new Knowledge Graph functionality to see many applications on mobile search.
Lastly Teddie shares a statistic from an upcoming Econsultancy report that shows 28% of businesses see local search as the most valuable search activity
Google Business Photos
Next Malcolm Maybury from 360spin explains a new feature: Business photos on Google Maps, which is sort of a street maps for inside a business. Shown on SERPs and on the Places page, as well as on Maps, these photos allow users to virtually walk through the shop online, and serve as a great enhancement of your local presence on Google.
Local Search is not as big as you think – yet
Wrapping up the session is Laurence O’Toole from Analytics SEO, who starts with an impromptu survey of the room via show of hands. Laurence’s premise is that local search is not yet as big as we think. He believes some of the stats about local search is not ‘real data’ but more best guesses.
Laurence shows a number of research figures around mobile and local search, and expresses his scepticism about them. He went in search of better data, looking at app vs browser search usage and mobile search categories. This data shows that many local searches on mobiles are not that commercially interesting, with many searches for TV shows, football clubs, Facebook, and games.
Searches for local businesses were primarily lookup queries when a user tried to find a business’s phone or address, which is only interesting for that particular business. Laurence continues by saying that while mobile search is growing, the volume of searches worth optimising for is not that substantial. Laurence estimates only 5% of all UK mobile searches are currently local commercial searches.