Why organic search is going local

Ever noticed a map appear on Google during some searches? That’s Google’s local search results and as time goes on this is becoming more and more important for businesses. It makes sense, really, if I live in Manchester and I want to know about theatre events – I want to be shown locations within my vicinity, not hundreds of miles away. Data going back over a year shows that 1 in 3 searches on Google are made with a local intent (over 3.6 billion a month) – that number is likely to have increased since then. Then there’s mobile devices too.

So what does local search mean for your business? It could mean a lot if executed correctly. It could mean a slight decrease in important for raw keyword SEO, overtaken slightly by a focus on localised SEO. You might find it easier to outrank a competitor, given the proximity of where local searches are placed in Google’s search result pages, if that competitor isn’t based closely to you.

Mobile is where local SEO really comes important. Over a billion people use Google Maps every month, more than half of these via mobile devices while out and about – this stat gets as high as 84% if you read the right data. If your business relies, either to some extent or very much so, on organic foot fall like retail or food outlets, then local SEO could be huge for you. Just a couple of weeks ago I was out looking for a drink and a bite to eat in central London, within about two minutes I had located a venue within walking distance, read the reviews and was on my way – half an hour after that I was tucking into a lovely lasagne. Would I have known about that venue without Google maps?

Local SEO can even have a great benefit for you if your business isn’t hugely “local” (in the sense of requiring organic or spontaneous footfall). People might simply be more inclined to choose you if they know you are near them, even if the service/offering they are providing could be done from anywhere.

Ultimately, as the rise of mobile search continues apace, the important of being ready for local search is hugely important. It doesn’t just allow people to find you, it allows them to find you. As Google ties their local search in with their Google Plus pages, ratings and reviews will also become more important too.