What is Local Search (and why it is important)?

Updated: 24 April 2024

Google Local Search mockup

If you have been paying attention to Google’s search results when you have seached for retail or service based businesses online, you’ll probably have noticed that you’ve seen and used Google’s Local Search results regularly.

What is Local Search?

Local search refers to the search results that people get when they are searching for businesses, products, or services within a specific geographic area. For many retail and service organisations the most important aspect of local search is their Google Maps and Google Local Pack results which are powered by their Google Business Profiles.

What is a Google Business Profile?

A Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, enables businesses to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps. It allows businesses to create a listing that includes essential information such as business name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and customer reviews.

Google Business Profiles also provides features for businesses to post updates, photos, and offers, interact with customers through messaging, and gain insights into how users are finding and interacting with their listing. Having an optimized Google Business Profile is essential to increase a retail of services business visibility to potential customers searching their products or services.

Google Business Profile optimisation is an activity that many brands have yet to embrance, enabling their competition to get a jump on them in search results.

 

Local Search 3 Pack Screnshot

Why is Local Search important?

As Google Map results have become more prominent in search engine results, many of our retail and service customers are finding that most of their business comes in from  local results rather than the traditional organic search results they relied on in the past.

In fact, their Google Local performance has helped many of our customers experienced significant growth which has enabled them to expand their businesses. Local search holds immense significance for both service and retail businesses due to its ability to:

  • Enhance Visibility: Appearing in local search results increases visibility among nearby customers actively seeking products or services.
  • Attract Foot Traffic: Local search helps businesses attract potential customers who are physically nearby, leading to increased foot traffic and potential sales.
  • Build Trust: Being prominently listed in local search results establishes credibility and trust among local consumers, encouraging them to choose the business over competitors.
  • Boost Conversions: Local search optimization increases the likelihood of conversions by directing interested customers to the business’s physical location or website.
  • Facilitate Customer Engagement: Engaging with local customers through reviews, updates, and promotions on local search platforms fosters a sense of community and loyalty.
  • Compete Effectively: Optimizing for local search enables businesses to compete more effectively against larger competitors by targeting specific geographic areas where they have a presence.
  • Provide Relevant Information: Local search listings offer valuable information such as business hours, contact details, and customer reviews, helping potential customers make informed decisions.

In essence, local search is instrumental for service and retail businesses to establish a strong presence in their local communities, attract customers, and drive growth.

Not only does Google Local have a top positioning in the search results, there is one feature which makes these results more useful than traditional organic results – reviews. Numerous studies have stated that online reviews are almost as effective as word of mouth recommendations in helping prospective customers decide to use a service or buy a product.

Why are Google Reviews important?

Research shows that online reviews are seen by most people as an accurate reflection of a business in the eyes of their customers – almost as much so as a personal recommendation from a friend.

  1. Visibility on Google Maps: Businesses with a significant number of positive reviews are more likely to appear prominently in Google Maps results, increasing exposure to local customers.
  2. Trust and Credibility: Positive reviews build trust and credibility among potential customers, influencing their purchasing decisions.
  3. Social Proof: Reviews serve as social proof of a business’s quality, reliability, and customer satisfaction, encouraging others to choose it over competitors.
  4. Increased Click-Through Rates: Businesses with higher review ratings tend to attract more clicks and traffic to their website or physical location. 

Summary

Falling between the digital, marketing and retail teams, local search is not actively managed by many organisations. This means that organisations who focus on local search have it easy – less competition in the results, the ability to improve rankings fast, and the ability to compete with much larger organisations as the traditional link metrics that power the organic rankings are much less important in local search.

We believe this is the biggest marketing opportunity available to retail and service-based organisations in 2024 – including offline marketing opportunities! We can’t think of another marketing activity that comes close to the potential gains that investing in your local search performance delivers.

Work with us

If improving your local search performance is an area you would like to explore more closely, let’s set up a call to talk through your current performance, where you would like to be, and how you can get there.

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