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The Importance Of Local Search: A Case Study

January 16, 2013

Simon Fryer
Simon
Simon is CandidSky's Search Director, with strong roots in organic SEO and analytics, and a disturbing passion for spreadsheets.

I recently headed over to Colorado in the USA for some frolics in the snow. I had been there before and if there’s one thing I remembered, it was that you could get a fantastic steak if you knew where to look.

I resolved to go out for a steak at least twice whilst I was there, but due to the popularity of these bovine treats, there were an awful lot of steakhouses in the local area, and I had no idea which ones were the best.

The company we rented a condo from were kind enough to leave a brochure containing information about all the places to eat out locally. There were over 6 steakhouses in the brochure, each claiming to offer ‘the best steak in Colorado’, so I found myself in a quandary; how could I trust any of the claims in the brochure? The companies listed there had most likely paid to be included, so I couldn’t take any of their claims seriously.

Naturally, my next port of call was Google. For a visitor in a town that they’ve never been to before, Google Local is a cracking resource; just type in what you’re looking for and hey presto, the results.

Here’s what I saw when I search for the “steakhouse in Breckenridge”….

I’ve searched for a list of steakhouses in the local area, but the results seem to be dominated by one in particular. Look again and see just how much of the page is dedicated to one restaurant….

Even if you were using Google Adwords and paying Google for the pleasure of appearing in the search results you wouldn’t receive that much attention. They had done such a good job on their marketing that Google had recognized their brand as a top listing and there wasn’t even a Google Map showing the other restaurants in the area.

So at this point, one particular restaurant was leading the race to receive my hard earned pennies, but to be honest I had already seen this place in the brochure. What I really wanted to know was whether or not it was actually worth visiting. Making a mental note of this result, I went on to search for “best steakhouse in Breckenridge”, and guess who showed up at the top of the local listings……

Now, convinced that this particular ‘joint’ was worth further investigation, I clicked through to their Google Places page to read what their customers had said about them.

After reading some of the positive reviews they had received, I was settled that this was the first steakhouse I’d visit, and promptly headed down there to find it very busy indeed, ate a steak the size of my head, returned home, and slept for 12 hours straight.

I’m not sharing this information simply because you might be fascinated with my eating habits whilst abroad, but to highlight just how powerful a successful local search campaign can be. I actually ate at another steakhouse a few days later which was much better and cheaper, but unsurprisingly it was nowhere near as busy as the Salt Creek Steakhouse had been…

Now this isn’t just restricted to restaurants and bars (although it is very important to them). Whilst we were there, my co-vacacioner suffered from a bout of altitude sickness and needed a dose of oxygen. Can you guess how we found a local oxygen supplier? We also needed to find supermarkets, shops and outlets, and other local services. All these businesses won our custom by being on top of their local search marketing, something that every business which provides localized services should be doing. The addition of reviews also makes Google Places page a powerful marketing channel, where people can find all the information they need about a business as well as unbiased reviews from fellow visitors.

Whilst getting involved in local SEO might be daunting for local businesses that aren’t tech savvy, the benefits of learning more about it and getting stuck in will certainly be worth your while.

This is the third blog in our SEO mini-series on local search. We’ll include links here to the other articles as they are released. Enjoy!

Part 1 – A history of local search

Part 2 – How local search works

Part 3 – The importance of local search: A case study

Part 4 – What local SEO means for small businesses

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