Local Search Highlights in the 2015 Internet Trends Report

Jon Schepke (with Search Engine Watch) pulled some great insight from Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report – and, in reading between the lines – could see that all lines point to… Mobile & Local Search.  So if you’re still on the fence about mobile and local search marketing & optimization strategies, you might as well hand in your Marketing Badge right now.  Here were his key take aways;

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Optimizing for Mobile is TABLE STAKES

  • Mobile searches have overtaken desktop search (sooner than projected)
  • Mobile use has also overtaken desktop use, on a daily basis (see the chart above).
  • 73% of the planet has a mobile phone
  • “if your local search strategy fails to address the mobile consumer, you might as well not have a local search strategy”
  • See Google’s recent release of Micro Moments noting that ‘near me’ searches have increased 34 times in 2011 (in Q4 2014, 80% of those searches were conducted via mobile devices).
  • See Forrester’s push of Mobile Moments, by definition, “a point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context.
  • See Facebook’s Retailer Beacons for businesses to offer deals & content for consumers in store via Place Tips.
  • In most cases, mobile (and mobile search) is the MOST direct connection between your company & consumer demand.


  • “Brands that convert ‘near me’ searches into revenue through appealing mobile wallet offers are solving for the “last mile” of local search.” (truly creating a full circle consumer behavior).
  • Whole Foods has seen mobile payments surge by 400% since adopting Apple Pay.
  • Pep Boys has seen a seven-figure sales result from mobile wallet.

Content Marketing Strategy

Why your business needs a content marketing strategy… well put.  Thanks Lee Odden.

Google sites handle about 88 billion searches each month. YouTube is the second most popular search engine second only to Google. Facebook is now over 600 million users. Twitter has nearly 200 millionaccounts. LinkedIn is at 101 million users and FourSquare grew 3,400% in 2010.

Brands Hiding on Google

YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) — If a consumer types a brand name into the Google search box, a home-page link should — and likely will — appear as one of the top listings.

But does the same thing happen when typing in a generic keyword relevant to that business? Say, “home repair” for Home Depot or “gifts” for Harry & David? That depends on how well they’re optimized for Google. And in the case of those two examples, Home Depot and Harry & David website links don’t even make it to the first page of Google, according to a recent study by Covario that evaluated the search-engine optimization health of 100 branded websites.


Google Map-Based Ads

Google began testing the Tags program in February in two markets, San Jose and Houston. Its objective was to create a simple paid ad that even the most harried shop proprietor can grasp. The result is a $25 per month ($300 a year) yellow box that appears alongside a business listing on Google Maps and search results, as well as beneath the advertiser’s itemized listing adjacent to the map.

Today the company expanded the three-month-old Tags feature to three new cities: Austin, Atlanta, and Washington D.C. In the coming weeks, Google said it will add Tags to five more cities – Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Boulder, and San Francisco – bringing the total to 10.

Marketers do not have control over where or when the ads are served. Rather, their appearance is determined by Google local search algorithms, which factor in distance, relevance, and other factors. In other words, Tags do not affect a business’ ranking in local search results, but rather offer a visual cue along with additional information in a sponsored link.

Only advertisers who have claimed their business listing and set up a Google Places account can purchase Tags. To claim a listing, a business owner confirms her contact information, business categories, and other details before verifying her identity either over the phone or by mail.

According to Google, 2 million businesses in the U.S. and 4 million globally have claimed their listings. A spokesperson declined to say how many of the 2 million U.S. participants are based in the 10 cities where the Tags program is currently active, but she said the cities were chosen in part because of the number of businesses with claimed listings.

The new ad product is part of a raft of changes to Google’s Small Business Center – including giving the center a new name: Google Places. The reason for the name change, Google said, is that “millions of people use Google every day to find places in the real world, and we want to better connect Place Pages – the way that businesses are being found today – with the tool that enables business owners to manage their presence on Google.”

Among the changes to Google Places, formerly known as Small Business Center, are the following:

Service Areas: Google will now let businesses designate the geographic areas they serve, either in the form of delivery, in-home service, or other capabilities.

Photo shoots: Google is letting business operators request a photo shoot of the interior of their establishments for use in their Place Pages. The offering is currently available in 25 U.S. cities, as well as locations in Japan and Australia.

QR Codes: Google will offer downloadable QR codes, a form of two-dimensional bar code, that businesses can affix to their signage and collateral. Smartphone owners can scan these codes to access the mobile version of a business’s Place Page. Along similar lines, it will expand its “Favorite Places” program, mailing window decals to 50,000 new businesses that have been highly sought out by Google users. The program was created last December with 100,000 businesses.

The Tags ad system is the first trial of a simplified local ad buying product since Google aborted an experiment called Local Listings Ads (LLA) last year. That program, begun in October 2009 and concluded in December, offered flat-fee listings that appeared on results pages for geographical searches.

Google has not said whether it might reignite the Local Listings Ads program, but appeared to downplay it in a statement to ClickZ. “This limited free trial was one of many beta tests that we developed experimentally as part of our ongoing commitment to help businesses advertise online,” it said. “The LLA beta was fruitful by getting us one step closer towards finding a fast, easy, and effective advertising solution for both users and marketers.”

Google has no plans to offer Google Places or sell its Tags ads through the AdWords reseller program. The spokesperson told ClickZ, “Tags can only be purchased for owner-verified listings in Google Places, so at the time it has to be done by the person who runs the business and manages the Google Places listing.”