Whether you’re a marketer or a business, local search will have an impact your marketing strategy in 2015. Local search is about going beyond branded terms to be visible, relevant, and engaging where and when your customers are looking for you.
With beacon deployment increasing and the advent of smartwatch technology, local search marketing is quickly bleeding into location-based and proximity marketing. Here are a few of the top trends to be aware of — and prepare for — in 2015:
According to Google, 70 percent of consumers who search for local information on a smartphone visit a store within five miles. Combine this with the fact that 80 percent of spending takes place within 15 miles of the home and local search becomes a big part of a brand’s mobile acquisition strategy.
Mobile search queries overtook desktop search queries in 2014, yet brands and marketers spend only a fraction of their budget on mobile. This will change in 2015, as marketers realize the mobile acquisition opportunity that local search provides via listings, maps, pages and more.
Contextual marketing, and the rise of mobile searches, will fuel location-based search campaigns and strategies. This means where a searcher is at the time of the search becomes a dominant ranking signal for the engines.
Keywords that aren’t typically considered “local” by marketers today, will have a local context and the opportunity for related ads to be served. Essentially, every keyword will have an opportunity to be “localized.”
Take the keyword term “flu remedy” as an example. If you search for “flu remedy” today you might see ads for cold and flu products as well as links to articles. As mobile context continues to influence the algorithms, you will see more search results related to drug stores and/or offers to buy those cold and flu products at a store that is near the consumer at the time of the search.
Proximity marketing will gain more ground as beacon deployment increases across the board — from stadiums to shopping areas and city centers.
Proximity is a next-level extension of local search that enables marketers to communicate to consumers that are on-premise. This is a big opportunity for businesses to enhance their on-site and in-store experiences. Through location-based marketing programs, consumers will benefit by receiving special offers, information and/or directions in real-time based on their latitude and longitude.
The Apple Watch, and other wearables, will take proximity marketing to yet another level with hands-free searching and promotional offers.
Local Data Management
Lastly, local data management will quickly become the foundation for successful marketing going forward. This is where brands and marketers can gain ground over their competition.
With over seventy percent of consumers searching for local information on a smartphone visiting a store within five miles (according to the Google study), marketers need to be visible where and when their consumers are looking for them.
Local search marketing provides a way to be visible in those key moments across listings, map results and GPS systems. Brands that aren’t already leveraging a local search automation platform are getting left behind by smart marketers who understand the importance of listing management across the local search ecosystem. We will see a big shift with enterprise brands embracing location data management at scale.
Local search is poised to become the next digital battleground for brands — BIA/Kelsey expects local digital ad spending to expand to $45 billion by 2017. The mobile, contextual, and proximity aspects of local search marketing make it an area of digital to watch as well as the next big opportunity for your brand in 2015 and beyond.
Jay Hawkinson is a digital marketing professional with 20 years of sales, marketing and merchandising experience including organic search optimization, paid search advertising, local search, mobile and social media. Jay joined SIM Partners in 2006 as an equity partner and currently oversees mobile, social media and emerging technology at SIM Partners as the senior vice president of social and emerging products.