Which business classes benefit most from Local Search

Which business sectors would be best served by optimizing their local listings? Clearly not all business types are searched on equally and some are not searched at all.

To develop the data to analyze I went to the Overture Keyword Selector tool and typed just the city name with no state modifier for 4 relatively small rural cities (populations from 2000 to 50,000):
-Jamestown, NY
-Olean, NY
-Wellsville NY
-Coudersport Pa

I then removed any result for any city that was obviously not the one I was looking for (ie wrong state), removed all Not for Profit searches (hospitals, schools, govt. etc.) and removed searches for specific businesses. The list I was left with included the ambiguous “city + business type” or the non-ambiguous “city + st. + business type” search frequency results.

The outcomes offered some surprises….

Across these small rural cities the top 5 searches were pretty consistent:

1-Real Estate

2-Car Brands

3- Used Cars

4-Less popular Car Brands


Places 6-8 included Hotels, Attorneys and apartments in various orders depending on the city. Beyond those there were virtually no searches of this type.
I chose to research smaller urban areas to provide a smaller data set to analyze. It remains to be seen if larger urban areas are searched in a similar fashion. In a preliminary preview of Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY it appears that there is a very similar outcome. Although in very large cities like LA or NY, neighborhoods could very well play a factor. I have included my data results at the end of the article for your review.

It is clear that real estate agents and car dealers benefit from local search much more than other industries. Restaurants, hotels, apartments and attorneys show up across all of these small rural markets and probably more so in larger markets. It is also clear that at least in these markets there is little searching (at least in the month of September) beyond these business classes.

I would assume that market size, market type (tourism?), and season would all affect these results and all of these issues deserve to be reviewed. However, if any of my clients were in any of these classes I would contact them immediately and encourage them to get listed and optimized.

There was one interesting outcome that I hadn’t anticipated. When one actually searches on the “ambiguous” “city + real estate” in Google, the results present a refinement box with direct access to Google Base listings of individual houses for sale presented on Google Maps. Essentially Google is bypassing their business data base in favor of their own Google Base Data which allows the refinement of that data down to the house level rather than the Real Estate agent level. Hmm…..

My data set:Overture Local Search Frequency Data

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Which business classes benefit most from Local Search by

6 thoughts on “Which business classes benefit most from Local Search”

  1. Hi Mike,

    Interesting idea and results. It looks like it’s worth replicating on a wider scale. You do have me wondering if local search is biased towards specific industries.

    There are possibly some biases in overture’s tools, too.

    Still, definitely worth looking at some more.

  2. Bill-
    Do you think it might also be a self fulfilling search behavior. I.E. If the public is searching for something and doesn’t find it they stop searching? Or when they do find it, they keep searching.

    Could it also reflect click fraud? I found it odd that people were searching on car dealer types that most people from around here know don’t exist in these markets.

    I also found the choice by Google to present one type of information for the “ambiguous” search and a different type for the “non-ambiguous” search. The decision seems arbitrary but fraught with problems in terms of interface expectations and more importantly serving conflicting masters.


  3. Mike:

    This research rocks. I tried it for towns near me and will look at it more closely with regard to state and city names.

    My main business doesn’t fall into one of the most popular categories. BUT….having owned the business for 20 years and having done a lot of old school marketing in print, radio, tv, flyers, etc. etc. etc. it is interesting to see that some of the ways we did marketing, and some of the things that worked… are among the most popular phrases for searches with a town name.

    So I’ll be adding content that ties the business into some of the popular search categories to try and pick up some extra visability and traffic (and a few conversions).

    Its a great way to expose a site to expanding content vis a vis their locale.

    There is a discussion on this on seorefugee.com forums. I hope to get back to you with some hard research results for state/city and town names in my region.


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