What impact Maps and Coupons?

Earl the Pearl, in bringing up a new site and comparing to an older one, has done a great summary and analysis at SeoREfugee of where local traffic is coming from:

Over the past 10 months, the largest single traffic generator search phrase has been the industry generic term. In google it has generated about 2100 visits and Yahoo about 2600 visits. About 90% of the traffic from google is ppc oriented whereas in Yahoo its all organic search.

Of visits to the site that have the same or virtually analogous business terms with a geo modifier, the clear traffic visit leader with the most traffic has been the business term with the city name, versus the business term with state names. Traffic for the most popular business term with the city (washington dc) has generated over 300 visits in this time period. Meanwhile the next most popular phrases with geo modifiers have been for the 2 states.

Of significance, prior to the insertion of google maps into organic searches, their was no noticable difference between industry terms for the generic business terms and any of 3 different most prevalent geo modifiers (2 states, Maryland, and Virginia, and one city- DC.).

It appears that the insertion of a map which has always featured this business at the top of the search page, has increased visits to the site by about 30-50% over searches without a map.

In other words, there is a significant increase in traffic to the site wherein there is a #1 organic ranking, and a map, and a ppc ad over sites with a #1 organic ranking, a ppc ad and no map.(my bold)

To date it appears that high generic rankings or high ranked ppc with geo terms in the title for generic industry terms are critical; high ranked terms for geo-modified business terms are critical, and the appearance of a business in maps within a 3 pack/10pack/authoritative map are of big help…but don’t have the impact of either high organic rankings or highly ranked ppc.

His assessment of coupons? No customer responses as they are buried too deeply within Maps to be found.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
What impact Maps and Coupons? by

13 thoughts on “What impact Maps and Coupons?”

  1. Mike: The geo modified phrase that has really expanded and become demonstrably more popular vis a vis other phrases not only comes with a map…but it has been an authoritative one map for most (or maybe all) of that time.

    I’ve got the feeling that the one map has significantly boosted traffic.

    I’m not so sure if the map would have been as effective in increasing traffic if we had been ranked 1st within either a 3 pack or a 10 pack.

    And speaking of authoritative maps, and 10 paks, etc…take a look at the phrase….denver flowers.

    I’m seeing a 10 pak display of denver florists with lehrer’s on top. Its not the authoritative one map that we saw in December and which drew such commentary from the owner of Denver Flowers florist.

    I wonder when Google local made that change? Regardless of the claims of the Denver Flowers florist in his comments at google groups, virtually every florist and the industry itself will tell you that their busiest months are February (valentine’s day) and May (Mother’s day).

    I suppose this change is far fairer with regard to florists in Denver as Mother’s Day approaches.

    Getting back to my intuition, it would be interesting to contact Lehrer’s and find out how the map and the subsequent change in the map is effecting their business.

    In fact my intuition tells me that a 3 pack is more favorable to the 3 entities that show in that map version than a 10 pack.

    And if a 10 pack is valuable…..I wonder how valuable it is for the business that ranks first versus the business that ranks 10th.

    and by the way….still no responses to the google coupons. its too bad its so buried and so unavailable to visitors.

  2. I would guess that you are right re the relative value of the 1 vs 3 vs 10 Local listings. It changes so often that it would be difficult to control and test for.

    The coupons (and their lack of visibility) has always astounded me. Maybe they are just waiting for the right moment to really highlight them. I should do an inventory check and see if they are still increasing at such a rapid rate or if their lack of visibility has discouraged folks from posting.


  3. Great analysis EarlPearl (and Mike). I would tend to agree that an authoritative map vs a 3-pack or 10-pack would be a much larger traffic driver.

    Mike, do you suppose there is something going on at G whereby they are afraid coupons will compete with PPC too much? Or do you think they’ll start to phase them in only for PPC advertisers a la their Google Checkout logos?

  4. One can only guess as to Google’s motivations. Despite their new found openess, I doubt that they would share with us their logic as to the mysterious hiding of coupons. Maybe Maps Guide Jen would enlighten us…Jen are you listening? Curious minds want to know.

    My pet theory is that it was one of the 20% projects and thus has low priority, doesn’t yet have enough inventory or competitive value to bring forth to be visible on the main search pages. Internal competition/canibalization has not really slowed them down before.

    This all very interesting to me too as the last time I checked the inventory was growing at an annualized rate of 54%.


  5. Frankly Mike, I’m surprised at the difference in the last 10 months between visits to the site based on the authoritative one map versus visits to the site for phrases that represent the business term and a state name. Of course the state name geo modifiers haven’t generated the map.

    In past years the volume of traffic for state name/business terms versus city name/business terms were relatively close. In this past year or so, though there is a marked increase in visits which are accompanied by the authoritative one map.

    It is not only a powerful and highly visual representation on the search page, it not only dominates the important top portion of the search page real estate, but the evidence is that it dramatically increased traffic over search phrases…wherein in all examples my business was organically ranked #1 for all three phrases.

    I go back to the example of the denver florists. Last December through several months Lehrer’s Florists in Denver obtained that authoritative onebox. It probably benefitted dramatically from that maps representation on the search page. Currently, for the organic search phrase…denver flowers it now is ranked 1st among the 10 pack.

    That #1 ranking in the 10 pack is good. But somehow I can’t think that it is as effective as the authoritative one map it generated months ago.

    I suspect Google prefers generating information for general viewership in a 10 pack format. On the other hand, if a business is successful in optimizing for maps as it shows in organic searches in an authoritative one map….that business can really benefit.

    Finally, as it regards the coupons, Greg Sterling is similarly surprised that Google hasn’t tried to improve this availability and visability. One would think that coupons have far more credibility and importance in this economy.

    I suppose if google were monetizing the visability of coupons they would find a way to make them dramatically more visable.


  6. Perhaps one of the reasons for the shift from state to city might be that searchers have learned that if they use the city they get the map which they find more useful…and thus use it more? A positive feedback loop of sorts…

    And I would agree with you on the Authoritative Onebox value.

    On a related coupon note, I put a coupon in my local record when coupons first came out and I have had one response in all of that time.


  7. With regard to the thought about searching with the intent of finding a map….I’m not so sure, Mike. Another more compelling statistic from that study is that th number of searchers looking for a local business without ever referencing a geo modifier (be it city, state, town, neighborhood, etc) is so dramatically greater than any one search with a geo modifier.

    Logically that is the reverse of your suggestion in comment #6. One might think that searchers might want more information and a search with a map might respond to that need. On the other hand the number of searchers using terms with the shortest possibel combination of search terms has certainly not abated in any sense that I can see over several years of followng the data.

    I just don’t see that.


  8. “It appears that the insertion of a map which has always featured this business at the top of the search page, has increased visits to the site by about 30-50% over searches without a map.”

    That’s amazing, Dave. Very cool data.

    In regards to people getting ‘trained’ to search in a certain way for certain types of serps, I can see that happening. I know that in my on-going hunt for a house, I’ve now memorized which cities bring up Google’s real estate search and which ones don’t. So, I think it’s a worthy question Mike is asking.

    Nice post!

  9. Miriam/Dave

    That’s a good question. If it were static then searches would never evolve but they do. I assume but have no evidence that it is a fluid system of searcher desire, search engine feedback, searcher modification, search engine modification etc etc….would be a great to hear from someone who knows how these things change. why and how much.


  10. Miriam:

    On an individual basis one would hope one’s search efforts got smarter or more sophistictated.

    On the aggregate though I see as many searches for a very local/regional service via non localized searches. i.e. searching for a dentist via the search term dentist when what you really want is a Cupertino, California dentist . Its the same volume that I’ve always seen and the same volume that Greg Sterling reported in 2007.

    I see those types of searches for both organic searches and the results of ppc run on a localized basis with ads that specify the service and geo area.

  11. Mike:

    As an update, the coupon with a worthwhile discount has been running for a month.

    Activity in terms of contacts has been strong as have sales.

    We’ve had over 3700 visits through google and over 5300 total search visits. Additionally there is a significant amount of direct and link traffic to the site.

    As I’ve noted, there is a marked increase in visits to the site wherein an authoritative onemap shows. There are a variety of terms that generate the onemap. In fact it picked up a onemap for a nearby local jurisdiction. That surprised me.

    There have been over 250 total web contacts. There are a like number of contacts by phone. Most of our business is driven by the web.

    I did a quick review. The site generates geo oriented phrases on a regional basis, as opposed to a local basis. By that I mean that many of the geo phrases reference a state name rather than a city name. The visits via a state name and the business terms don’t generate a map.

    The major city name does generate a map….and as I referenced earlier there is more traffic for specific phrases wherein the authoritative onemap shows then for comparable geo phrases with state names.

    We aren’t losing traffic, or I should say seeing a reduction in relative monthly traffic for searches with state names. That remains consistent over time with similar periods before maps were inserted into organic results.

    But, surprisingly, and happily the onemap is generating even more visits for specific phrases.

    REGARDLESS…..over the last month…..not a single person has generated that google coupon that sits within the detail of the local business center generated information.

    hah…..its a shame for the customers.

    So what I’m seeing is an effective increase in activity and visits due to the onemap.

    What I’m not detecting at all is visitor activity to the detail available in the data from Google Maps. No usage of the coupon.

    What I’m seeing is the effectiveness of a map inserted into a google search page. It has increased traffic.

    I am not seeing any movement by visitors toward visiting the alternative data available through google maps…and certainly not the coupon.

    I love that authoritative onemap…..but to date I’m totally indifferent to any kind of specific information inputted into the google local business center. It doesn’t seem like visitors are accessing it.


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