Google Maps: relative value of a OneBox vs top organic results

Steve Espinosa has some interesting preliminary research on the relative click thru rates of a #1 listing in the Local 10-Pack and a simultaneous #1 listing in organic. The organic listing showed 1.6x the click thru of the the Local 10 Pack listing. As it is preliminary research and only looked at click thru not call in or other measures of action, it is an important piece of research but doesn’t speak to ultimate customer action.

According to TMP’s  Local Search Usage Study : Following online local searches, consumers most often contact a business over the telephone (39%), visit the business in-person (32%) or contact the business online (12%).

If one works out the combined math of the two studies (a not very reliable number I assure you), in the end the top local ranking would still provide more client contacts either via phone or in person than the organic ranking.

At the end of the day, Steve’s research can not be viewed as a reason to not focus on local but rather as a call to action on the organic side. I think he would agree that, in the excitement around local, you can’t forget organic’s power and that in an ideal world a business would use every tool available to them. However, many times, due to the nature of a business, a business may not be able to legitimately play in the Local space and their only recourse is to optimize their website for local phrases. 

Another interesting outcome of Steve’s initial research was “the fact is that the majority of the users who got to the site via the natural link had resolution above 1024×768 and the majority of users who visited via the Onebox result had resoultion of 1024×768 or under.”

As Steve pointed out, this could be do the greater real estate visible to those with larger screens and thus greater visibility of organic listings above the fold. It could also, however, be due to the differences in font size with which Google represents the results. Steve has also done some interesting research on the value of visual authority and in this case the user might be attracted to the greater font size of the organic listing and wandered away from the smaller type faces presented in the 10-Pack. I have seen some recent heatmaps that seem to indicate that more users are moving further down the page when presented with a Local 10-Pack.

Great area for further research! If anyone has the heatmap info I would love to see it or if anyone is doing the research I would love to hear about it. Your thoughts? Does anyone have a recent heatmap?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: relative value of a OneBox vs top organic results by

13 thoughts on “Google Maps: relative value of a OneBox vs top organic results”

  1. My instant thought on reading Steve’s mention of monitor size is that it really speaks to demographic targeting.

    My presumption would be that screen sizes of 1024 x 768 or an indicator of older computers.

    So, if you’re targeting the old, poor or slow to adopt it becomes critical to have good local ranking.

    I know I’m a sample of one, but I find the egalitarian presentation of the local 10-pack and 3-pack unhelpful unless I know what I’m looking for.

    Has there been any study of user behavior on this?

    You mentioned new heatmap studies, Mike. Did any of them speak to the issue of ranking prominence in one-box?

    Will

  2. Mike, this is what I want to understand about those stats:

    Following online local searches, consumers most often contact a business over the telephone (39%), visit the business in-person (32%) or contact the business online (12%).

    The 32% and 39%…How many of the 39% first call the business and then go to the business? In other words, what is the overlap of that 39% of callers who then, having made a phone call, get in the car and go to the shop in question. I would say that a good 70% of my own local searches involve a phone call and then, if the business has what I want, I get up and go to it. I wish these stats explained this figure.

    I totally agree with your point that, judging by these statistics, Local Search is getting a vast majority of the action compared to the 12% of people going to the website to contact the business, but the paths aren’t being shown clearly enough. Did they go through the 10-pack and through that to the business’ website, at which point they filled out an email form? Or was it direct to the site, via organic?

    Some clarity on these things would provide a more thorough picture of use behavior, but I definitely appreciated Steve’s article.
    Miriam

  3. @Miriam

    None of the metrics are very good and none of the numbers are really meaningful as you point out without context and details.

    Lots to be understood and studied and it doesn’t seem that Google will provide meaningful metrics so we are on our own.

    Mike

  4. Mike, I’m forwarding this to clients who, of course, are caught up in the very same question. Thanks for sharing Steve’s work with the community and great to see you @ SMX.

  5. Hi Mike, wanted to quickly respond to this statement from your piece above – “However, many times, due to the nature of a business, a business may not be able to legitimately play in the Local space and their only recourse is to optimize their website for local phrases.” And for those local businesses that don’t have a website, nor the time to work on their’s if they do, the killer app for local organic links is Local Video SEO and the proof is readily apparent. thx

  6. @Tim Tevlin,

    And for those local businesses that don’t have a website, nor the time to work on their’s if they do, the killer app for local organic links is Local Video SEO and the proof is readily apparent.

    Where is this proof readily apparent? Can you cite some research / examples?

    Will

  7. Sure Will happy to. We are based out of the Toronto area and can show you a couple of quick client results by visiting our microsite at LocalGAdvertising.com, see the left column. Our proven theory is that Local Video SEO generates not one but multiple organic links for our clients in their core industry / geo-targeted area. In other words, right now for individual clients we are driving upwards of 25 to 30 organic links in the Top 20 across combinations of a client’s core & geo-targeted keyword terms. So we are about multiple ‘points of presence’ in the local organic links on Google through the use of online commercials or ‘videos’. This is a new whole new dimension of SEO may I humbly state. thx

  8. @ Toronto

    I’ve tried doing a search as suggested from your microsite and I only get one hit. I’m actually in the Toronto area myself. Could I possibly be missunderstanding you?

    Thanks
    Joan

  9. The data about screen resolution is fascinating, and makes a lot of sense. I’d be curious to see how the CTR changes based on Google showing a 10-Pack or a 3-Pack.

  10. @Tom

    We all asked Steve but he doesn’t have any data about the comparative value of the 3 vs 10 Pack. Only Google knows for sure at this point but maybe someone will come up with a way to study it, as we all want to know.

    Mike

  11. What would be interesting is if you formed the Meta Description tag as a call to action item and when the top organic ranking showed it would have the same detailed features as the onebox above.

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