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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

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