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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Local SMX – Search Trends in Local

I have recently returned from LocalSMX and hope to blog on the event, incredible people and our research relating to Maps over the next week. But I wanted to touch on one of the keynotes delivered Frazier Miller of Yahoo (summarized here by Greg Sterling).

Frazier noted that growth in local queries at Yahoo experienced 76% year over year growth compared to a roughly 35% Y/Y growth in the previous year. He noted that the average user was querying 12 times per month vs 8 and that the query strings were moving heavily towards 3 and 4 word local queries from 1 and 2 (plus locale).

What struck me as so significant was that this growth appears to be occurring despite a flattening or downtrend in the long standing leaders of short tail queries in the local space like hotels, restaurants and real estate. Here is a Google Trends screenshot for real estate + locale:

This downward or flat trend is apparent in many of the queries that are dominant in local search: restaurants + locale, hotel + locale, lawyers + locale.

My sense of this conflicting trends is that this is actually a positive trend for a number of reasons….

Reason One: Users are becoming more sophisticated and starting their locale query with more targeted phrasing. And Google and Yahoo must be delivering useful results.

Reason Two: The success of the vertical search engines.

In the past, I have expressed fears that the shear overwhelming power of the main page of the Google & Yahoo main search results pages, gave the primary search companies the power to “squeeze the air out of the room”. I.E. that with a little effort Google could expand their presence in the local market (ala the OneBox) and deny these high quality verticals room in which to function. That appears to not be happening.

As long as Google and Yahoo are seeing year over year increases of 76% there appears to be enough growth to go around, giving these high quality verticle search engines a chance to grow and dominate their niche. Having that variety in the market is in everybody’s long term best interest.