A Break Down of the Local Search Ecosystem

A Break Down of the Local Search Ecosystem

A report by CIODrive showed that over 70% of web traffic stems from mobile devices, while Google reported that people visit over 1.5 billion locations related to what they searched for every month.

Local search is booming but at the same time, this ecosystem continues to become more complex. In order to make local SEO work for your customers, it’s essential that you have a clear understanding of the inner workings of the local search ecosystem.

Why the Local Search Ecosystem Matters

The local search ecosystem is a web of data providers, directories and search engines that exchange citation data on a daily basis.

In order to rank highly in Google, it’s necessary to understand each of the elements that make up this ecosystem and how they affect each other.

Did you know that half of all consumers who conduct a local search on their mobile device are bound to visit a brick-and-mortar store within 24 hours? Reviews also play a crucial role in the decision-making process for clients. In fact, over 70% of consumers are more willing to trust a local business if they find positive reviews in their search results.

There are several factors that determine how well you rank in local search results but none of it would be possible without the three key components that make up the local search ecosystem.

Key Components of the Local Search Ecosystem

David Mihm, local business advocate and founder of Tidings, introduced the Local Search Ecosystem to the world.

The Local Search Ecosystem

Image Credit: David Mihm

This is what this ecosystem is made up of:

  1. Data Aggregators

Data aggregators collect, match, format and sell data for a profit. If you’ve ever received junk mail, which you most probably have, know that it was routed to you via a local data aggregator. Here are some of the top local data aggregators that form part of the local search ecosystem:

  • Localeze
  • Acxiom
  • Infogroup
  • Factual

Data aggregators take the data that exists in the local search ecosystem and broadcasts it to a series of search engines, review sites, directories and social media platforms. What data aggregators can’t do is differentiate between inaccurate or outdated information, which is why brands and businesses need to ensure their listing data is correct.

  1. Search Engines

Search engines receive information from a multitude of different sources, including data aggregators, in order to provide searchers with the most accurate information. The most popular search engines are:

  • Apple Maps
  • Bing
  • Google
  1. Business Directories

Geo and vertical business directories are used to post information online. Business directories are much more on the receiving end of data than providing it, but search engines do include directory listings in search results. Popular business directories include:

  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Open Table
  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Foursquare

Getting the Local Search Ecosystem to Work for You

Google looks for three key things when deciding whether or not to display a local listing:

  • Only businesses that offer what the searcher is looking for will be displayed
  • Businesses who already rank high and have good reviews tend to show up at the top of search results
  • Finally, businesses that are closest to the searcher’s location or are in a location that matches the searcher’s query will be displayed first

Now, it’s a case of knowing how you can tick all of these boxes. The answer lies in accuracy and consistency.

Making sure that NAP or citation data is accurate is how you can improve. The more accurate your business listings are, the more Google will pay attention. Citation building services can really make this process a lot easier by allowing you to submit your business details to an array of data aggregators, search engines and directories.

While the local search ecosystem is complex, it helps to know what is consists of if local SEO is one of your key responsibilities. Knowing how each component interacts with the other will ensure you know where to focus your efforts and how you can optimize your local listings strategy.

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Casandra Jordaan

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