Moderator: Andy Beal
Description: Local search now comes from a real convergence of local targeting and mobile device usage. It covers the entire spectrum from the desktop shopper to the casual "get-it-now" cellphone user. This panel will look at local search from the varying perspectives of search engines, wireless audiences, and SEO/SEM marketers.
Session Notes: Andy's opening remarks include the fact the local and mobile has finally taken off. He believes in the future, these two topics will no longer be covered in the same session.
Shailesh Bhat is the first presenter... Yahoo local has about 28 million visitors locally. Yahoo is working to provide instant answers regardless of the entry point whether it is local, the web, mobile, etc.
The find it critical to proactivly monitor listings information. They tend to get inaccurate very quickly. Looking for solid customer feedback to manage the vendors online reputation. Vendor descriptions must go beyond name & address.
Local searches are skyrocketing. Users are now educated in adding locality to their search queries. Search strings are getting longer and longer. For example "seattle coffee 24 hour wifi". So vendors need to build out their profiles accordingly.
Local search is evolving with web search. Yahoo has Search Monkey. Search MOnkey allows a publisher to structure the information that is being presented, providing a richer and more relevant experience for the searcher.
Local information and maps are in high demand on mobile devices. Grew almost 80% from 2007 to 2008. On mobile search people are usually looking for answers quickly - not web links. Yahoo is implementing oneSearch to meet this demand. Mobile search shows a high level of intent.
Next up is Alex Porter...
Campanies need to take advantage of the map listings for customers activley search for their business. ie. Yellow pages, search engines and even in-car GPS systems.
Nearly 50% of searchers who find the local vendor, reach out and interact with them.
Local is not just a 2 horse race. There are many local search providers from Yelp to Local to LocalSearch. Google is still the dominant player, so you need to be sure to show in the search results - the map listings.
Alex also recommends that you be very proactive to make sure your listing data is accurate. Go right to the sources and make your updates. Create a list of where you can be found and be sure to check it on a routine basis.
The main search engines often pull information from the local search engines like CitySearch, so this can help with your organic listings as well.
To measure this, he recommends call tracking, coupon tracking, in-store surveys and video views. Google Analytics has some data but you cannot track all local search. He also suggests implementing a KML sitemap.
To get ranked higher in Google and Yahoo you should create good content, link to your listings, get customer reviews, & place keywords in the title.
The third presenter is Bill Mongovan
He recommends creating individual landing pages for your local search results. Test content of the listing and landing page to increase conversations and conversions.
Mobile analytics are just starting to really evolve. Data available can be screen widths, device, image support, cookie support, device manufacturer, and so on. People are actually buying via their mobile devices... especially iPhones.
You may even consider creating specific apps for the mobile market. Many are available for you to take advantage of, but you might be able to brainstorm some ideas on how you can add value to mobile users.
The last presenter is Gregory Markel...
He will focus on the now and the future. He feels 3G and future tech are game changers. This includes apps, even location specific apps. GPS in these phones allow you to know exactly where the user is located.
Crital mass had finally arrived. All new devices have GPS, big screens and easy to use keypads. For example the iPhone uses three methods to determine where the user is located.
Google received 50X the number of iPhone searches compared with the 2nd highest device. The apps available and the browsing experience is making these devices mainstream. People are spending more time browsing on their devices.
Right now you have first mover advantage as these new devices are being adopted at a very fast pace. iPhone has the lead, but others are equally viable. The search engines are also starting to treat these devices seperately. An iPhone browser has its own, unique experience on Google.
He says that getting listed in Google, Yahoo and MSN local will help you address many of you optimization needs. The engines are good at using your listing to help the searcher.
PPC is also still found on mobile searches - right now it is just 2 listings at the top, but this is subject to change.
Gregory feel that traditional SEO keyword methods may no longer apply in the mobile world. Instead the smart apps, smart phone and location detector will find what the user is looking for with out keywords and clicking.
These session notes were written by Arnie Kuenn from Vertical Measures a link building services and website publicity company. Please excuse any typos or grammar issues, the session notes are written live and meant to be posted as soon as the session is over.