How Local Search Technology is Changing Our Sense of Community

Throughout the depressing news on oil, foreclosures, credit, jobs and stocks; there has been little attention paid to search technology, which is quietly changing our sense of community and the way we do business.

Several trends suggest local search is not just a fad but a tsunami. Each day more and more local searches conducted. Yahoo estimates their local searches have grown by 76% in just 12 months.

This spike in use is partly due to users becoming more skilled at using local search to find exactly what they want. Search logs reveal users are adding more modifiers or attributes to describe more specifically what they want. And they are finding it.

All of this is resulting in a huge fragmentation of the Internet from global to local to niche and hyper-niche. These local niche sites or “tail sites” are popping up to meet consumer demands for more information and direct access to local markets.

Additionally more searches are being done per individual. Yahoo reports their user logs show average user local queries up from eight to twelve per month. These statistics are showing that users are finding what they are locally searching for.

The good news for local businesses is that they can now market in areas outside of their immediate location. The bad news is outside competitors can do the same thing.

Businesses can now create promotional campaigns that can compliment an online experience with an in-store experience; or combine a virtual experience with a real experience. This double barrel approach using both real and virtual appears to be the current hot ticket.

It’s called ROBO: Research Online, Buy Offline and it is the true tsunami. The trends are also showing online research often leads directly to an onsite office or store visit.

On high consideration items like cars, fully 89% of all buyers research online before making their new car purchase.

While only 10% of actual purchases are made online; 90% are still made offline. Still, that 10% represents $500 Billion dollars in sales.

Small retail merchants are also complaining about a reverse threat to their businesses: ROBO Reversed. Customers will come into their stores to see and feel a product and then go home to their computers and buy it cheaper online.

Another growing trend is the coming together of local markets and social networks, like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

With a burgeoning presence of smaller and smaller businesses on the web, local business marketing is seeing a rapid shift away from radio, TV and newspaper to local search marketing.

It’s simply a matter of Return on Investment or ROI. Advertising is an investment and increasingly the better returns are coming from search marketing and not traditional media advertising.

This better ROI is because search marketing is an entirely different way of marketing. Advertisers can target a narrower niche market with very appealing promotional campaigns at a fraction of the cost of traditional media.

A major advantage of local search marketing is shortened marketing cycles; the results are known quickly and changes can be made “on the fly.” With traditional marketing, results may not be known for weeks or months.

In the age of the Internet, as the saying goes, “he who hesitates is lost.”

With this new capability to market geocentrically, local search marketing is changing the way we buy and sell. Cars, home and garden, professional services, financial services and insurance, real estate and entertainment are increasingly being found and purchased through search technology.

We all are watching as TV and radio viewing drops, newspapers shrink and telephone directories become obsolete. This same local search technology is now beginning to drive local as well as global marketing.

In the past we chose our friends and business dealings with those we physically knew. Today, with local search technology, we can choose our friends and business dealings with anyone connected to cyberspace.

Be Sociable, Share!