I’ve said this before: Google will own almost all “name in mind” searches going forward. These are business name lookups or address lookups.
At one time this type of search constituted a majority of yellow pages site queries, perhaps as much as 70% or more. The significance of this I’m sure is already being felt internally at directory companies. This is perhaps most acutely happening in the US but it’s a global phenomenon — with maybe a few exceptions (e.g., YPG, Yell).
There are some major strategic and tactical decisions to be made by publishers in the local space going forward. Where do mobile and other connected devices fit in? Is there one brand or several? Is it worth putting up a fight on the consumer side at all?
Here’s why consumer traffic matters: traffic acquisition costs and margins. If you’re a sales channel or “SMB agency” (as many local media companies now consider themselves) isn’t it better to have your own free traffic than to buy it from others? TAC is inevitable but how much and from whom are the questions.
In your own consumer environment you control the experience and the quality of leads delivered to advertisers in a way you can’t typically otherwise. And brand matters for long-term consumer viability. That in turn goes back to content, UI and overall usability. To a substantial degree your overall SEO viability and ability to deliver “organic” leads relies on the quality of the consumer experience you offer.
Facebook and the diffusion of local traffic sources has created more complexity for advertisers but also perhaps more opportunity for local publishers. They don’t have to rely on Google quite as much. Yet Google cannot be avoided in local.
So what do you do if you’re a local publisher that also sells ads and manages an SMB spend? This has been a persistent question. However it becomes even more pressing going forward — as Google consumes “the bottom of the funnel” and startups with free local data and lean cost structures build an ever growing cacophony of apps and sites supported by the new local ad networks.
Local publishers need to “move up the funnel.”