Is local search the chink in Google’s armour?

Interesting research from (ahem) Yahoo highlighted in Search Engine Land suggests that there are actually areas where users don’t go straight to Google – and makes encouraging reading for local news organisations.

Conducted earlier this year among 2,500 consumers, the research looked at how consumers used search in choosing local services and providers in five vertical categories. This is how it broke down:


  • Vocational Education – 67 percent of respondents used a major search engine compared to 41 percent who used local search
  • Healthcare – 53 percent used insurance provider directories while 44 percent relied on a search engine
  • Real Estate – 51 percent used a real estate vertical search engine versus 44 percent who used a major search engine
  • Legal – 36 percent of respondents referred to a search engine while 25 percent used the internet yellow pages
  • Home Contracting – 36 percent used a search engine while 26 percent used the internet yellow pages


“Consistent across categories was word of mouth. Yahoo found in every category that 75 percent of consumers relied on recommendations from friends and family during the research process. This also translated into interest in online reviews: “Yahoo’s study found that local merchants who encourage customers to post online reviews and ratings benefit from the same kind of impact seen through word-of-mouth endorsements from family and friends.””

That last point is key: content.

The post has a lot more detail on what consumers actually did – and if you want to do something about local search optimisation, this recent panel discussion should offer some useful pointers.

Now to see if news organisations and advertisers are listening…

4 thoughts on “Is local search the chink in Google’s armour?

  1. Clare

    It probably says more about how poor local content is and people's own lack of social web knowledge. The SEO industry means that all you get on Google when you search for a local company is a bunch of business directories that are often terrible to use and don't help you find what you're looking for. It's a shame because businesses are missing out on customers looking for them.

  2. ram

    I think one of the journalists kinda capped it when he said Where the search stumbles!! Local Find not search will be a different ball game altogether and directional media spend will increasingly overtake genral ad spend and google/yahoo will have to come with a game plan. Google’s intuit tie up is in this direction.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.