This is the 27th installment this year of our Deep Dive Into Local series. For the week ending Monday, July 18th, Mary Bowling and Mike Blumenthal shared their thoughts about the previous week in local. The complete video, including links and commentary on critical happenings of the previous week is posted in the Local U forums (paywall). In the second half of that video, they take a deeper strategic and tactical dive into one interesting area that caught their attention during the week.
In this discussion Mary and Mike talk about techniques for targeting out of area local searchers.
Mary: And then we’re gonna move into our deep dive now. Just out this morning, Wesley Young at SearchEngineLand wrote an article talking about how a quarter to a third of local business comes from people who are not local. And this is even in non-touristy areas. And of course most of these…
Mike: Did he say that they were people…non-resident who came into the area, or were they non-residents who were outside the area? Or is it both?
Mary: He was talking about people in the area, that were actually in the area. And that some of the reasons they were there, of course, were vacationing, visiting friends and family, business travel, and also local sports teams. Youths’ sports teams apparently do a lot of traveling. That was just completely off my radar, but I do know that I have stayed in hotels where it seemed like you know, entire floors of the hotels were some kind of youth group.
Mike: So the searches would be occurring ahead of the visit. So the sports team would be typing Olean Hotels in anticipation of the Little League tournament that’s coming up, and they would then — so it points out the need to optimize both with and without the geo modifier, I guess.
Mary: Correct. And then once they get there, they’re on their smartphone. They’re searching, and they may or may not be using the geo modifier. I guess depending on how sophisticated they are with their search habits.
Mike: Right. And sometimes Google will even though, will default search to their last known location, and so sometimes there’s a problem with Google correctly locating them. So they may still be using geo modifiers.
Mary: Yeah. Because if you haven’t opened up Maps and told Google to find your location, then it probably doesn’t know exactly where you are. The other thing I thought was really interesting about this is that they rely much more on reviews than actual locals do, because that’s pretty much the only thing they have to go on. So if anybody wants to capture that kind of business, they’d better have a lot of really good reviews.
Mike: No, that makes a lot of sense.
Mary: The flip side of this coin is that I used to work for an agency who specialized in hotels and vacation rentals, and we would have to convince the hotel owners and the bed and breakfast owners that they should be optimizing for people that were outside of — or that were in their area. Not just people who were coming to stay from outside the area.
Mike: So this goes back to the old trick, though, of even having things on your site that people visiting your store might also be interested in. So if you’re selling kayaks, you might wanna be talking about the local river or if you’re whatever, that kind of idea.
Mary: Yeah. Most definitely.
Mike: Are there other tactics that would help you take advantage of this?
Mary: I think reviews are probably the biggest thing, and possibly also, you know, depending on what niche you’re in, making sure that you’re listed on the convention and visitor bureau sites, because those are almost always the ones that show up first if somebody is searching for just a town name.
Mike: There you go. Good idea. Anything else to add to this?
Mike: Well, with that we’ll end our Pokemon special and say goodbye for the week.
Mary: Thanks, Mike.
Mike: Take care.