• History of Local Search

    Jan 27 2012

    I love local search!  And believe it or not (if you don’t now hopefully you will after looking at this graphic) local search has been around for quite some time.   I love mobile search!  Of course now, we have the power of local in the palm of our hands with all the advances in mobile marketing.  Local has come a long way baby!

    Avalaunch Media has been providing local search engine marketing for small town business owners for almost a decade and we wanted to share some of that history here.   We hope everyone enjoys using and viewing it as much as we enjoyed creating it.

    History of Local Search


    Since communication

    Asking others, talking with friends and family

    Asking the opinion of people that you trust has always been a staple of local search. Since people have been able to communicate, they’ve been sharing their favorite hunting spots, or fheir favorite coffee shops. Local business owners have been able to take advantage of this by making sure that their service/product is always the best around, thereby facilitating conversation about it.

    Top 5 Native Languages Spoken Worldwide
    1. Mandarin
    2. Spanish
    3. English
    4. Hindi-Urdu
    5. Arabic

    845 million
    329 million
    328 million
    240 million
    232 million

    1025 million
    390 million

    405 million
    452 million

    Since Written Word

    Walking/traveling & depending on signage

    People have always traveled. We have also almost always needed something when we travel. One of the ways that we find things is by walking or driving, and looking for signage. Whether its a billboard, or a sandwich board in front of a local butcher, we depend on signage to inform us.

    The US sign industry employs over 250,000
    The Sign Manufacturing industry is worth
    $11.7 billion
    67% of US sign exports are bound for Canada & Mexico


    Reading printed word

    With the advent of the printing press came the ability to print local advertising. Local advertising in newspapers & magazines have long been a staple of local search. The first yellow Pages directory was published in 1886, which featured business names and phone numbers, categorized by products and services. Whether you’re searching the classifides for something, reading about a local shop, or looking through the yellow pages, reading the printed word has been, and will be, a staple of local search

    Worldwide Circulation of Top 5 Printed Magazines

    1. The watchtower
    2. Awake!
    3. AARP The Magazine
    4. AARP Bulletin
    5. Reader’s Digest





    Radio Transmission

    In 1915, speech was transmitted from New York to San Francisco, and from Arlington VA to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The marked the beginning of radio broadcasting, which allowed people around the world to hear transmitted human voices. This communication medium has also allowed people all over the world to listen for information that is beneficial, allowing radio transmission to be a viable search medium.

    9 out of 10 people listen to the radio at least once a week


    Television Broadcast

    On January 23, 1926, John Logie Baird gave the world’s first public demonstration of a mechanical television apparatus. Since then, TV has been a vital source for information for people all around the world. People often turn to television to find local information. Today, whether its a local news broadcast, or advertising, televsion continues to play a large role in informing local search patterns.

    The Average American watches…

    4 hours a day
    2 straight months a year
    9 straight years in a lifetime



    The first internet service provider, “The World” launches, opening the doorway for people all over the world to become connected to the internet. This was the firs step in making local search informative and instantenous.

    Internet Users in the World by Region

    Asia – 44%
    Europe – 22.7%
    North America – 13%
    Latin Am/Carib – 10.3%
    Africa – 5.7%
    Middle East – 3.3%
    Oceania/Aust – 1.0%



    Craigslist started by Craig Newmark as a way of staying on top of San Francisco’s busy arts and technology scene. It quickly became a way for people to both buy and sell items online, limiting the search area to their city/area.

    60,309,277 unique visitors in November, 2011
    Erotic Services ranks among the most popular categories


    Mobile GPS

    The first instance of GPS being integrated into a mobile phone was the “Benefon Esc!” phone in 1999. Mobilizing GPS into a phone opened the way for phones all over the world to later integrate GPS as a key feature for local search functionality.

    86% of all mobile phones sold in the US come with GPS capabilities.


    Google Local Launches

    Google Local Launches in 2004 offering relevant neighborhood business listings, maps, and directions. This new local concentration gives local businesses the opportunity to have a strong web presence, connecting them ton individuals who are searching.

    20% of Google searches are for local information


    Yelp Launches

    Yelp launches in 2004 from an office on Mission Street new museum row in San Francisco. By contentrating on reviews of local places, Yelp becomes one of the most trusted sources for local search and reviews.

    Reviewed Businesses by Category

    Restaurants – 26%
    Shopping – 24%
    Beauty & Fitness – 9%
    Arts, Entertainment – 8%
    Home & Local – 8%
    Nightlife – 4%
    Health – 5%
    Travel & Leisure – 4%
    Auto – 3%
    Other – 10%

    2005 –

    The Virtual Earth

    Google & Microsoft both launch their own “Virtual Earth” applications, that combine local search with maps and arial photography, along with 3d buildings, and terrain. This is an example of local search ebing used in a different application.

    Google Earth includes 1,288 shipwrecks including the Titanic in 3D


    Google Maps

    Google Maps Released, featuring satellite views and directions. Google Maps quickly becomes one of the most trusted mapping systems on the internet.

    Google Maps usage is 40% mobile, or 150 million users.


    Google Local on Mobile

    Google Local available for mobile devices, including SMS driving directions. This step in local search allowed users to search and get directions on their mobile devices, no longer being tethered to their computers.

    Google Maps Navigation has guided 12 billion drivers a year.


    Yahoo OneSearch Goes Local

    Yahoo OneSearch begins doing local searches in 2007. Now search results in OneSearch also return local search results.

    Yahoo owns 6% of the Mobile/Table search engine share. Google owns 91%


    Google Maps Place on iPhone

    in 2007, Google Maps is placed on the iPhone. For the first time, users are able to search for what’s nearby, using a native application, and get search results shown within the context of a Google Map, on a mobile device.

    1,389,000 iPhones on the market at the end of 2007

    72,300,000 iPhones on the market at the end of 2011


    Google Android

    Google’s first Android phone, the T0Mobile G1 is launched, with GPS and full Google maps integration to make local searches not only simple, but a natural extension of the Android mobile device.

    By the end of the 3rd quarter in 2011, Android devices accounted for 53% of worldwide shipments.


    Google Place Pages

    Google launches Place Pages in Google Maps in 2009. This is one page that organizes all the relevant information about a business, point of interest, transit station, neighborhood, landmark or city, in any part of the world, in one place. Place pages include details like photos, videos, street view preview, nearby transit, reviews, and related websites.

    Google has generated nearly 40 million place pages that are waiting to be unlocked.


    Augmented Reality

    Layar launches what they market as “the first augmented reality browser”. Augmented reality browsers allow users to use their device’s camera as a way to see what is near them. Yelp’s “Monocle” feature also acts as an augmented reality browser.

    197,000,000 augmented reality capable smartphones are set to be in the global market by 2012.



    Siri, on the Apple iPhone 4s, lets you use your voice to command the phone to do things such as send messages, call, and yes, search. Siri understands natural language, and responds to your commands.

    If you use Siri 10-15 times a day she would use about 18.5 – 27.7 MB of data a month.


    Foursquare Search Options Emerge

    On January 12, Foursquare launched a new search option under the “explore” tab. This new option allows a user to search, then filter by locations that Foursquare recommends, places you’ve been to, places you haven’t been to, places your friends have been to, or just places that are offering specials.

    Foursquare now boasts 1.5 billion checkins which feed these search results.

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    Matt Siltala


    All About Matt Siltala

    President of Avalaunch Media - specializing in Social Media, Viral Marketing, Branding & SEO - Regular Search Industry Speaker. I enjoy traveling with my family and soaking up every minute that life has to offer! [read more]
    • http://www.avalaunchmedia.com/ Matt Siltala

      Thanks Thomas.

    • http://www.avalaunchmedia.com/ Matt Siltala

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.