Who Does Local Search Best?

Local Search
Local Search
I got distracted today and the result of that distraction is this post. I was curious about something dealing with local search and the SERPs – so I decided to do a little comparison. The four major search engines I compared are Google, Yahoo, MSN and ASK. I wanted to find out how their specific local programs compared to one another when searching for non geo-targeted terms? I wondered if I would get any usable results without using a geo-modifier? The following screen-shots are going to explain the title of this post much better then any of my words can. I am also pretty sure that including ASK as a major search engine is a choice I will regret later on, but then again it is the official search engine of NASCAR (and that’s got to count for something, right??)! I have been a huge Google Local fan for what seems forever, and this post is all the proof I need to know I need to keep using it. I have also been a huge fan of local online advertising, and in many of my posts I share local advertising techniques. I do not know why it is so hard for businesses and other SEOs/Internet marketing firms to remember to include the simple local programs that are offered – for free! As I was comparing some of the local results with various search engines, I thought it would be interesting to see when local advertising results appear when non geo-targeted phrases are searched. In other words – lets say you live in Arizona, and are looking for a custom pool builder, but instead of searching for “Arizona Custom Pools”, you simply do a search for “Custom Pools”. Which of the search engines are going to help you find results that are relevant to your local area the best? And the winner is: Google. (no surprises here huh?)
Google Local Results
Google Local Results
I did a search on Google for “custom pools” and got these results back (see screen-shot) that give me mostly local Arizona results, even though I searched without the “Arizona” in the phrase. The local results are some of the ones that come up, which is actually the whole point of this post. So, make sure you add your business to the local areas that the search engines allow you to. It is also noteworthy the way that Google includes some local image results which can be picked up from many different places – this occurs by using the right “geo-targeted” keywords in your alt tags and including the right information when you upload your pictures of places like Flickr. Next up: Yahoo The next screen shot is of Yahoo, and the reason I am not pleased with any of these results is because not one of them is a local result. They also show nothing in the form of local results as Google does.
Yahoo Local
Yahoo Local
Of course, I think it’s still important to get a local listing with Yahoo. But, I think that Yahoo can do much better. I modified the search to include “Arizona” in the search phrase, and guess what? Still none of the results are from the Yahoo Local results program. Lots of local results, but nothing that makes it easy to find a local pool builder near me! Yes, It does make a difference too because if it (the SE) finds a builder that is closer to you – that’s a better result. The #1 result for this search was for a company that builds far away from where I live. How is that going to help me? I want results to come up that are useful and that will help me in my area and this is where the local results program could really come into play. MSN: The funny thing here was most of the results that came back on MSN, were for the East coast. How is that going to do me any good in Arizona? However, MSN did do a better job at getting me decent usable local results (compared to Yahoo) when I modified the search phrase to include “Arizona”, but still did not bring back any of the MSN Local program results – which again, I think would be the “best” result.
MSN Local
MSN Local
Finally, ASK: Ask did not bring back any local program results, which I thought they would have, but to my surprise they did list citysearch as the #1 result which I think is far more useful then any of the results that Yahoo and MSN brought back. Even when I modified the search to include “Arizona”, ASK did not offer up any local results = FAIL.
ASK Local
ASK Local
Although, I feel many of these search engines failed, I do still think it’s very important to obtain the local listing through the local program for each SE. Why? Because, there are many times they work really well… for example any time you include a specific town/city. I just wanted to run this little test to see how every SE compared. Google rocked it of course and what is interesting is that no one else is copying the Google. And usually they do! It was also cool to see how local businesses, if listed with Google Local, can earn a top 10 ranking out of (in this case) 200 plus million sites for a non geo-targeted seach phrase such as “custom pools”. That alone should be reason enough for any local business to take the time to get listed with Google Local. So besides obtaining the local program listings on all of the major search engines, I have noticed that obtaining listings in other local directories like the following (see below) have helped increase the search engines awareness of your local presence – and I think are a MUST!
  1. CitySearch
  2. YellowPages
  3. USCity
  4. AOL Local Search
  5. Local Search Guide
  6. Yelp
  7. Local.com
In conclusion: The bottom line here is to make sure you go to Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask (TODAY) and sign up for the local programs. It is fast, easy, and free. If you need help figuring out whether you are listed with them or not, you might want to try Get Listed, which a great resource that will help walk you through what you need to be doing. Got anything to add to this? Let me know. I love comments! Thanks!

7 thoughts on “Who Does Local Search Best?

  1. MiriamEllis says:

    Greetings, Matt,

    I enjoyed your post. I wanted to ask a question, as you are a Local fan. How local do you consider the phrase ‘Arizona’ to be? Did you try searching for city names (phoenix, az. etc?)while doing this test? My guess is that this might have gotten you some more local results than simply searching by state. The general public searches in some very weird ways for local things, but with something like a pool contractor, my bet is that they’d be looking for something truly local (county or city). I wondered what you were thinking about this doing your searches.

    MiriamEllis’s last blog post..Watching Weeds Grow Around The Phone Book

  2. Mat Siltala says:

    Arizona, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe etc. didn’t matter – that was not the point of the post – the point was if you are listed with Google Local – you could get found when people type in keywords without any kind of geo-targeting – my example was custom pools – the local results came up for Arizona businesses when no Arizona related keywords were searched for. This is the power of Google Local and was my purpose for comparing – I hope this helps.

  3. Joost Kesler SEO says:

    Hi guys. Here in Holland we have a lot of local search engines.
    Ilse.nl is a very popular one. But all SEO people focus on Goolge nowadays.
    I think with the more local search engines we can generate a lot of traffic for our customers.
    We now are starting to offer translations as well. Does anybody has experience in that field?

  4. Craigslist Search says:

    Hi Mat,

    I think you need to check out craiglook.com
    It’s a local search for Craigslist – allows you to browse craigslist ads within Zip / radius. Especially useful if you’re looking for garage sales, used furniture, electronics, services or businesses in your area and not really interested in anything which is more than X miles away from your house.

  5. Frugalocal says:

    I agree that Google does local search best. Although as a local business owner that doesn’t mean alot, even if with a Google local listing. Google randomly shuffles those results around, one month you might be listed and the next few months nothing.

  6. Regina says:

    Frugalocal :I agree that Google does local search best. Although as a local business owner that doesn’t mean alot, even if with a Google local listing. Google randomly shuffles those results around, one month you might be listed and the next few months nothing.

    I have had my local listing in the top 3 for 4 different categories for the past 2 months. Ahead of many very large companies.

    Does a heck of a lot for my business. Thousands of impressions, many clicks to my site, and even more phone calls. None of this would have happened w/o the local listing. I could never get to the top in organic listings. Simply too much competition in my line of work.

    I did my own local SEO work, but even if I had to pay a pro several hundred dollars to do it, the return is worth it. One day, things might change and I could get pushed down or off the local listings. But while there, nothing beats it.

    Just as important, I don’t want to NOT be listed. Sorry for the double negative.

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