Google has launched a huge upgrade in their service for local businesses: Google My Business.
They've been working on a more effective management platform for local business search for years, following the widespread criticism they received as a result of confusion between Google Places and Google+ Local.
Now, with this more sophisticated local platform, the importance of optimising and effectively managing your business' local listings is even greater.
A study by Google in the US showed that 80% of consumers use local search engines to find local business information. The information consumers are looking for is simple - addresses and phone numbers, opening hours, location, and to find out what's in stock.
But the really startling stats relate to conversion rates from search to purchase.
The research revealed that 34% of people who perform a local business search on a desktop or tablet device subsequently visited the business. Impressively, more than half of all people making local searches on smartphones followed up with a visit. And the research showed that 18% of these searches resulted in a purchase within one day.
Despite this strong evidence of the power of local mobile search, many busionesses targeting local footfall continue to underperform in their local search and mobile strategies.
Our advice would be not to neglect your local directory listings, and to make sure that your website is ready to deliver the best possible user experience to visitors using smartphones. You never know when they might need you!
Here's a link to an excellent article outlining top tips for success in local search marketing: http://searchengineland.com/top-10-tips-local-search-success-194594.
Do you have any experience or tips in local search marketing to share? Please share them in the comments.