Local Search, Meet Facebook’s Graph Search

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “Facebook Takes on Local Search.”

Consumers use the Internet to search for local businesses, events, and topics. Google is a major player in local search, but so is Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp, YellowPages.com, Foursquare, and other sites. Local search now has a new competitor: Facebook Graph Search.

Launched this week, Facebook’s new search product focuses on finding connections between people, photos, places, and interests. But the most interesting aspect of Facebook search is its potential in the local search space.

Recommendations from friends are a powerful inducement to try something new, and Facebook search makes it easier to discover the places and things your friends like.

Facebook has had the pieces for this new product for a while — Places and Pages to house business information, the ability to friend or follow, and the ability to check in and comment. All of these are vital pieces of the puzzle.

But each interaction with a Place or Page was merely dumped into the user’s Facebook News Feed or Timeline. The result was a fleeting stream of information that might get noticed but would probably be overlooked or quickly replaced with something newer. Those are all missed connections, missed chances to discover.

With Facebook search, these connections are discoverable at will….

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Using Local Search to Drive Local Sales

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource’s weThink blog: “Converting Online Visitors to Offline Customers.”

Local search is a critical component in the quest to drive online visitors into brick and mortar stores to complete their purchases. Research by comScore has shown that 49% of local searches are conducted without a specific business in mind, and 61% of searchers consider local results to be more relevant than standard search results. In addition, even for major brands with ecommerce capabilities, some customers will want to see and feel and try on products before making a purchase decision. Winning these potential customers’ foot traffic via local search requires a combination of store locator features on your site, search engine optimization and local feed optimization.

Local search results are divided into two areas: localized web search results and local places results. Localized web search results are simply part of the standard 10 blue links on a search results page, with content specific to your location. Local places results are displayed with a map and contain primarily address, phone number and URL information. These two types of search results are blended into the search results page together, but different forms of optimization are required to be included in each.

Inclusion in localized web search results is primarily about local SEO on your own site and the effectiveness of the store locator. Local places search requires a more comprehensive program of off-site optimization including feeds, social media and store locator data. Read the article in full for more on:

  • Store Locators on Your Site
  • SEO for Local Content
  • Off-Site Optimization

Read the article in full at Resource’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Is Your Store Locator Hiding?

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Can Local Searchers Find Your Stores?

Store location pages fill a need much larger than the physical address of a store close to the individual user. Many customers already know where a store is based on their everyday routines. What they don’t know and are seeking are the hours, holidays that the store is closed, services offered, manager’s name, phone number to call for questions about items, etc. The store locator, then, needs to answer these individual store questions.

Now consider searchers: For all intents and purposes they can drop out of the sky from Google or Bing and land on any page on the site. That makes every page on the site a potential landing page that needs to be able to command customers’ confidence and convert searchers to some next step.

The ideal would be to search Google for a store location, like [northbrook furniture store], and get the exact store locator pages for the relevant stores. This rarely happens, however. Read on to discover why and what you can do about it.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.