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No. 220
February 26th, 2009

Local Search Behavior by Industry Category

As part of a fascinating Local Search webinar yesterday on Search Marketing Now,  Greg Sterling presented a slide (above) from Comscore / TMP Directional Marketing last year (2008) about how people are searching based on industry category.

With the caveat that many more “General” searches are now yielding 10-packs at the top, I find almost every single one of these verticals fascinating.

The data clearly shows there is real value in IYP sites for less-sophisticated services (i.e. plumbing vs. dental). Perhaps this is because the quality of search results is so poor for these kinds of industries where practitioners are less likely to have web presences–there aren’t enough signals to go on to rank them accurately–see Mike Blumenthal’s study from last summer.  In the case of locksmiths & limousines, they’re also ravaged by spammers.  Or, it could be that people are just more comfortable turning to IYP’s for these industries based on their behavior before the Internet came into existence–it’s a more direct translation of an offline habit to an online one.

Frankly, I was shocked to see that so many people use IYP’s to search for insurance, which seems like a more research-oriented query than something like “moving & storage,” where you’re more likely to make one phone call & be done with it.

I’ve long been a proponent of getting your business on as many different portals as possible–as my friend Gib Olander likes to say, “other” is the 3rd largest Local search engine–both for the direct traffic they can bring as well as the increased number of citations in the #1 and #2 search engines — Google & Yahoo.  But this data suggests that the direct traffic might be significant for lower-return-per-conversion clients like plumbers–I readily admit I have no experience in marketing these kinds of businesses. 

Also interesting was the dramatically higher percentage of people using Local Search sites for Hotels.  Perhaps because sites like, Expedia, Orbitz, etc. have built up great brand names through offline advertising (I assume these are included as specifically Local rather than “General” which strikes me as Google, Yahoo, MSN).  

Anyway, I just wanted to post a few thoughts & potentially get some discussion going about this slide in the comments.