I talk to local businesses every day about their visibility in search results. And what amazes me is how many have no idea what their Google Place page is. I’ll pull it up in front of them, show them the information that Google, in one tidy page, has compiled on their business. And there is this kind of amazed reaction- “Hey- will you look at that!” Kind of like magic.
All of this info on who they are, where they’re located, what kind of business they are– all set for consumers to use when they do a local search on a computer or mobile phone. Of course, a good portion of the info in there can be wrong — since they never claimed, corrected and added info to this very basic, machine-compiled data. (which, when they realize that fact, then creates a different reaction). But the fact that there is a page about their business on the web that plays a big part as to whether they will make a lot of money at what they do, or very little money—and they are clueless about its existence– continues to stun me. And since estimates are that only 4 to 5% of businesses have actually made the effort to claim their Place Page, I guess it’s not just the people I’m talking to that could use some enlightenment.
So here is another piece of data hot off the wires as to why I think businesses large and small might want to wake up and smell the java.
New Emphasis on Google Places Page
Hitwise just reported some data recently that is hinting at a trend that I believe is going to rapidly accelerate. And that trend is that the Google Place page is going to become a vital “second site” for many businesses.
The recent algorithm change for Google Places in late October 2010 shifted more emphasis to the Place Page for each business. More data from the Place page is surfaced in local search results. And new, more obvious links to the Place Page from these results mean more people going directly to these pages in both Local and Mobile Searches. Data to confirm this has been difficult to find, but the first indication hinting at this was reported by Hitwise in their December data on the search engines.
The December data shows that for Bing powered search (meaning now both Bing and Yahoo), 81% of searches resulted in a visit to a web site. In contrast, only 65% of Google’s searches resulted in users then leaving Google to travel to an outside site. So either Google search stinks (which last time I checked seems less than likely), or Google users are finding what they need without ever actually going to an external site. As Search Engine News commented in their January newsletter (subscription required):
That’s a fairly important metric, it tells you that Bing is much more likely to send a Web site traffic than Google, if their market share were the same. We have to wonder if that rate is due to the recent incorporation of Google Local into the search results, and Google’s recent push to drive traffic into Google Places.
While this search click through data is definitely a signal of the impact of Google’s wider strategy of retaining searchers on its own pages (rather than sending them to the sites that are creating the content Google is scraping) it also hints at the larger trend of increasing focus on the Place Page. It may be time for you to focus a whole lot more on this page too.