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Comparative value of biz-specific searches, and descriptive searches?

 8:43 pm on Apr 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

How do you see the value of traffic hitting a local directory from descriptive information/transaction searches (e.g. "bed and breakfast in placename", "placename mobile beauty salon") vs business-specific searches (e.g. "Example Name Bar", "ACME Solicitors placename")?

My instinct is that the purely generic searches would be significantly more valuable to an advertiser, because they represent a visitor who's on the lookout for an "answer" to what they're looking for, but who's not yet made up their mind.

The business-specific searches on the other hand are in a sense "borrowing the click" from the business in question, a business that by definition the searcher's already heard of.

What do you think? Is there any data (anecdotal or otherwise) to support one view or another?


Robert Charlton

 7:43 am on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

The distinction makes sense as far as it goes... but I think that both types of information are necessary in a directory for Google to rank a local directory organically for either the "placename business-type" searches or for the "placename business-name" searches.

Local directories that offer reviews and other unique information are necessary to add value to business name-specific searches. These directories include pages devoted to the individual businesses, which are expected to be searched for by name. Think "Yelp", etc. These are the directories which offer unique information and which Google is most likely to rank for name-specific searches.

Generally, I find that these are the directories that also rank for business type or category searches. If you expect a directory to rank in competitive search, it will need to be a well-structured directory that offers both types of content.

Google does not want simply database sorts of information that everybody has. For "placename business-type" searches, Google prefers to return local business websites or Place Pages instead of all but the most useful directory sites.

How many of each type will rank depends on what's available in a given geo-area. Google will generally give preference in its organic rankings to locally based sites.


 8:05 am on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree with all that you said there, but my focus was more on the relative value of incoming traffic to such a directory rather than on the merits of including the different types of information. My (unstated) assumption was that it already contained both types of information. Sorry not to have been clearer.

In other words, is traffic as a result of "placename business-type" searches worth much less, less, about the same, more or much more than traffic from "placename business-name" searches?

Robert Charlton

 1:14 am on Jun 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry for the delay, Edwin. I've meant to get back to this sooner.

In other words, is traffic as a result of "placename business-type" searches worth much less, less, about the same, more or much more than traffic from "placename business-name" searches?

I think this is oversimplifying it. Assigning value with much precision in the abstract would be almost impossible to do. It would depend a lot on the type of business and the nature of its "buying cycle." The length of a buying cycle and the complexity of the product also enter into it. Marketers often attach different types of searches to different points or phases in the cycle.

In local, factors like the importance of brand, individual business reputation, location, price, business hours, how fussy the customer is likely to be about a given type of purchase, etc are all involved.

There's a whole area in marketing now called attribution modeling or attribution marketing which tries to evaluate all marketing exposures rather than just what produced the last click.

I think I understand where you're coming from with regard to your question. In the early days of SEO, I was frustrated by businesses that felt that they had nothing further to do once they ranked for their business name. I always felt that this suggested a lack of imagination. My sense of it was that once potential buyers were aware of the business name, most of the job had already been done, and that the most valuable clicks were earlier in the chain.

They were clearly thinking of the final click at the end of the chain, which put customers directly in touch, whereas I was thinking of all the possible earlier clicks that might produce awareness of who they were. It's not possible to do without any one of these clicks, of course... but some of them are harder to achieve than others.

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