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During a session I ran today on local search marketing at SES Chicago, Atif Rafiq, Yahoo Local’s director of strategy and business development, presented comScore data showing that local queries grew 76 percent in February (year over year).


After going back and crunching some comScore numbers for overall search query volume, I found it has comparatively grown in the 20 percent range over this period. This supports the notion that local is growing in awareness.

A second comScore data point shows local search queries increasing per user, perhaps supporting instead that users are getting more sophisticated with their search queries.


This sophistication mostly involves using geographic modifiers when looking for something to see, do or buy locally. This growth would appear to be driven over time by successful searches that reinforce the practice of using more granular queries. This seems to be the case from additional anecdotal evidence Rafiq provided from Yahoo user logs.



For a larger sample, it would be interesting to find out what the average query length is for local searches and if it has grown over time. I believe the average query length for overall search is about four words (any data or insights are welcome in the comments section below).

Rafiq also clarified that 20 percent of searches have “local intent.” We’ve projected the number to be right in this range. It’s a difficult figure to pinpoint because it contains partially empirical inputs (i.e., searches that contain explicit geomodifiers) and a great deal more “implied” local intent (queries like “plumber”).

Whatever this number may be, my hypothesis is that it will be larger in mobile search. Given the immediacy and geographic relevance inherent in the mobile use case, local will be core matter. As such, we expect local to benefit from mobile’s clear path toward more application-level innovation over the coming months.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. What might explain the increase in local online traffic is that people are seeking more local options and are price shopping more than ever before. If my recent online habits and those who are in my circle of friends are an indicator, we are planning out shopping trips to minimize travel, seeking more local goods to minimize travel and to support local businesses, downloading coupons, price comparison shopping, and reading more reviews to be sure we are making the right choice. With financial uncertainty comes the increased need to prove value and to shop more efficently.

  2. Consumers are becoming more aware of the generic SE results and now are drilling down to a “long tail” search. Consumers don’t have to search for “books” anymore to get to Amazon. What they search for are “books in… my geographical area” so they can walk to or drive to location. Brand wars allowed consumers to direct type instead of search, while the “Starbucks” experience can only be achieved in local results.

  3. I agree with the prior comments but the simple fact that consumers can’t find or want to pick up a print directory of any sort and in reality it’s just outright easier/faster to search online!! Mobile access is most likely spurring this growth.. wonder what Google’s stats might be..??!!!

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