I've seen a lot written over the last 2 months about LOCAL, specifically use of G, Y, or MSN local.
Frankly, it surprises me. For the last few years I've been tracking this in detail and I just don't see a lot of visitor traffic off of any of any of the Local or now Google Maps advanced searches.
I participated w/ Bill Slawski in looking at algos and applications in how Google Maps works.
Its all quite interesting. BUT...my local business doesn't see much traffic, from any of the locals, nor do any of the local businesses/sites with which I assist.
So I went back and looked at traffic from the beginning of the year, according to my stats.
Here is what I see over almost 9 full months this year.
A little more than 3,000 searches/month to my site.
Typically about 30%-1/3 are searches that combine a relevant geo term and a variation on my biz service.
Call it 9,000 such searches. This is very long tail.
By example I looked at the 14 most active combos of a geo term and bus serv term for the business.
The bus is optimized for 2 states and a city (MD, VA, and Wash DC.) There are anchor text bls for a variety of bus terms with either or all of Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, DC, MD, or VA.
There are a number of business terms that I optimize for including the main business term, and quite a few variations.
Total traffic from Y, MSN, and G Local and G Maps (formerly G Local) over the nine months; 252 visits- less than 9/month.
From constantly analysing this I assume about 9,000 searches for combos of the biz terms and relevant geo terms.
I looked at the top 14 such terms.
They were things like main business term and Virginia, or Maryland, or DC, then phrases such as the state/city name first and the business term, then plural versions of the business term and state/city name, then terms such business term in Maryland DC or Virginia. Then 2ndary terms start showing up.
The first 14 such phrases generated over 1000 searches. My experience the visits and conversions really revolve around terms such as these.
The difference between this long tail approach and Google LOCAL/Maps and Y and MSN LOCAL is enormous.
I'm not sure why LOCAL is getting so much press in light of these stats.
Now my business is REGIONAL and LOCAL is not really relevant to a larger region as it is a closer smaller geography. In fact the business can be beyond regional in that we can attract customers from up to 100 miles away.
Our experience is though, that when there are viable competitors between us and the 100 mile radius we see far fewer customers. I guess the realistic radius is about 20-40 miles.
So I'm not sure if LOCAL isn't relevant or doesn't work well because the business is more regional than local, or because users don't utilize LOCAL/Maps or what...or maybe we are doing a poor job on LOCAL.
I'm wondering what your experiences are?