Enhanced Content: The Local Search Data Gap
July 27, 2015 | Contributed by: Michael Solms
Could you imagine if you visited the website of a restaurant and they forgot to include their hours of operation? You would be left wondering: How late do they serve food? What time do they open for breakfast? Are they open on Sunday? What if a bank did the same thing? With those variable weekend hours you would be left gambling on whether to get there by 12:00pm or 1:00pm on a Saturday. It seems silly but when it comes to local listings, this is the exact problem millions of people are experiencing. This IS the local search data gap.
Studies have shown that 97% of people are searching on sites like Google to get this type of specific local business information and yet a majority of businesses continue to ignore the value in providing this enhanced content through their local listings. Keep in mind, this isn’t just an online problem, it is a mobile problem. This same data is unavailable when people are using popular mobile applications such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Yelp from their mobile device. Do I have your attention yet?
What We Analyzed
In order to discover just how big the local search data gap is, we partnered with Infogroup, the leading distributor of business listing content for consumer facing applications. Their data reaches the top search engines that account for 96% of all U.S. searches. Recently, they were cited in a Search Engine Land article as the data aggregator that offers the best value and distribution. We analyzed online listing information from various industries, specifically what information has fallen into the local search data gap and is failing to reach people searching online. The results are jaw dropping. Below is just a small sample of what we found.
Restaurants and Banks
Let’s start with the hours of operation example from the beginning of this article and see how many restaurants and banks are failing to include this in their listings. After reviewing local listing data from multiple sources for over 500,000 restaurants, we found that 61% of restaurants had submitted NO hours of operation. If you are doing the math, that is over 300,000 restaurants appearing online without hours of operation. What about banks and those tricky weekend hours? Out of over 100,000 banks, we found that 47% or over 47,000 had not submitted their hours of operation information.
- 61% of restaurants DO NOT list hours of operation
- 47% of banks DO NOT list hours of operation
Example: Wells Fargo Listing with no hours of operation. The listing has been viewed over 500,000 times by people searching online.
Apartments and Hotels
When it comes to hotels and apartments, a picture is worth a thousand words. So how many hotels and apartments are providing at least one primary image within their local listings? The answer is few and far between. Out of 111,000 apartments studied, we found that 89% were failing to feed a primary image to the major search sites online. Out of 69,000 hotels studied, 77% were missing a primary image. Nearly half of hotels studied also failed to mention whether or not they offered the following: room service, valet parking, hot tubs, indoor or outdoor pools, or if they were pet friendly. This information might be found by taking an extra step and visiting the website however another 30% of hotels failed to include their website address. Imagine the impact this is having on their business.
- 89% of apartments DO NOT have a primary image
- 77% of hotels DO NOT have a primary image
Example: Holiday Inn Express Listing with no photos. The listing has been viewed over 69,000 times by people searching online.
However the story is not the same for every industry. It was surprising to find that out of the 10 industries we studied, Auto Repair was one of the best. They were managing their local listing data significantly better than popular industries such as restaurants and hotels. After reviewing over 50,000 auto repair locations we found that more than 90% included the following data: hours of operation, payments accepted, website address, business description, and professional associations. Here are the highlights:
- 99% included a website address
- 97% included hours of operation
- 95% included payments accepted
- 92% included a business description
- 91% included professional associations
Example: Optimized listing for Logan Square Auto Repair. The listing has been viewed over 760,000 times by people searching online.
While I would love to share all of the great data and trends, sadly this article must end. We will continue to share even more from our study in future LSA Insider articles and keep an eye out for Go Local and Infogroup’s upcoming September 24th webinar with the Local Search Association that will cover all of this data and much more. Until then, mind the gap.