Search engines have completely changed how we research, learn, collaborate, and find things online. According to the local search experts at GetListed.org:
Today there are well over 10 billion unique searches done each month, and that’s just in the United States! Of those searches,
40% of queries have Local intent (1)
5% use the city and/or state name 2% use informal terms, like neighborhoods 0.5% use zip codes
On Yahoo alone, 100 Million unique visitors per month search with “local intent” (2). We can extrapolate that there are HALF A BILLION unique Local searches per month on Google, based on Yahoo’s ~15% market share (though we’ve not seen any “hard numbers” released by Google about its average Local Search volume). We’ve seen both Google and Yahoo make dramatic shifts in how they return results in 2008, and all the trends point to Local.
On top of that data, respected technology experts around the world think the world of mobile search is ready to take off in 2009 and 2010.
However, you don’t need to be a local search expert to recognize the value of local search. Ask your friends, family, and clients how they would search for an attorney online. I’m willing to bet that many of the people you ask will include some form of geographic modifier like a city, county, state, or zip code.
Even if they are still using very general search terms, as more search engines implement predictive and suggestive search, even unsophisticated users will be directed to search phrases with geographic intent.
With Google’s recent Place Search update, we have witnessed many law firms that didn’t pay attention to local search signals lose visibility within search engines.
The importance of local search to local businesses, like law firms, is only going to increase as more Internet users search from mobile devices. Classic law firm seo strategies simply aren’t enough to maintain visibility as search engines place greater weight on local and social signals.