Last Wednesday (12th February 2014) I had the opportunity to talk at one of the last SES events (before it becomes Clickz Live) in London on Local Search with Gregg Stewart. In the talk I discussed the growing influence of local, with 1 in 3 searches now classified as having local intent – up from 1 in 5 from figures I found back in 2011.

Off the 2 trillion odd queries undertaken each year, over 720 Billion of those are locally orientated. Mobile in these queries plays a massive part with over 50% of mobile queries having local intent – a massive factor in the growth that we have seen in mobile. Mobile penetration as you would imagine has been a fundamental part of this – with mobile penetration now standing at around 62%. In terms of how this affects searches, this varies considerably by vertical with sectors such as travel and automotive enjoying far more cut through in terms of mobile breakout (over 40%) in comparison to the likes of Finance where mobile queries only account for just over 25% (Banking 24%/Insurance 28%)

Much of this has led to Google having to rethink how they classify websites and what results ultimately you see as a browser. Venice went a long way towards dealing with local intent – and with the launch of Hummingbird Google are now in a position to deal with natural language queries and better classification of content.

What I would add is that organic techniques are not necessarily the best way to increasingly tackle the local search conundrum. Paid Search results are increasingly taking up greater and greater real estate on the page, with many results I observed during the research for the presentation now occupying upwards of 90% of the available real estate on the search pages. As a result, organic is now being squezzed off the page – and opportunities such as Location based bid optimisation, Location extensions and call extensions will increasingly play a more important part in ensuring that advertisers can maximise their cut-through in the search results.

As a final point I went on to say that reviews will increasingly become part of the local landscape – as the integration of Google+ throughout the Google eco-system continues. We are increasingly seeing personalisation and social proofing break out into the mainstream results – and I would not be surprised to see much more evolution of this throughout the course of 2014 and beyond.


Its been a year of change, for both sides of the search landscape. It should come as no surprise therefore to see Google’s Q3 figures reflecting what should be construed as a positive 2013 with Google seeing a significant increase in the volume by which users engage with its ads, mitigating to a certain degree a decline in the amount it charges marketers per click.

The latest figures made good reading for the

  • Revenue grew by 12% YOY to $14.9bn during Q3 (three months to 30 September 2013)
  • Profit grew 36 per cent to $2.97bn.
  • Average CPC  fell 8% quarter on quarter, deepening the 6 per cent decline in the second quarter.
  • Total paid clicks increased 8% quarter on quarter, and a huge 26% YOY

Much of this increase in clicks can be attributed to a significant increase in users accessing Google’s search properties via mobile devices . The migration to enhanced campaigns will obviously be a massive factor behind this as more advertisers engage with mobile as part of the paid search strategies – however for anyone that has been researching into the online marketplace, mobile and tablet usage is significantly up year on year and increasingly taking more and more market share away from desktop. The higher breakthrough of mobile will obviously factor into the reduced average CPC”s as mobile CPC’s are often still lower than those of their desktop equivalents despite the move to enhanced campaigns, though certainly that difference will have become less pronounced in many cases.

With more and more innovation being introduced to the PPC landscape such as shared endorsements, these trends are unlikely to change in the short term. More advanced targeting options such as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) are increasingly allowing more sophisticated campaign planning so certainly the trends behind increased clicks and revenues would be ones I would expect to grow even more during the course of 2014.

RLSA in particular is something I would expect to see greater growth on during the course of 2014, as experience of the product becomes more advanced and learnings thereoff increase significantly during the latter part of 2013 however with Q4 looming one would be a fool to expect to not expect a similar trend at the end of the year



Are Google creating themselves a problem with Google+ Local

August 22, 2013

Its been interesting watching the increasing encroachment of the Zagat recommendation framework into the mainstream Google results over the last couple of months. During the last 12 months, Google’s local framework – which lets be honest was never particularly great to start with – has undergone a significant overhaul and has now been incorporated into [...]

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Google SERP change – what impact will it have?

August 14, 2013

It would appear Google are in the midst of a SERP test (as identified by my trustee sidekick Dan Bell) which could provide a significant boost to brands on brand related searches. In the test highlighted below, the relevant brand result appears to have a number of significant enhancements which significantly improve the “standoutedness” of [...]

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The Google Dichotomy – Authorship

June 27, 2013

I don’t blog much. Mainly because I believe in not regurgitating things that have already been said better by someone else. An approach that means (due to my very talented network of colleagues past & present) I’m usually the last one to turn up whenever anything exciting happens in the industry. However, sometimes I can [...]

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Why You Can’t Overlook Video In Your Content Strategy

June 25, 2013

In the fast-paced world of web marketing, new strategies with social media and interactive content are swiftly replacing traditional marketing techniques. This can be detrimental for the businesses that don’t keep up, but for those that are willing to employ a flexible and creative content strategy, now is a great time to tackle a video-based [...]

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Google enters the “native ads” marketplace

June 5, 2013

Native ads are not a new concept – however they are a hugely topical subject within the online marketplace at the moment. For the layman, they include what many people call advertorials/edi-vertorials – and are something that have been utilised both on and offline by advertisers and publishers for years. In fact – up until [...]

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Looking at the landscape. Did Penguin 2 live up to hype

June 4, 2013

The following was a post I wrote for the IGB magazine to co-incide with the IGamingSupershow Amsterdam event. There have been a lot of column inches written about Google’s latest version of the search link algorithm called Penguin – both pre and post the launch of Version 2.0 late last week. For many including myself, [...]

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10 things that SEOs can learn about PR in a post Penguin 2.0 World

May 28, 2013

So, after a few weeks of fear mongering by Matt Cutts, Penguin 2 (the sequel) wasn’t quite as terrifying as the original. Sure sites have seen ranking drops, but these were in line with expectations and many SEOs were already battle hardened from last year’s update. We’ve had a year since the last update and [...]

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High Court awards Interflora damages in Google AdWords trademark row

May 21, 2013

In a case that seems to have gone on forever – it seems that the high court have taken the dramatic step of awarding Interflora damages in the long running case against Marks and Spencers – something that may have wider repurcussions for Google and the wider paid landscape as a whole. Justice Arnold ruled [...]

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