Back in May we observed a big shift in the Google search results for a host of local service and retail queries. I documented some of the observations in my local search expert (designed experiment on links) column on Clickz entitled “Was the Penguin Update in Fact the Honey Badger Update?”.
In effect Google’s Penguin update seemed to favor directory sites; both Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) sites and vertical listing aggregator sites at the expense of actual local business sites.
Here was an example SERP:
It has been a few months since the original observation, and even with the “Venice” update aimed at improving local search results, the directory listings are still occupying favorable positions surrounding the local listings.
This got me to wonder if the changes had impacted IYP usage and traffic? As we pointed out in the 15miles/Localeze Local Search Study conducted by comScore, IYP traffic and usage had declined over the past year. So did the algorithm move by Google breath new traffic into the IYP and directory vertical?
While not a scientific cause and effect study, the following results from Google Trends might indicate there has been relationship to SERP change favoring IYPs and traffic increases:
Note the increase in traffic starting in the April May time-frame.
My original advice in the column was:
“I propose advertisers monitor their positions for now and take a wait-and-see approach. The local search space is vital to Google’s success and future growth. As Google shifts its strategy to more semantically-based search algorithms, I am sure we will see many anomalies that it will quickly revise. So give it a month; if it hasn’t changed, I’ll be refreshing my old column on directory advertising optimization.”
My new advice:
Review your local traffic generation from this summer, has it declined from last year/quarter. If yes take a look ad IYP directory options, as some of your leads/traffic may have migrated. Here at 15miles, we actively monitor local search traffic on behalf of our clients and adjust campaign elements to leverage changes in traffic/ lead patterns.