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Local Memo: Rank Isn’t the Primary Decision Factor for Consumers in Many Industries


In this week’s post, learn about a study that finds Rank may not be the deciding factor for customers in many industries; Google’s confirmation that crawl budget is based on hostname; Google testing thumbs up/down buttons on product titles; User generated videos appearing on Google Business Profiles.


Study finds Rank is Not the Primary Decision Factor for Consumers in Many Industries


The News


In a recent interview, Mike Blumenthal shared some interesting observations from a study he’s conducting on how real consumers interact with local search results. The study is focusing on how factors like Proximity, Price, Life impact, and Reputation are considered by the consumer in their decision making process.


What is striking about the study, is how different consumer behavior was across the four business verticals they have focused on to date:


  • In the Storage Industry, price and proximity were the most important factors to consumers who took part in this study. High ratings were not a deciding factor, but low ratings could exclude a business.


  • People looking for Physicians didn’t click on the paid ads, and navigated to the local finder for more options in order to pick the best doctor for them. While reputation was the #1 factor, searchers tended to favor doctors of the same sex, color and/or ethnicity as themselves.


  • In searches for Legal Services, consumers preferred local sites in organic search results over directories, looking to title tags and meta descriptions in the SERP for businesses that spoke to their needs.


  • Consumers searching for a Restaurant primarily focused on star rating, then wanted to see the menu.


Why This Matters 


Marketers tend to be so focused on rank they lose sight of what is most important to consumers. A high search ranking is no guarantee of conversion. Understanding the customer journey and the top consideration factors within your industry is the key to increasing visibility and driving more leads.


Google Confirms Crawl Budget is Based on Hostname 


The News 


A question on LinkedIn this week directed at John Muller and Gary Illyes led to a confirmation that Google crawl budgets are based on hostname. This means that subdomains have a crawl budget that is independent of the main domain site, something that was not previously confirmed on Google’s help page for large site owner’s managing their crawl budget.



An example of a LinkedIn post confirming how Google crawls the website


Source: LinkedIn


Why This Matters 


A crawl budget is the amount of time and resources search engine bots allocate to crawling a website and indexing its pages. Exceeding the allocated budget for crawling a website can lead to pages getting indexed late or not at all. To avoid this, large and medium sites should consider creating subdomains for features like blogs and local pages to avoid taxing their crawl budget.


Google Testing Thumbs Up/Down Buttons in Product Tiles 


The News


Google seems to be testing new functionality for product grid results on mobile, adding a way for customers to share their opinion on the products that appear in the grid for a more personalized experience. Brodie Clark discovered 3 variations of a test that includes thumbs up/down icons and a “more like this” button in product result titles.  A thumbs up will save that item for later and prompt future recommendations Based on your likes.



An example of popular products being shown in Google shopping





Why This Matters 


Retail businesses may see fewer product views as customers refine their product preferences in search. This should translate to a higher rate of conversion since products will be pre-qualified for customers that engage with this feature.


User Generated Videos Posted to Social Media Appearing on Google Profiles


The News 


A new feature highlighting Short videos has been spotted on some Google Business Profiles. Similar to the About this place feature first spotted by SOCi last week, Short videos seems to be tailored toward an experiential overview of the business through content generated by previous customers. What makes this feature particularly unique is that it highlights content from social channels rather than content posted directly to the business listing.



A screen share showing social media videos in Google profiles



Like the Social media updates feature which began appearing last month, the Short videos feature is currently only appearing in direct search results on mobile. 


Why This Matters 

In February, our contacts at Google seemed to confirm a theory the SEO team at SOCi has been entertaining ever since they added the ability for businesses to define the links to their social accounts in July of last year:  If Google is asking for these links, they are likely considering the number of followers, likes, shares and other social signals on those channels to validate a business’s authority and trust in their local market. This feature seems to indicate that those signals may extend to the users that interact with those channels. 


Based on all this, it is likely we may see the return of Social Signals as a ranking factor in the next Local Search Ranking Factor Study (something that has not appeared as a factor since 2018). Brands wanting to get ahead of their competition should develop local social profiles for each of their locations and create opportunities for customers to capture and easily share their experiences on their preferred network.


Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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