Local Businesses Get More Love From Google Search

Key Things to Remember:

  • Google displays more local pack results than Yahoo or Bing
  • Google is most confident in the quality of it’s local data set to keep local businesses from being squeezed out of organic positions by large websites
  • Google gives fewer Page 1 positions to ‘Leisure’ businesses than Yahoo or Bing
  • Search terms with a ‘Geo-modifier’ return many more local results

Last year Bright Local conducted research on which of the three main Search Engines gave the most space on their 1st page of results to local businesses; Google, Bing or Yahoo (see post). Now, 16 months later, they revisited the question and refreshed the results in an all new ‘Local SERPs showdown for 2015′.

3 Important questions to answer

In conducting & publishing this research, they wanted to answer these 3 questions:

    • Which Search Engine gives more 1st page space to local businesses?
    • How does the split of search results vary by keyword type?
    • How does the split of search results vary for geo-modified vs non-geo modified keywords?

Results explained

They carried out a series of searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo for a range of keywords covering seven different types of local businesses in a variety of locations.

The research is split into three parts – the first examines results from keywords without a location included, the second part looks at keywords with a location & the third looks at leisure keywords (eg, restaurants, bars). The charts display how many different types of results each search engine included – and also a comparison to last year (in brackets).

A full run-down of the methodology is available On the Bright Local blog, but here are some of the highlights:

Result Types (they analyzed 3 common result types)

  • Local results (‘Pack’)
  • Large Websites results (‘Organic’)
  • Local Business website results (‘Organic’)

Location Intent (they analyzed both Geo-Modified Terms vs Non-Geo Terms)

  • e.g. “plumber chicago” vs “plumber”

Generic Search Terms (non-Geo terms)

The average number of results for ‘local/pack’, ‘large websites’ & ‘local business websites’ are shown below – with a comparison to the same amount from 2014 shown in brackets.

Note – search engines often displayed more than 10 results on 1st page.

Key Findings:

  • Google displays the highest amount of local results (6) versus Bing (3) and Yahoo (4)
  • ‘Large websites’ receive as much, or more Page 1 real estate as local business

generic search results


Similar to last year, Google certainly appears to champion local businesses more than other search engines and continues to give more Page 1 space to local results for generic keyword searches.

However, overall large websites (i.e. non-local, non-SMB) get the lion’s share of results on Page 1. Large sites (e.g. Yelp, Wikipedia, YouTube, Merriam-Webster, etc…) are given 50-65% of  Page 1 space, which limits the space for local businesses to gain visibility.

Of the 10 organic results that Google displays, only 2 were given to local business websites. This is similar to both Bing and Yahoo – who actually show less organic results overall (8 & 9 respectively). These similarities are expected, as Bing serves most organic results within Yahoo main search.

For local businesses wanting to gain visibility on high traffic generic searches there isn’t much organic ranking opportunity. The local pack results offer their best shot at Page 1 rankings, which highlights the importance of a well-optimized local presence.

Long Tail Search Terms

Key Findings:

  • Google displays 50% fewer local results vs 2014 for long tail keywords
  • Yahoo displays most local results vs Google & Bing
  • Google and Bing both display more ‘large websites’ vs 2014

Longtail search term results


Since 2014, Google and Yahoo now display fewer local pack results for long tail terms (while Bing still only shows 1). Not great news for local business owners.

However local businesses get more of a shout out in the organic results with 50% more organic places being given over to local business results. The ‘long tail’ is viewed as an opportunity for smaller businesses to compete more equally vs larger sites, as they can be very specific with their content and searcher intent is much clearer with long tail terms than with generic terms.

Specific searchers are typically higher converting users so this is just the sort of traffic that businesses owners want!

Yahoo is  Consistent

On average, Yahoo displayed the highest amount of local results for long tail searches (4), while both Google and Bing reduced their local offering to 1 or 2 results.

Yahoo is the only Search Engine to show the same amount of local results for longtail keywords as it does for generic keywords. Interestingly, throughout this study, Yahoo’s local offering rarely changes much, while Google and Bing show a varying amount of local results based on the type of search.

Geo-Modified Search Terms

Key Findings:

  • Search terms that include a Geo-modified Keyword return more local results overall
  • Local/SMB businesses get much more organic positions vs. Large websites
  • Large websites get fewer organic positions when the search term contains a Geo-Modifier

Geo location and search


As mentioned earlier, Yahoo returns a similar amount of local results no matter what search term we entered, however Google and Bing clearly believe that searches with a Geo-modifier have a clearer local intent and are best served by showing more local results.

It isn’t just the local ‘pack’ results that gain prominence. All three search engines show a higher proportion of local business websites in organic results at the expense of ‘large websites’.

Long tail + Location = highest % of local business websites in organic

geo plus longtail search

Searching with a long tail keyword + a location is about as strong an indication you can give, that you are looking for a business in the local area – so it’s of little surprise that all three returned the highest amount of organic local business results for this type of term.

Geo-modified keywords offer the greatest visibility for local businesses. The results of this study demonstrate the importance of using location terms in website content, page titles & alt tags – as well as off-site optimization in things such as links and citations.


Originally Posted at:  https://www.brightlocal.com/2015/07/14/google-more-generous-to-local-businesses-than-other-engines/