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Search Keywords Mean Business

Businesses that focus on branded searches may be missing out on the visitor traffic that comes from generic search terms.

Companies spend a fortune protecting their brands. But in the context of local search advertising, keywords may matter more than trademarks.

Google claims that more people (82%) use online search engines like Google than any other medium to find local information. The number of mobile searches with a local focus is estimated to be almost 30%, according to The Kelsey Group.

And local search is only becoming more important, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and the tech industry's focus on location-oriented data and services.

Small businesses that focus on their own brand, says Bret Fitzgerald, VP of business development for marketing services company Clearlink, are losing out on a significant amount of online traffic if they ignore generic keywords.

The reason is that far more people conduct local searches for generic terms like "pizza" or "coffee" than bother with a branded search like "Round Table Pizza" or "Peet's Coffee."

"Generally speaking, you see more searches around categorical terms than branded ones," said Kelly Hansen, local search director of operations at Clearlink.

For example, Clearlink, which manages local and map search listings for small businesses, tracked some 2,400 searches for "pizza phoenix" in the Phoenix, Arizona, area last month, but only 1,600 searches for "pizza hut phoenix" and 320 searches for "dominoes pizza phoenix."

In Austin, Texas, the preference for generic terms was even more pronounced. Clearlink saw 3,600 searches for "pizza austin," 91 searches for "pizza hut austin," and 170 searches for "dominoes pizza austin."

Fitzgerald says that it's imperative for businesses to understand that they can bring in customers if their local listings are managed properly, so that they show up for the appropriate generic queries in Google Maps, for example.

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