SEO for local search: recovery vs. discovery

When optimizing for local searches, it’s important to recognize the difference between two distinct user segments. Bruce Clay defines these as “recovery” and “discovery.” When someone knows your business but needs contact or location information, they will be searching on brands and company names. E.g. “Bob’s Widgets Seattle” ┬áThe discovery group will search on unbranded products and services, such as “widgets in seattle”. ┬áThis means that there are two types of local optimization. For recovery searchers, the task usually isn’t as difficult if you’re already ranking well on your brand, but it is imperative that such searches provide the contact and location information that the user seeks. Optimizing for the those doing discovery is much more like “classic” SEO and usually requires more effort and the standard optimization tactics.

It’s easy to forget the recovery searchers, but it’s also relatively easy to meet their needs by claiming you business listing in the major search engines and directories. Include as much useful information as possible to encourage follow-through. Remember that these are repeat customers or people who know you already. They are assets in which you have already successfully invested your brand equity and are presumably ready to buy, so remove barriers to them doing so by being generous with the contact information you provide.

The discoverers represent entirely new business prospects. Treat them like you would any other person who doesn’t yet know your business. They may come at you in two ways: through your business listing in a search engine’s results / map, or they may follow a result link to your website. The first group require a web address on your business listing. (This may seem obvious, but there are a lot of businesses that either don’t claim their listing or don’t add their URL, particularly on sites like The second will likely land on a page that most closely identifies you with the location upon which they searched. To satisfy all local searchers and even those that have come in another way, and even to improve your search rankings in local results, your physical address and a local phone number should be included on your contact page and anywhere within a section of the site associated with that location. If you only have one location or one main location in a market with multiple outlets, including your physical address in your site footer as this will often help your results in local search.

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