We recently released the Kenshoo Guide to Local Search. Our guide series is geared towards education and best practices on a particular topic and, what all of us discovered from working on the Guide to Local Search was: wow, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the local marketing space!

First, it’s worth noting that local marketing has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years, and it’s estimated that more than half all US digital ad spending will have a local focus in 2014. There is a major opportunity for digital marketers to gain a bigger piece of local advertising budgets, and as they do, those who understand the nuances of local search will be best positioned to connect with consumers while they are in discovery mode and researching goods and services.

According to BIA/Kelsey, 97% of consumers use online media to shop locally, with 90% utilizing search engines in the process. Search engines are just one of the 4 key components to local search, as highlighted in our latest infographic, Solving the Local Search Puzzle.

While search engines play a vital role in achieving success, there are a few more elements to local search that, when utilized to their fullest capability, can take your program to the next level, including: Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) & directories, maps and location listings, and reviews & recommendations.

IYPs & directories contain company information that used to be housed in old, thick phone books and has since been digitized. This information can include company name, phone number, website URL, and address. Within these directory listings, consumers can find maps & location listings — the third piece to the local search puzzle. While often included in these listings, business locations and maps can also appear within search engines or standalone applications. It can be quite tedious for marketers to manage listings across dozens of IYPs and directories themselves, so partnering with a vendor that can help manage the listings will save lots of time and energy.

The last piece to the local search puzzle, reviews & recommendations, has gained importance in recent years as social sharing has increased in popularity. Searchers look for reviews and recommendations that provide customer opinions and experiences to increase trust in a business and, in turn, increase the likelihood they will do business with them.

When you think about local search from a consumer’s perspective, the four pieces to the local search puzzle seem logical. A consumer who is in discovery mode wants to answer this key question: Where can I find an organization’s website, contact information, location, and reviews in order to meet my needs? By completing all four pieces to the local search puzzle, marketers are able to provide consumers with the answers to this question and drive interaction and new business.

When it comes down to it, local search is all about the consumer and his or her locally-focused intent. Put the consumer at the center when activating your local search strategies across these four key avenues – Local Search, IYPs/Directories, Maps/Listings, and Reviews/Recommendations – and you’ll be poised to solve the local search puzzle.

Click the image below to view the full infographic.