When looking for business locations, Americans search for food above all else.
In a typical month Google users search for business locations just over 3 million times. Nearly 44% of those searches are for food, which does not include grocery stores. That is more than TWICE the volume of location searches for the other top 5 location search categories combined! What are the top categories? Restaurants at 44%, Drug Stores at 14%, Shopping at 11%, Banks & Money at 5%, and Grocery Stores at 4%.
Fitness related searches for health food, gyms, etc.? That was grouped in other at a tick over 1% of all searches. The entire category is 1/4th as much as searches for Subway and IHOP. Fitness and health location searches as a whole rank below individual searches for Cracker Barrel, Chick-Fil-A, Sonic, and Panera. Even searches for the phrase Federal Inmate Locator rank higher!
What are the top searches for locations?
Panera Bread 5.47%
Whole Foods 2.37%
Home Goods 2.37%
Cracker Barrel 1.3%
There are a lot of different comments that can be made on what this kind of data says about modern day lifestyles. However I stumbled across this interesting statistic via a different path. I was not looking for lifestyle trends but doing research on my target demographic for the Store Locator Plus business locator product. Obviously I need to focus on features that best serve the restaurant industry while planning my 2015 development schedule.
Store Locator Plus version 4.2.19 was released tonight. This version has been tested with the latest WordPress 4.1 release candidate that is scheduled for public release any day now. Minor CSS updates were made to the Store Locator Plus default theme to address changes in the forthcoming Twenty Fifteen WordPress theme that is coming as part of WordPress 4.1.
Store Locator Plus version 4.2.03 is out today. Yes, it has been fully tested with the latest version of WordPress 4.0 beta release candidate 4 complete with cool new plugin installer icons.
This update is mostly behind-the-scenes changes that provides the tools needed to produce streamlined add-on packs. Add on packs that use the 4.2 add-on system will take less memory and provide a more consistent user experience. Several add-on packs are under development with 2 new add-on packs, Directory Builder and Location Extender, scheduled for release today.
[box]You MUST update Pro Pack and Janitor to the latest version BEFORE upgrading to SLP 4.2. Pro Pack should be version 4.1.06 and Janitor should be version 4.1.08 BEFORE you upgrade to SLP 4.2.[/box]
What are some of the changes you might notice with SLP 4.2.03?
Thailand has been added to the list of supported default countries for the Google Maps domain.
The No Map theme has been fixed to show results below the search form. A new No Map Rev 02 version addresses further rendering issues and cleans up much of the No Map SLP Theme styling.
If you are using an add-on pack with extended data fields such as Enhanced Results featured and rank on locations or Contact Extender data fields there is a patch that fixes “carrying over previous location data” that appeared on some installations. Special characters such as apostrophe has been addressed in extended data field editing.
Charleston Software Associates has officially become a Google Enterprise customer. The new licensing agreement for Google technologies will further strengthen the Store Locator Plus, a location mapping and search plugin for WordPress, product offering in coming months. The new licensing agreement provides CSA with direct access to the Google Enterprise support team as well as access to their high throughput map services servers.
The combination of access to the Google Maps API for Business services and improved Google support will pave the way for the development of advanced add-on packs as well as general improvement of services in the base Store Locator Plus product offering. On the drawing board for the future of Store Locator Plus is improved direct access to the Google Maps API for Business for customers with their own API keys and new services from CSA for customers that cannot afford the 5-figure investment.
One of the first products that is on the schedule is higher limits and faster throughput on the Geocoding API calls. This is the service that adds the latitude and longitude to all locations entered into Store Locator Plus. Some clients are loading tens-of-thousands of locations via the CSV import feature provided by the Pro Pack. Unfortunately the standard, free, Google Maps API service only allows a maximum of 2500 requests per IP address. Since many shared hosts have thousands of sites, some of which are using Google API services, it is possible that as few as 100 locations will hit the daily geocoding limit. A new service, still in the planning stages, will allow customers to use the CSA servers to encode their locations for a nominal access fee.
General product improvements are expected as CSA takes advantage of Enterprise Support at Google while developing the new services and features. Getting an in-depth technical overview of the Google API services and the best practices for implementing various API calls will extend the feature set and improve the performance of Store Locator Plus and the associated premium add-on packs.
To the best of my knowledge, Charleston Software Associates is the first WordPress locator plugin author to obtain a Google Enterprise license. My goal is to make Store Locator Plus the first and best plugin for leveraging the new services this license will provide. The next year should be an exciting one for Charleston Software Associates and the Store Locator Plus product line.