I went back and reread Rand's post. I think its helpful...but in my realm's of local search its not very helpful. Not in the sense that Rand didn't take a good hard stab at this..but it isn't reflected in how local works.
1. The thing about much of local is that the G maps visibility sucks up a lot of traffic. Currently there has been a split out between maps/the_pac visibility and organic...but there is no way to know if google will revert to meshing the two down the line. The other thing is they'll apply that map perspective to many keyword variations. To the extent that the maps/pac visibility picks up a lot of traffic the simple thing is that the page that shows in the Maps/Pac is usually always the same page.
By example for one smb I had looked at keyword traffic to the home page during 6 months before "not provided" came into being (2011). For one smb, with lot of visibility, and a lot of maps presence...the home page was the recipient of over 3,000 keyword phrases. 3K. Its hard to break down data when faced with that phenomena. Its harder w/out keyword data.
2. I've said this before. I think WMT is irrelevant for local. Besides that I just don't trust the info google sends to webmasters where you don't have a 2nd way to check its accuracy. They can create something like WMT and state assertively that these are ESTIMATES. I find that to be another way to control the flow of info that is dealt out to webmasters.
WMT is not granular down to a local region. At its most granular its national. That makes it worthless for local smbs and local search. Theoretically WMT should catch phrases that are innately local made by local residents ie Denver doctor, Dallas HVAC maintenance etc. How many people in detroit are going to search for denver doctors or Detroit hvac maintenance? Not many.
but our review of this data from wmt is dramatically off from any historical data and/or adwords data. I think its bunk crap. I look at wmt as google feeding us garbage. At least on the local basis.
3. We have used adwords extensively for years. We use it on all our accts. The adwords campaigns are pretty extensive. It turns out that ROI works for us. Besides that the information is invaluable in our experience. I love it.
It doesn't tell me though how much traffic we are getting organically. I simply am not going to know it anymore....at least not until some bigger more forceful entity is going to force google to start giving keyword data to webmasters again. They have all the information and we don't.
In our experience the best thing about adwords on a local or regional basis was the informational part. We combined adwords data on impressions and clicks with our organic traffic. If we were really ambitious we'd take the analytics data and further break it down by geography....primarily looking at the traffic that came from our region.
We would start with the impression data for the tight killer search phrases with the most intent and which drove the most traffic and highest conversion rates. Then take the clicks from adwords and the clicks from organic. Add those two together and we could see how much or what percentage of the market we were grabbing or dominating, or losing. We did that by dividing the combination of clicks from organic and ppc by the total impressions for those phrases in our region.
Absolutely great data. It drove us to improve organically on certain key phrases where we didn't have dominant serps..as we could see how great traffic and "dominance" was when we had tremendous serps visibility and/or multiple pages at the top of serps for certain phrases.
We can't do any of that anymore. How sad!!!! google stole the data. They have it and we don't. (%^(%)##@#^ F ' em.