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Local Search – Analysis of how consumers find what they need

local search marketingFor consumers, local search is a near-daily ritual – 4 in 10 individuals use local search once a day, while two-thirds use local search at least 3-4 times per week. – Findings from a recent YP study

Local Search is, well, many things. But if you’re a local business, I would define local search as “Anyone trying to find a local service provider (YOU) within a specific geographic location online or on a mobile device.”

The person doing the searching may have different intentions, but ultimately they know what they want and they’re looking to fulfill their needs locally using a search engine or app. The search could take place on a computer, tablet device and of course “on the go” on a smartphone.

If you don’t have a strategy to position your local business online, consider that local search is “an enormous market”.

As the number of handheld and tablet devices grows, the intentions of consumers will certainly change and expand over time. But one thing is for certain, the growth of these devices makes it much easier to search anytime, anywhere and get data back from a massive array of sources. Making sure your business is there when people search is going to be key.

Sidenote: Consumers that own a smartphone and tablet are 40% more likely to search locally than those without. Sidenote #2Forrester estimates that tablet sales will “eclipse” laptop sales by 2015.

So we know that being found is the first big hurdle, but the big question for local businesses is how do consumers really use local search?

Here are some key takeaways that I thought were highly relevant and important for local business owners to consider. You can download a full report provided by YP.com here.

  • To confirm, local search is a useful tool for consumers for most, if not all, of the products and services they buy. Local search is increasingly an indispensable resource for consumers.
  • Not everyone finds their information on Google or other search engines. There are potentially hundreds of websites, apps, portals and directories that consumers use to find local business information.
  • While most shopping is done near home or work, consumers often travel
    beyond their usual boundaries, sometimes considerably further.
how-far-consumers-travel-for-service

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  • There are many reasons that compel consumers to travel distances. Consumers’ definitions of “local” vary by type of product and service.

reasons-local-searchers-travel

  • In virtually every product/service category, local search represents an
    essential tool for businesses, not just to attract new customers but also to
    serve existing customers.

local-search-by-product-category

  • Given consumers’ extensive reliance on local search, businesses must continually review and tweak their “presence” on local search platforms. Confirming that search results satisfy searchers’ needs and position the business effectively is vital.
  • Searchers use a wide variety of services and websites including various search engines, local search sites, portals, directories, social media and review sites.
local-search-sites

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  • Social networking is an integral part of consumers’ lives. In the YP survey, 6 out of 10 visit a social networking site at least daily, and 1 in 3 visit multiple times a day.
  • 7 out of 10 smartphone owners use location-aware mobile apps.
  • Providing unstructured data (such as menus, reviews, etc.) is important to consumers.
  • Of those who own a smartphone, 9 out of 10 have used a mobile shopping
    app in the last 30 days.
  • Nearly the same number (85%) have used their smartphone to shop at a local retail
    store.
  • Accounting for over half of local search volume, heavy users – or “Avid Users”, as we’ve called them – are a crucial segment for businesses and the industry as well as a harbinger of the future.

 

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Chris Auman is a veteran Internet marketer, website developer, and designer with over 20 years of experience in the trenches. As President and Senior Strategist at Sanctuary, Chris has successfully guided the online marketing efforts for companies large and small. Chris’ clients range from family owned & operated retail operations with a local footprint of 1-10 stores to multinational Fortune 500 companies.

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