By Rieva Lesonsky
If your business relies on local customers from the neighborhood and surrounding areas, then you need to know about the importance of local search to consumers. According to a new survey by YP, local search is becoming widespread, and shifts in how consumers rely on how local search will affect businesses now and going forward.
YP discovered that local searches (that is, searching the Web for local businesses) is a way of life. In fact, four out of 10 consumers in the survey say they use local search once a day; two-thirds use it three to four times a week.
The study divided consumers into those with PCs, those with PCs and Smartphones, and those with PCs, Smartphones and Tablets. The more devices someone has, the more frequently they are to use local search. Those with PCs only average about five local searches a week. For those who also have Smartphones, the volume of local search nearly triples, to 13.5 local searches per week. Consumers who have all of the devices perform nearly 21 local searches per week.
The most frequently searched categories relevant to small business were entertainment, restaurants/dining, contractors, retail stores, automotive, professional services, personal and fitness, financial services and healthcare.
While “local” is kind of a vague term, the survey tried to pin it down a bit more and found that for most categories, most consumers actually buy from businesses that are within 15 minutes of their home or work. If you have a product or service that’s purchased less frequently (such as automotive repair or financial services), customers are more likely to be willing to drive farther, which means your “local” base might expand a bit more.
Users who use local search at least daily on a regular basis were defined as “avid” local searchers. These consumers were more likely than others to own both tablets and smartphones. They were also more likely to:
- engage in behavior such as “showrooming” (looking up information about products in a retail store on their mobile devices while in-store),
- engage in mcommerce (buying products on their mobile devices),
- use mobile shopping apps and
- click on mobile ads.
As tablet and smartphone use grow, the report predicts, regular users’ search behavior will start to resemble that of avid searchers—so catering to avid searchers now can prepare your business for the future.
Image by Flickr user zabdiel (Creative Commons)