Online Media Continues to Dominate Local Search
Seventy percent of respondents to a recent survey indicated that search engines, online Yellow Pages and social networks are their primary sources of local business information, according to the Local Search Usage Study conducted by comScore on behalf of 15miles.com, the local, mobile and social marketing division of TMP Directional Marketing.
Search engine queries continued to increase at a strong rate, with 9 percent year-over-year growth. Surprisingly, non-search engine queries (Facebook, craigslist, etc.) grew 22 percent to capture more than one-third of total query volume. This is impacting local search as well. Of local business searchers who use social networks (9 percent), 93 percent said they use Facebook for finding local business details.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they're more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social network, the study found. When using social networks, consumers most frequently find local business information on a company’s brand page (56 percent), followed by recommendations from connections (55 percent).
Social network and mobile users are also more likely to read and write user reviews. Over 40 percent have submitted between two and five reviews in the past 30 days. Furthermore, of the social network users surveyed, 81 percent said they believe it's important for local businesses to respond to questions and complaints on social sites; 78 percent want special offers, promotions and information about events; and 66 percent feel that company photos are important.
In addition to social media trends, the study also highlighted major changes in consumers’ search habits on mobile phones. Of local business searchers with internet-capable phones, 39 percent have researched a local business from the mobile web. However, smartphone owners are nearly three times more likely than standard cell phone owners to conduct local searches on their devices (59 percent versus 23 percent), with 66 percent preferring to conduct those searches via mobile browsers or apps.
Of the smartphone owners that responded to the survey, 36 percent conducted more than 50 percent of their local searches on their phones. Among various local content categories, the number of people accessing restaurant information and maps on their mobile devices saw the greatest increase (more than 45 percent), followed by online movies and online directories (42 percent and 25 percent, respectively). Also, mobile users expect to find “distance to the business” and “consumer reviews” more than other searchers.
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