Optimizing for local search is crucial for small businesses. This isn’t new and is something we have reiterated time and time again. However, most statistics supporting this claim are founded on the assumption that search activity begins and ends with Google. And rightfully so, Google is the dominating channel. But how important is it to have a well-rounded local search strategy that encompasses additional outlets such as Apple Maps, Yelp, and Facebook? Are these other channels worth putting time, effort, and money into as you begin your 2020 marketing strategies?
Thankfully, Brandify decided it was time to dig into just that with a Local Search Consumer Survey that’s purpose was to shed light on the preferences and habits of U.S. consumers when searching for information about nearby businesses.
Below we highlight their findings with 13 key statistics you may find surprising.
What Search Tools are Used?
Given the option to select multiple responses, it is no surprise that most consumers listed Google Maps as a tool they use to find information about nearby businesses. However, it is interesting to note the shared popularity of other options on the list.
- 77% of consumers choose Google Maps when searching for nearby businesses.
- Facebook, Yelp, and the business’s website are used by 32% to 38% of consumers for local search.
- A significant minority of consumers, from 13% to 19%, use Google Assistant / Google Home, Instagram, Apple Maps, Waze, and in-car navigation for local search.
- A smaller minority, from 2% to 10%, use a range of other tools, including Bing, Amazon Alexa, Foursquare, and several niche and specialty sites.
Which Local Search Tool is Considered the Most Useful?
While Google Maps, again, holds the majority, you will notice a drop in the respondents that chose it as the most useful. In situations where consumers need more information about a business, they are turning to the company’s website and other sources such as Yelp, Google Assistant / Home, and Facebook.
- When given a choice, 51% of consumers name a tool other than Google Maps as the most useful for local search.
How Frequently are Consumers Conducting Local Searches?
As expected, younger consumers conduct local searches more frequently with, 90% of those aged 18-29 doing so at least once a week compared to 56% aged 60 or older. Although no matter their age, the consensus is that people are searching for local information a lot!
- 74% of consumers conduct local searches at least once a week.
What are People Searching for Locally?
When asked what businesses respondents looked up in the last month, it is fascinating to see the wide variety of categories. And some you wouldn’t typically expect are at the top of the list, such as doctors and medical facilities.
- 84% of consumers have searched online for a restaurant in the last 30 days.
- 21% for a retail store, and 33% for a doctor or medical facility.
How and Where are Consumers Searching?
As most would assume, smartphones are the primary device used when looking up local information. What is surprising is the significant number of respondents that say they conduct those searches at home and within the car coming in a distant second.
- 81% of consumers prefer to use a smartphone for local search.
- 59% of consumers conduct most local searches from home.
What is Most Important to Consumers When Searching Locally?
The most valuable takeaway from this survey is what data people care about the most when looking up information about local businesses. Based on respondents’ answers, ensuring easily visible and accurate contact information on your website and directory listings is vital to success, especially since those who are conducting local searches are highly likely to contact or visit that business, that day.
- Consumers consider hours of operation and basic contact information to be the most critical data points in listings, followed by reviews and links to the business website.
- 56% of consumers say they are likely to visit a business in person after searching.
- 54% say they are likely to visit right away or on the same day.
With this new information, it is clear consumers are utilizing a wide range of search tools when looking up information about local businesses — creating a well-rounded local search strategy that encompasses optimizing not only for Google, but other resources that are attracting significant customer attention such as Facebook, Yelp and your business website.