Having a powerful online presence is critical to success. The overwhelming majority of consumers turn to the Web before visiting a local business for the first time, and they are likely to compare pricing with a competitor's while in store, on their mobile device. Showing up in these queries does not happen by chance.
In addition to this, half of the consumers searching for local businesses, on a mobile device, will visit a store or venue the same day of their search.
To solidify authority in search engines, where more than half of consumers look for local services, businesses need to have a solid local SEO strategy. This requires an understanding of current consumer habits and trends in the marketplace, as well as knowing when and where the traffic is coming from.
Neustar/Localeze and comScore collaborated on an in-depth report (PDF) with key insights into these habits and trends. Keep reading for my key takeaways from their report.
What Platforms Do Consumers Use To Search?
The studies revealed search engines remain the primary source for finding local business information, accounting for about 56 percent of all searches.
Local searches using business directories, accounted for a quarter of all traffic, and the remainder of online searches for local businesses started on social networks and consumer rating and review sites.
These statistics will vary from one industry to the next, as one would expect. For example, people searching specifically for travel and accommodation may go directly to Booking.com or Tripadvisor.com, bypassing search engines altogether.
And just to show that paper is not a totally dead medium yet, consumers still searched for local business information using traditional analog sources, such as listings in the Yellow Pages (9 percent) or local newspapers and magazines (3 percent).
The Role Of Mobile In Consumer Search
The mobile revolution is definitely underway, with the majority of Internet traffic now coming from the small screen. In the US alone, three quarters of Internet users own a smartphone and although tablets have less market share, they are increasing in use.
In the case of local searches, consumers are likely to look for local shops and venues while they're at work or on the move, increasing the likelihood that they'll be using a smartphone. With more and more consumers using the small screen to find businesses, it's imperative websites are optimized for mobile. In case you forgot, mobile readiness is also a factor in Google's search algorithm.
Also, contrary to popular belief, the desktop is not going anywhere, with around half of all search queries still starting from a desktop or laptop computer.
When Do Consumers Search Most?
The report even digs in to the times of day and days of the week when people searched for local business information online. The rate was fairly consistent Mondays through Saturdays, with 67 percent to 75 percent of people searching for local businesses on these days. However, Sundays are much quieter with only 49 percent of consumers searching for local businesses on that day.
No matter the day of the week, approximately 30 percent of consumers are most active online in the afternoons, with a slightly lower percentage of activity during the mornings and early evenings. Unsurprisingly, early mornings and, to an even greater extent, nights, see the smallest amount of activity for typical search.
However, it is interesting to note, 30 percent of mobile searches for local business do actually occur during those early morning or late night time frames. Although these statistics don't have a major impact on local SEO efforts, take them into consideration for social media marketing and customer engagement schedules.
Where Are Consumers When They Search?
Whether consumers are more likely to search at home, at work, at school or on the move will vary tremendously depending on industry. Neustar and comScore found that the vast majority of local searches took place at home, with around 89 percent of desktop users searching from home compared to about 70 percent of mobile users.
But these figures might be quite different for certain industries. For example, businesses in B2B industries can expect a far greater volume of search queries from people who are at work. Similarly, consumers looking for a restaurant for the evening are much more likely to search on the move, again bringing up the importance of mobile optimization to complement local SEO efforts.
Having a better understanding of how consumers make use of search engines and how they access them, helps businesses optimize their digital marketing efforts appropriately.
It's not about trying to manipulate search engines through artificial means. Focus on delivering a valuable experience no matter how consumers choose to access the brand's or business's data, and win big in the local search arena.
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