BrightLocal has revealed insights from their new consumer review survey looking at local search. Not surprisingly, the usage of local search has increased over the past couple of years, as well as the types of businesses that people are searching for. What is surprising is how people are using local search, and it might not be what you would automatically think of.
Despite a large increase of numbers of users who are using the Internet to find local businesses when comparing numbers from 2011 to 2012, the startling fact is how small the actual usage of the Internet on a weekly or daily basis is. In fact over 30 percent of respondents stated that they have only used the Internet between two and five times in the previous 12 months to find a local business.
Even when compared to the 15 percent who use the Internet on a weekly basis to find local business and the 7 percent who use it on a daily basis, it is still pretty surprising about the lack of Internet adoption by those trying to find local businesses in a day and age when many local businesses are dropping Yellow Pages and newspaper advertisements.
What are people using local search for?
Restaurants and cafés are far in the lead, with nearly 70 percent of respondents stating that they have used the Internet to find a restaurant or café in the last 12 months. General shops, hotels/B&B/Guest Houses, clothing shops, and doctors/dentist were all in the top five.
Consumers seem to be taking online customer reviews into consideration when searching for local businesses, with 85 percent of consumers saying they do read online reviews for local businesses and more than 60 percent reading reviews for restaurants and cafés.
What is good news for local businesses is the fact that not many people are just reading the first review for a local business. More than 60 percent read between two and six online reviews before they form an opinion on the business.
But despite the prevalence of local business marketing, people are far more likely to recommend a business through word-of-mouth rather than online. But what is interesting is it has declined over the last year, with about 75 percent recommending a local business through word-of-mouth in 2012 and down to about 72 percent in 2013.
Of the online recommendations, Facebook was the clear winner. Slightly more than 35 percent recommended a local business on Facebook, which is an increase from 31 percent in 2012. Google+ and Twitter are both slightly under 15 percent with Twitter gaining much more ground over the past year.