How do customers search for local business information?

When a new customers walks through your door do you ask them how they got your details? If they say ‘online’ do you assume it was through a search on Google? If so it’s time to think again about how people found you.

IDC Research, working with Yellow Pages, completed a survey of US consumers to find out how they searched the internet for local companies. Although based on US data it is highly likely the results are comparable with the way UK people find similar information.

Local search is not just a Google search

The big finding from IDC’s study is the majority of people don’t use a general search engine when first looking for local information.

  • Only 36% of people start their local search using a search engine.
  • The rest - 64% - use an alternative online source.

The full breakdown is:

Search method Percentage
General search engine 36%
Specific vertical website on subject 15%
Read customer reviews 7%
Online directory 7%
Coupon or deals app / website 6%
Product / service reviews 5%
Mapping app 4%
Professional reviews 4%
Reservation booking app 3%

Adding more complications, most people don’t use one type of search, instead they link them through multiple searches to narrow down the hunt and select a specific business. An example given in the report is a person first using a search engine, then product reviews, and finally customer reviews.

How do I get my business in front of local searchers?

Retailers, and other local companies, need to focus not just on doing well in general search results, but also on keeping a strong presence on vertical search engines, business directories, and review sites. Exactly what your business needs to do will vary depending on your sector, however the most common platforms you’ll need to consider are:

  • FourSquare
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Facebook Pages
  • Google My Business
  • LinkedIn (especially for B2B)
  • Industry-specific directories

Also, check your business details on mapping services like Apple Maps and Google Maps (the former takes information from a variety of sources, the latter mostly links into Google My Business). Any errors on map results (for example the wrong address or opening hours) will have a clear detrimental impact on whether potential customers visit you.

Your customers are using a wide variety of platforms to find your business details. By not considering the full range you’ll will miss out new customers.

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