Part 1: How are people looking for local businesses? Will yours get found?
Harris Interactive in its new study sponsored by CityGrid Media posted some interesting statistics that are important for you, a local business owner, to know. Here’s what they discovered.
Searching for a local business at home
To no surprise, online search and review sites are where most people go to find local information – 60% of them to be exact in this study of 1000 adults – when they were at home. In the under 35 segment, this increased to 85%! Again, no surprise.
And finally, only 8% said they go to merchants’ websites first before searching. That last metric is a little confusing to me especially since most people have to search to find a website to go to, but regardless of how or why that happens, there is still a crystal clear takeaway from these metrics.
Make sure your local business is easily found in local searches, this includes Google Places, local directories like Yelp, CitySearch and others, and in organic SEO.
Searching for a local business on the road
When it came to mobile searches, according to this survey, searchers relied almost as much on review sites as they did on general search when making a decision about which business to select with 18% relying on general search and 15% on review sites.
The survey results seemed to indicate this was different than desktop searches, but because they didn’t break down the percentages in the desktop results, it’s difficult to know exactly in which way it was different. My guess is that because these searchers are on the road and need to make a decision more quickly, reliance on review sites would be more than if you were at your home computer.
That’s 33% of those surveyed. Evidently the other 67% didn’t use their phone to find a local business at all. Interesting. I believe this contradicts others studies I’ve seen. In any case, this number is on the rise.
Again you need to be visible in search and here reviews are even more important. Are you in local directories that are popular for the reviews they provide. Yelp is probably the most important. How do you look there? If your reviews would send customers away, what are you doing to rectify that? Hopefully, you’re providing great service then actively soliciting positive reviews. Yelp has their own phone app is why this is important for you, but so does Google and people there will be hitting upon Google Places. So get good reviews there as well.
Finally, make sure your website is mobile ready. While the number viewing your site on a phone is very small now, it will grow. Besides, it’s really easy to get a mobile ready site. Many templates in WordPress and Joomla, the two platforms I primarily use here at Kat & Mouse are already mobile optimized or have plugins to make it easy.
How far will they go
Finally, the survey revealed that people are only willing to drive so far to get to you. How far will they go? When it comes to trying out a new business, 80% won’t travel more than 30 miles to try someplace new, but 39% are willing to travel between 15 and 30 miles.
Don’t expect Google to rank your Google Place page high for a particular city if you are far away. Google’s trying to show people what they want, and they have plenty of data, including their own, to support the fact that most people want to find local businesses close to them.
And if yours is far away from the city center, where most of the searches are taking place, what do you do? Move your business in closer would be one suggestion. Another would be to get a virtual office there. Or you can just be content with where you are and market to those within a 30 mile radius. If you decide to stay put, don’t spend advertising dollars elsewhere. Your ads will fall on deaf ears 80% of the time.
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