A new comScore study released by the Yellow Pages Association provides interesting insights about local search and how consumers are using it to seek products and services online.
According to the comScore study, local search grew 58 percent in 2008, significantly outpacing the 21 percent growth in overall U.S. core web searches during the same period. As local search grew, Internet Yellow Pages and local online business directories saw double-digit growth of 23 percent over 2008.
In addition, the study showed that 75 percent of the top 100 keywords searched on Internet Yellow Pages sites (IYPs) are non-branded. Nevertheless, nearly half (45 percent) of Internet Yellow Pages and local online directory searchers went on to make an online purchase in the fourth quarter of 2008.
So what does this tell us?
Lesson 1: Shoppers want convenience. It used to be that consumers would rather visit the store to “look and see” a prospective purchase in person. The growth in local search indicates that times have changed. With the limited time available to most people in today’s world, shoppers are turning to the 24-hour, anywhere, anytime convenience of the Internet for everything—even to reach out to the company next door.
Lesson 2: Local search means business. It appears that in many cases, local search is less about browsing your options, and more about closing the deal. The juxtaposition of the non-branded IYP searches and the high rate of e-commerce amongst IYP searchers tells us that even though online shoppers don’t know specifically what or where they will buy from, they are ready to buy and their local search is just a means to an end.
Lesson 3: As local search grows, so too will the demand for local business information. There continues to be a lot of discussion about which local search outlets will grow and which will wane in the evolving online environment. Clearly, all old models are going to have to adapt to stay competitive, but the increase in search and the ripple effect to IYPs indicates that as local search grows, the demand for accurate local business data will too.
Overall, these are all strong arguments for local businesses to create or enhance their online profiles if they haven’t done so already. If the hyperlocal trend continues at this rate, ignoring the internet will catch up with a business, no matter how small or what niche it occupies.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.