The staggering growth in smartphone and iPad/tablet usage is changing the way consumers behave. Having these powerful devices glued to our hands 18 hours a day changes how we manage our lives, stay in touch with friends and consume media.

It also affects how we find and engage with businesses and services, and no more so than at a local level.

We (BrightLocal) conducted a survey with our consumer panel to find out just how consumers use their mobile devices  to find local businesses and what content was most important to them when using their mobile devices (we specified ‘mobile phones and tablets’).

We asked 6 questions and received 1,065 responses to the survey. The following charts and analysis represent the full findings of the survey.

Survey Questions

  1. How many times have you used your mobile / mobile device to find a local business in the last 12 months?
  2. Which types of local business have you searched for on your mobile device?
  3. Which type of mobile service do you prefer to use when looking/searching for a local business?
  4. What information is most important to you when you’re looking at a local business website on your mobile?
  5. Which of these statements about accessing local business websites from your mobile applies to you?
  6. Are you more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site?

 Survey Results

  • Only 29% of consumers regularly use mobile devices to find local businesses.

Mobile Internet usage is growing hugely; but, only 29% of consumers regularly use their phones/tablets to find local businesses.

Chart - How many times have you used your mobile / mobile device to find a local business in the last 12 months?

 

Forty percent (40%) of consumers say they have never used their phone/tablet to look for a local business.

This compares to just 15% of consumers who use desktop Internet to find a local business

However regular, repeat usage is relatively high with just 19% of consumers looking for a local business at least once per week, and 29% of them doing this once per month.

  • Pubs, Restaurants and Shops are the most commonly searched for business types on a mobile device

Chart - Local SEO - Which of these types of local business have you searched for on your mobile device?

Local consumers use their mobile devices to look for all different types of local businesses. The most popular types of business to search for on a mobile are:

  • Pub/Bar/Club — 32%
  • Restaurant/Cafe — 31%
  • General Shop — 31%
  • Clothes Shop — 26%

All these business types share some common traits:

  1. Businesses have high footfall traffic — so it’s not surprising they come out on top
  2. Consumers visit these businesses at their place of businesses — so Physical Address is key piece of data (see chart 4 below)
  3. Consumers make quick decisions about these businesses — unlike say, a Dentist or Accountant, which are more of a considered purchase
  4. Consumers visit these businesses within a short time frame of finding them on their mobile

Tip For Business Owners

It’s beneficial for owners of all types of local business to make themselves as findable as possible to mobile users. But, it’s especially important for bars, cafes, restaurants, shops, hotels and taxi firms which have the most to gain by ensuring their presence on mobile in prominent and positive.

  • 89% of consumers favor using Maps apps & Browsers over Mobile Applications

Chart - Which type of mobile service do you prefer to use when looking/searching for a local business?

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of local consumers prefer to use either a maps app or an Internet browser when looking for a local business on their mobile.

Just 11% of consumers prefer to use other applications such as Yelp, Foursquare or TripAdvisor.

The volume of App downloads hit record highs in the final week of December 2012 (1.7 billion apps downloaded in 1 week* — fuelled by consumers receiving new devices for Christmas and activating them in the week after), but the preference to use apps instead of native mapping and browsers installed in devises is still low.

Maps and browsers come pre-loaded onto devices, so they’re ubiquitous and convenient for users to use. They also benefit from familiarity as these brands (e.g., Google Maps, Safari) are household names and have huge user numbers in the PC market.

But, mobile applications shouldn’t be dismissed. User numbers for applications are lower than maps/browsers, but data shows that application users are loyal and do a lot of searches:

  • Yelp — 100,000,000 users worldwide but just used on 9.2million mobile devices.** But, 45% of all searches on Yelp are done on their mobile application.***
  • AroundMe – 6 million users (April 2012) with 27 million searches per month.****

‘Physical Address’ & ‘Driving Directions’ are most important info for mobile visitors

Chart - What information is most important to you when you're looking at a local business website on your mobile

Mobile users are very action orientated when they look for a local business on a mobile device. They quickly want to qualify whether a business meets their requirements.

They want specific information that enables them to quickly:

  1. Determine if your business does what they want — ‘List of services: 33%’
  2. Determine if they can afford your services — ‘Price List: 41%’
  3. Find out where you’re located — ‘Physical Address: 54%’
  4. Find out how to get to you — ‘Driving Directions: 48%’

Softer and less ‘action’ orientated content such as reviews, photos and welcome message are much less important.

Interestingly, only 30% of users considered ‘Contact Details’ to be an important piece of info. Maybe because mobile users are looking for a business to visit, so their address is enough for them to act upon.

Tip For Business Owners

Make life easy and quick for your mobile site visitors. Display the most important data prominently on the homepage of your mobile optimized site. You can still include richer information (reviews, photos, etc.), but put this on other pages and link to it from the homepage.

  • 43% of consumers don’t expect a local business to have a mobile optimized site

 Chart - Which of these statements about accessing local business websites from your mobile applies to you?

Consumers are split on their attitudes to whether local businesses should have a mobile optimized site.

Forty-three (43%) say they don’t expect a local business to have a mobile optimized site, while 26% also say that all local businesses should have a site which is built for mobile.

A further 26% of respondents said they are impressed when a local business has a mobile optimized site.

  • 38% are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site.

Chart - Are you more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site?

Thirty-eight (38%) of consumers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site.

That would represent a significant bump in customers for any business and would surely justify the expense and effort in building a mobile optimized website.

Key Takeaways & Analysis

Mobile users behave differently from normal PC Web users, and this can impact on how they find a local business and which local business they end up contacting/visiting. Mobile users are very action orientated and will act quickly upon the results of their searches.

All types of local business can benefit from improving their mobile presence with 38% of consumers more likely to contact a local business with a mobile optimized site.

  • Pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, shops, hotels and taxi firms have the most to gain from maximizing their mobile presence
  • Ensure that your business can be found prominently in relevant mobile search and map results
  • List your business on all leading local-social applications, e.g., Yelp, AroundMe, TripAdvisor, Foursquare
  • Optimize your website for mobile devices and display the most valuable information in your homepage

*Source: Flurry Blog

**Source: Yelp press release

***Source: Search Engine Land

****Source: AroundMe press release

 

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Local Search Column

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About The Author: is Founder & CEO of BrightLocal.com. BrightLocal provides local SEO tools for local businesses; see their research section for the latest findings about the local search market.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter



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  • Dan Leibson

    Great research, thanks for sharing. I would be really interested to see the results with the group segmented into age, as I would hypothesize that younger demographics engage in more mobile discovery AND care more about mobile optimized sites.

  • gregsterling

    This is interesting and useful data. However it’s important to understand this is just one of many such surveys about mobile user behavior. It would be a mistake to conclude from this that mobile isn’t important or you can delay in addressing it. One prediction coming out of SMX West today is that as much as 30% of query volume will be mobile by year end. And Google has said that 40% to 50% of mobile query volume has a local intent.

  • http://twitter.com/mikegracen Mike Gracen

    Great data driven article. I would have liked to see tablets and phones broken out instead of lumped together as IMO they are completely different segments.

  • Dan Leibson

    Totally agreed. How do you think it interacts with the comScore/Localeze study that shows people use apps almost as much as search for local mobile discovery?

  • gregsterling

    You have to look at studies in the aggregate because individual questions and the way they’re written can dramatically influence the responses. Localeze/comScore validates that apps are heavily used for local — Google Maps in particular

  • http://twitter.com/kevinmullaney Kevin Mullaney

    Although the data here is interesting I feel that many consumers don’t really understand the mobile search landscape and although they might not care about mobile optimisation what they don’t realise is that these sorts of factors are what matter to search engines and therefor that’s how they will find them,whether they know it or not. I feel a survey of tech savvy, power users would be more interesting and again although people don’t think they’re doing a local search that is what is being returned to them. People simply aren’t aware of this enough for the data to mean a whole lot and they are being influenced through local/mobile search practices in their daily lives more than they’d ever know!

  • goldiagodschalx77vr

    You have to look at studies in the aggregate because individual
    questions and the way they’re written can dramatically influence the
    responses. Localeze/comScore validates that apps are heavily used for
    local — Google Maps in particular

 

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