SMB Online Visibility In 2nd Tier Cities

A lot of statistical data and analysis is published about SMB online activity in the top US markets, often leaving out many of the tier two cities. In this post, I will share some data on the online visibility of local businesses in Columbus, Ohio. With a population of some 750K, Columbus and its surrounding area are home to over 80K small to  medium businesses.

As it turns out, many Columbus business owners are active online, building websites, updating their listings and advertising their business on various sites. The following chart shows the percentage of Columbus SMBs who have a visible website, who have claimed their local listing, and who advertise online. The data is based on Palore’s coverage of the leading search engines, yellow pages sites and local search sites (excluding PPC ads on search engines that are difficult to track).

Online activity of Columbus SMBs

As always, it is important not to bundle all local businesses into one group, as different verticals often behave differently online. The chart below shows the same data for Columbus plumbers.

Online activity of Columbus plumbers

Interestingly, plumbers are twice as active as the average Columbus SMB when it comes to online advertising. However, they are almost half as active when it comes to publishing a website and claiming their business listing. This data is consistent with what we see in other major cities where different verticals exhibit different levels of online activity.

While this does not introduce significantly new or contradictory findings, it merely sheds some light on a tier two market that exhibits similar characteristics to those of larger markets.

Start-ups and large media companies alike tend to focus on large and prominent cities when launching new Internet services. Therefore, your typical coffee shop in San Francisco is bombarded with offers from Internet companies, offering innovative services from online table reservations and virtual coupons to sundry online advertising options.

As it turns out, your average café on Columbus’s High St. may not boast an active Twitter account, but its owner probably has some online activity and is probably more available to hear about new ways to promote his business online.

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

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Small Is Beautiful


About The Author: is CEO at Palore, a provider of local businesses' advertising data and information on their online activity. He also blogs at The Palore Blog. This column is researched and written by the marketing department at Palore, which is led by Hanan.

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