Thanks to the internet, consumer behavior has dramatically shifted over the past decade - especially when it comes to searching for local businesses.
According to a recent survey by BrightLocal, 97 percent of consumers searched online for a local business in 2017, with 54 percent searching at least once per month, and 12 percent searching daily for local services, shops, and suppliers.
A key aspect of this growth in online searches for local businesses is the widespread ownership of 'smart' mobile devices like smartphones and tablets that allow users to connect to the internet anywhere, at any time. The Pew Research Center reports that 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011.
Location-Based Search Results Drive Local Traffic
Because smart mobile devices have built-in GPS trackers, Google and other search engines have adapted their algorithms to ensure that consumers who search for a business on their phone or tablet are automatically directed to verified companies that are located nearby.
If you've ever used the 'near me' feature on Google's search engine or Google Maps, you've already discovered how an online search can help drive traffic towards local businesses, and chances are good you actually visited one of the businesses you searched for - and made a purchase. According to Google, "76 percent of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 29 percent of those searches result in a purchase."
The Most Searched-For Local Businesses on Google
Consumers tend to turn to localized searches when they need a product or service right away - categories like restaurants, coffee shops, and bars rank among the top local searches, while real estate agents, contractors, and gyms are also popular.
Other businesses that benefit from local search traffic include farms, dog walkers, and food trucks, as well as daycare services, clothing retailers, lawyers, dentists, and doctors. Simply put, the same kinds of businesses that used to see significant traffic from ads in the Yellow Pages and local newspapers 25 years ago are now benefiting from location-based internet searches.
If your business caters to consumers and clients in your neighborhood, focusing your marketing efforts on local online search could provide a great return-on-investment for your company.