You Can’t Neglect Your Local Search Presence
The Explosion of Local Search
I was listening to a webinar last week where the speaker gave a couple of stats on local searches (searches where the querier is expecting the search result to be a nearby place) – 20% of desktop searches and a whopping 50% of mobile searches have a local intent. I did some research on the sources for these stats and they turn out to be from 2010/2011. I found a more recent stat that reinforced 50% of mobile searches have a local intent, and another one that says between 30% to 40% of all of the big G’s search queries have a local intent. More, you say? Okay, here’s another data point, this one from the Local Search Association – local search from mobile devices more than quadrupled in 2012. And in December 2012, comScore found that nearly 86 million people searched for information on local businesses via mobile, a 25% increase from only 8 months prior.
In general, smartphone owners are becoming more comfortable using location based services like local search. Pew released a report in 2013 that said nearly 3/4 U.S. adult smartphone owners get directions or other information based on their current location, which is 45% of all adults.
BIA/Kelsey (via eMarketer) projects local mobile searches will grow to over 113 billion a year by 2016.
I think it’s safe to speculate that the desktop and mobile local search numbers have grown somewhat even since these stats were provided. And, this includes just mobile browser searches. I didn’t find a lot of data on mobile app searches, but you know that’s a big number too. Quite clearly local search is big.
Local Search Drives Action
There is ample evidence that local searches is driving interaction between consumers and businesses. A study from xAd showed that 1 out of 3 smartphone users and 1 out of 4 tablet users used the device to find a business’s contact information such as a phone number, address or driving directions. 60% of consumers surveyed expect results that are found with local search to be within walking or local driving distance from their current location.
A different study from the big G says that 28% of mobile searches result in a store visit, call or purchase, and 55% of those store visits, calls or purchases happen within 1 hour of the initial mobile search. 30% of responders were more likely to visit a retailer website, 51% were more likely to make a purchase, 57% were more likely to visit a store and 39% were more likely to call a business when finding a business through a mobile local search. From Televox, 94% of smartphone owners look for local information on their phone, and 70% of local information seekers have connected with the business
Research by comScore has shown that 49% of local searches are conducted without a specific business in mind, and 61% of searchers consider local results to be more relevant than standard search results.
An interesting thing about these local queries is that relatively few of them use zip codes, city names, state names or place names in the search query terms. The local intent is determined by what’s in the search terms. For example, search for “grocery store” in Google and you’ll probably get the search carousel at the top of the page with grocery stores that are closest to you. Of course, when you search on specialty sites like Yelp, you’ve generally already selected a location, so local intent is assumed. When you use the location services on your mobile device it’s usually easier to determine a local intent. When you use your desktop the search site uses ip address geolocation to guess your physical location and factors that into figuring out a local intent. IP geolocation isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s better than nothing.