A recent report on how users use the world wide web for local search purposes is quite revealing.
The report from the Pew Research Center is very USA centric, but considering the BCG report from the last post (see: The UK Takes an Internet Lead) this report may well prove to be conservative as far as the UK is concerned as we seem to have become heavier users of the Internet than the USA in many areas.
It almost seems counter-intuitive that a resource that contains billions of pages and is used by billions of users throughout the world has a strong relevance to products and services available to the user, literally, from around the corner.
Of course the key word in that last sentence is relevance. Relevance is the key driver in search engine thought and development. If you enter a search query into the search engine and get a bunch of results back that are irrelevant – what is the point of the search?
The more pages there are, and the more experienced that Search Engine Optimisers become, the more challenging this issue is for the search engines.
Google at least does not leave too much to chance: if you search for ‘carpentry’ sitting in Sunderland England, you will not get the same results as searching for ‘carpentry’ sitting in Seattle USA.
It should not be a surprise then to find that the Pew Research Centre report says that 47% of their respondents use the internet for local search purposes to find local businesses and that 77% of those rely on search engines to do this.
This figure rises to 55% when the information sought is about local restaurants, bars and clubs with the demographic becoming decidedly younger and more female.
Businesses Also Use Local Search
Back on the business side, 30% rely on newspapers, 22% rely on word of mouth with 8% relying on TV. The total adds up to more than 100% as some respondents picked more than one source. Nevertheless it it still shows the internet at 47% taking a lead on the back of a known developing trend.
The growing use of mobile devices makes this trend even more interesting. According to Google and Ipsos OTX MediaCT, 40% of Google mobile searches are local, and 70% of smartphone owners use their device while shopping in-store. How local is that?
A final takeaway message on this has go to be – don’t ignore this. This issue is something that every website owner needs to understand well and take full advantage of.
For more information on local search and how it applies to your business, please get in touch.