Posted on April 16, 2014

Why You Need To Stop Neglecting Local Search

The definitive local search study was released recently, (the details of who conducted and commissioned the study are below) and while I will go over the details in, well, detail, one thing is perfectly clear – mobile devices are the rising star in local search. In fact, the study found that “the number one activity on mobile devices is search.” Let’s repeat that again for emphasis – “the number one activity on mobile devices is search.”

Mobile search has grown substantially in the past few years and continues to bloom. 86 million searchers are accessing local business information on their mobile phone, which is a 63% increase since 2010. More specifically, the total number of U.S. searchers on mobile phones grew steadily last year, from 90.1 million mobile phone visitors to search/navigation sites or apps in March to 113.1 million in December, a 26% increase. That’s a 26% increase in just ten months.

What does this mean if you are a brick and mortar business attempting to entice prospective clients to check you out, or even better, find you and pay your business an in-person visit? The bottom line is if you do not have a solid presence online, you are losing these prospects.

Here are some fun facts for you to help illuminate the point:

  • Four out of five searches via mobile devices lead to a purchase – often within a few hours.
  • Mobile phone searches have the highest conversion rate – close to 80% of mobile phone searches end in a purchase.
  • Nearly three out of four mobile phone searches that converted brought the customer into a brick and mortar store.

Does this mean that you need a mobile site yesterday? No, but it wouldn’t hurt. A better idea might be to re-do your website and make it responsive, but even that isn’t 100% necessary – strongly encouraged, but not necessary. Mobile searchers are getting quick “hit and quit” information. Where are you at? How do I get there from here? When are you open? What are other people saying about you? All of this information, with the occasional exception of reviews, can be found through independent profiles tied to maps of the big search engines, and in the basic profile information of third party citation/review sites. These independent profiles are already mobile and tablet friendly.

The study also found that there is not one definitive source of information when it comes to online searching. Online searchers are using a wider variety of online sources to perform their searchers. “39% of people cite Local Search Sites as their primary or secondary source for local business information. Local business searchers are using a greater variety of secondary online sources including Portland Sites (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp), IYP Sites (Internet Yellow Pages), Local Search Sites, Social Networking Sites, and Consumer Review/Rating Sites. The average searcher uses 2.5 different types of sources.”

Now here’s the part that is rather specific to the medical field – “5% of online searchers are looking for a doctor” with 75% of these searchers looking for a specific name or brand.

“There are significant differences in search methodology based on category. Pharmacies, doctors, and banking/financial services are the most likely to have searchers looking for a specific business.” These search subjects…are more likely to have searchers who are dissatisfied or do not make a purchase as a result of their search.

This means that the research has been done at home, and to a growing degree, on tablets. These searchers have most likely visited your website, looked at your online reputation via the various review sites that are out there and you’ve passed all of their tests. They are interested in you and now they are looking for you. The question is will they find you? Without a strong local search presence online, including a robust locations page on your website, fully optimized profiles in Google, Bing and Yahoo, and unified third party sites referring them back to your brand, the answer is quite easily no.