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Local Businesses and Search: The Perfect Match?

When it comes to social media, many businesses value its power regarding “word-of-mouth” marketing. Further, local businesses often find themselves populating the social platforms in an effort to be more easily found by potential customers. And, with Facebook’s timeline redesign being applied to everyone very soon, social media is, of course, consistently creating buzz in the interactive marketing world. So, with all this in mind, you would think that social media platforms would, therefore, be the top sources for local business referrals. However, you’d be wrong.


Local Business Education

Search Engines: Top Local Business Information Sources

Good news for SEO companies and their local clients! Despite the overwhelming popularity of social networking platforms, search still dominates when it comes to local business. Though the internet as a whole is top source of information about local businesses like restaurants, bars and stores (newspapers – both print and on the web- come in second), a new survey that came out yesterday from the Pew Internet and American Life Project reveals that search engines are the information sources people use most when it comes to vetting local businesses. Even more surprising, it seems that word-of-mouth is also a large source of local business information (23% of adults who look for information about local businesses rely on it, in fact) among non-internet users (wait –those still exist?!).


The Details of the Survey

All data discussed here is the property of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. This particular survey was conducted in January of 2011 among 1,087 adults on landlines or cell phones and in both English and Spanish.

Eaters, Drinkers and Night Owls

According to Pew, 55% of adults gather information and news about local businesses – like restaurants, bars and clubs – and, among that demographic:

38% of the 51% of adults who use the internet for this information rely on search engines.

17% turn to “specialty” websites.

Only 3% turn to social media platforms (how surprising is that? The prevailing theory has been that people will be more likely to use social networks to find local businesses that have been recommended by friends).

23% of these users rely on the recommendations they get in daily life (word-of-mouth), while 8% turn to local TV and/or websites.

Shoppers and Others

Among the 60% of adults who look for information about local businesses that are not restaurants and/or bars, 47% admit to relying the most on information sources on the internet, including:

Social Media – 1% of information gatherers rely on social platforms. It’s interesting that more people look for bars, clubs and restaurants on social media than they do for other types of local businesses. Could this be because of the younger generation  – generally being those who would be more likely to frequent clubs and more likely to rely on social media. Probably, as Pew explains that “the 55% of adults who get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs are more likely to be women, young adults, urban and technology adaptors.

Search Engines – 36% of people looking for these types of local businesses turn to Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines.

“Specialty” Websites – 16% use specialty websites when seeking local information.

While 30% rely on newspapers (2% of that group use newspaper websites), 22% are more taken to acting on the recommendations of their family and friends (word-of-mouth). Another 8% get information from local TV, and 5% from local radio.


Implications of This Data

What does this information tell you? We want to know your thoughts – let us know what you think in the comments!

For me, this information is huge for Google. Though people don’t seem to be turning to social networks as much for recommendations from friends, the whole theory of word-of-mouth marketing is built upon the foundational theory that someone is more likely to do business at a locale that is recommended by friends or acquaintances. Since word-of-mouth is something that is still a part of the lives of a high percentage of people, combining search and recommendations is important. So, having a recommendation capability integrated within search, as the Google +1 button is, provides users with the best of both worlds.


More Information

Looking to learn more about Google, SEO or social networking? Revisit our blog for daily updates about everything and anything going on in the interactive marketing space. Have questions that are more specific to your business? Give us a call at 770-481-1766.


Related Information:

Google +1 Button Changes, Twitter Redesign Up the Ante on the Web

Local SEO Tips

+1 Button Now Available on Display Ads

Why Do Small Businesses Need SEO?

Search Engine Optimization Tips

Pew Survey Underscores Importance of Location-Based Mobile Services

Local SEO is Growing, According to Recent Survey

The Day Has Finally Arrived: Plus One and Plus Merge

Google’s +1 Button Is Evolving

How will Google’s +1 affect SEO?

What is Google Plus One?