According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project (produced with help from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation), there is not really a one-stop shop when it comes to American adults doing information gathering. Yes, the internet is a place where people can get most of their information, but this survey finds that this doesn’t mean that this is quite what Americans do in practice. However, the information does reveal that, in the future, this may be the case, as the younger demographic in America doesn’t follow exactly the same pattern as the older demographic.
(Please note: this information is the property of the Pew Research Center. I’m using it solely to report and comment on it.)
Some of the important findings by the Pew Research Center lead to the conclusion that, “Overall, the picture revealed by the data is that of a richer and more nuanced ecosystem of community news and information than researchers have previously identified.” Here are some of the notable facts:
Most Americans often turn to both new (like the internet) and traditional (television, radio and newspaper) sources for information-gathering. However, nearly 70% of Americans said that if their local newspapers disappeared, there would be no significant impact on their ability to keep up with local and community news. This fact doesn’t stop people from actually reading the paper, though: “Newspapers (both the print and online versions, though primarily print) rank first or tie for first as the source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 different kinds of local information asked about—more topics than any other media source. But most of these topics—many of which relate to civic affairs such as government—taxes, etc., are ones followed by fewer Americans on a regular basis.”
Many Americans tune into local news sources, seeking out traffic information, weather information, and breaking news. TV is the place to find more popular topics, where newspapers are the places to keep up with civic issues. Both, however, are likely to experience trouble in the future – younger adults use the internet more, and do things like watch the local news on television less. Further, Pew points out:
“The survey also sheds light on the emerging role of the internet as people seek local news and information. The internet is defined here as web-only online destinations. For adults generally, the internet is a main source for information about restaurants and other local businesses, and it is tied with newspapers as a top source for material about housing, jobs and schools—all areas that place a special value on consumer input. Yet when one looks at the 79% of Americans who are online, the internet is the first or second most relied-upon source for 15 of the 16 local topics examined. For adults under 40, the web is first for 11 of the top 16 topics—and a close second on four others.”
The internet is close to dominating the information space now – and will only continue to do so as the younger generations age. However, as it stands now, more than 60% of adults in America check at least three different sources, of different types, for local news and info every week. Further, 15% of people rely on at least six different media sources per week. Here’s information directly from Pew about exactly what is being searched, and where:
Check out the chart, compiled by Pew, revealing who uses what, and for what type of information gathering. Internet use seemingly centered on finding things – from local businesses, to schools, and more – (no surprise there) and is proof that SEO is as important as it ever was. It’s still a competitive landscape on the internet, where businesses need to be found more easily and quickly than their competitors.
Local Becomes Paramount
So, with this data in mind, we can recognize that not only is local SEO important now – it will likely become more so as time goes on and the younger demographic transitions into the later years of adulthood.
When I clicked on this chart revealing the data for “Local Businesses,” you can see what it showed: the internet wins out as the number one way, among these mediums at least, that people find local businesses. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to recognize that local search engine optimization is incredibly important.
Tips for Local Search Engine Optimization
So, local SEO is going to become a paramount concern for businesses looking to cash in on the nearly 80% of adults in America who are internet users. And what is local SEO centered on? Google Places and, increasingly, Bing Local. So, with that in mind, here are some tips for properly setting up and optimizing your Google Places listing!
Log into Google Places and Bing Local and go through the steps for verification. Then, wait for your verification phone call/post card. From there, you’re ready to start getting the most out of your search engine places listings.
Create a profile on both listings and make sure your address and phone number match what’s on your website. Along those lines, your address and phone number should be prominently displayed on your website and easy to find.
Try to get customers/clients to review your company. This can be as easy as sending them follow up emails asking for reviews once you have completed your services. You could also create incentives – “review us and enter to win something awesome!” Google wants to see that your company is useful and helpful to internet users, so the more reviews your company has, the higher up your business’s Google Places listing will (hopefully) rank. Even if your business does get bad reviews – the good reviews you have incentivized can likely outweigh the bad.
Try to get local businesses to link to you. Further, a little local press can go a long way – write guest blog posts, reach out to local news sources, and perhaps participate in a community wide event. All of this will show Google that you are tied to the community and are an important resource in your niche.
Don’t forget to create a profile in Bing Local. With its small but mighty share of the search market, Bing will likely become even more popular and important to SEO.
Make sure you also have a presence elsewhere – like on other business listing sites. For instance, many people will turn to Yelp to read reviews of local places (especially restaurants) before they will even think about looking on Google Places listings to read reviews (in fact, it’s only recently that Yelp reviews were removed from Places and replaced with a Google clone).
Looking to learn more about Google Places optimization? Or about SEO in general? Revisit our blog for regular updates about any current events in the interactive marketing space and for free tips for top-ranking for competitive keywords. Have questions that are more specifically related to your company’s SEO efforts? Give us a call at 770-481-1766.