Google remains key tool for finding info
Search is still tops for finding online businesses, but consumers are relying on real-life recommendations from their friends to actually get them in the door—not on social media.
Google is the leading place US consumers look online for information about a local business or restaurant, according to March 2011 research from local content and advertising network CityGrid Media conducted by Harris Interactive. The search engine was 13 percentage points ahead of online yellow pages, and significantly more popular than social media resources like Facebook, Twitter or review sites.
Data from local search engine optimization firm BrightLocal confirms the importance of Google to local business. The top two traffic sources to local businesses were Google Places followed by organic Google search—again, far above Facebook, which provided only 2% of visits to local business websites.
Overall, BrightLocal found that 59% of internet users search on Google at least once a month to find a good local business. This is somewhat higher than the percentage in the CityGrid survey, but a different survey population (internet users vs. all consumers) and question wording likely account for the variation.
In spite of so much reliance on online search, however, most consumers told CityGrid that the primary reason they would try a local business is based on a friend’s recommendation. Online reviews were responsible for getting just 2% of respondents in the door.
Small and local businesses may be adopting more online marketing channels, but traditional word-of-mouth is still key, and social media channels have not yet developed into a major way for consumers to find local firms.
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Check out today’s other article, “ What’s Next for LinkedIn?”