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Most Internet Users Prefer Search Engines to Find Local Products

About a third say they’re trustworthy and accurate, too

April 25, 2017 | Advertising & Marketing

Need a dry cleaner, dentist or local burger joint? If you are an internet user, data shows you are likely to use a search engine to find a local business.

According to a March 2017 survey of US internet users conducted by Burke for the Local Search Association (LSA), eight out of 10 respondents said a search engine was their top choice among a collection of digital and nondigital sources to look up information for local businesses last year.

Sources that US Internet Users Have Used to Search for Local Products/Services, 2015 & 2016 (% of respondents)

Specifically, 80% said they used a search engine to find a local product or service in the week prior to the survey, and 87% used one in the past month. Respondents cited a company website as their second choice.

Printed white and yellow pages had the lowest reach in use last year.

Most sources reported year-over-year increases in use by respondents. Search engines in particular showed a gain of 2 percentage points from 2015.

Preferred Sources When Searching for Local Products/Services According to US Internet Users, 2016 (% of respondents)

The survey also found search engines lead other sources when it comes to consumer trust and accuracy. In fact, the percentage of US internet users who agreed with this sentiment increased dramatically from 2015 to 2016.

Search engines only fell short when respondents were asked about their favored source when ready to make a purchase. At this point in the purchase journey, 27% cited company websites vs. 24% for search engines.

Overall, it appears that local marketing practitioners in North America are in step with this consumer behavior. Well over half (68%) of marketing professionals in North America polled by LSA in May 2016 said search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial marketing tactic to meet local objectives.

Danielle Drolet

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