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Local Search (Digital / Print

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It wasn't all that long ago that most Americans' fingers took at least one weekly "walk" through the Yellow Pages (YP), those massive directories plunked on our doorsteps at the same time every year by the local phone company. Although many of us still receive printed books, they're mere shadows of their former selves as the search function has gone digital in a big way – and many are merely tossed into landfills, recycled, or stuck in the back of a drawer somewhere.

That's not to say that the former YP publishers have rolled over and gone away. They all boast some online presence and are now competing with online search companies for the dollars they previously enjoyed as a virtual monopoly in most markets.

Database and directory publishers generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of print advertising space. Due to changing consumer preferences, digital media has increasingly replaced print media as a source of news and entertainment. Businesses have reduced investment in print advertisements, shifting their focus to digital publication advertisements. This shift has impacted industry revenue and forced operators to increasingly publish online.

Using the internet to find 'places near me' has become increasingly popular. 

Frequency of using the internet to find a local business in the last year

  • Daily - 33%
  • Multiple times per week - 16%
  • Weekly - 11%
  • Monthly - 10%

Of the 33% of daily searchers, 51% are 18-34 years old, 46% are 35-54 and 6% are 55+

(Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey, 2019)

Millions of people have handheld devices in their possession daily and use them to search for everyday necessities and curiosities. 

A Merkle study found that mobile devices make up 58% of all organic search engine visits.

  • As of Q4 2019, Google has the highest share of organic mobile search traffic at 61%. Yahoo! had 49% and Bing, 23%.

(Source: Merkle Digital Marketing Report, Q4 2019)

Online reviews have an important addition in local search. Consumers are relying on reviews during their path to purchase.

  • 66% of online consumers use their desktops to read online reviews; 56%, mobile internet browser; 42%, tablet and 41%, mobile app. 

(Source: BrightLocal; Search Engine Land, 2019)

Actions consumers take after reading positive online reviews:

  • Visit businesses website - 32%
  • Search for more reviews to validate choice - 28%
  • Visit the business - 16%
  • Continue searching for other businesses - 12%
  • Contact the business - 11%

A survey found that 91% of A18+ agreed that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.

  • Consumers spend about 13 minutes reading reviews before deciding.

(Source: BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey, 2019)

While the Yellow Pages directories were at one time a regular source for consumers seeking information on businesses and local services, the digitally connected world has hugely expanded choices for accessing information and has taken search to mobile consumer. Consumers in cars and on the street can quickly access information through search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing -- and those are just starting points.

  • 60% of A18+ visited a search engine on their mobile device/smartphone
  • 44% of A18+ search for information about a product
  • 33% of A18+ visited a website for local information on their mobile device/smartphone
  • 47% of A18+ find local information on social media somewhat/very important
  • 34% of A18+ find it somewhat/very important to learn about products and services on social media

(Source: GfK MRI Doublebase 2019)

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