If you look at local searches as Google's smartphone lookups dominate traffic, you're not alone. But now comes a new consumer survey (n = 500 US adults) from Ignite Visibility, which presents a set of results that seem to improve conventional wisdom about local search.
Some surprising findings. Some of these seemingly opposite ones are:
59% of respondents still prefer finding local information on a desktop ("type in a computer"). White Pages was the app or website [most trusted] when it reviewed [(looking for)] local businesses, closely followed by Yahoo Local, Angie's List, and Yelp. 61% [prefer] call a company via a different form of communication and 22% [prefer] by e-mail. 81% [of respondents] do not leave the online reviews. 74% do not bother checking the Facebook page of a local company before visiting.
What is your favorite search for local businesses?
Source: Ignite Visibility (2019)
Some of these results are surprising, in particular: Nearly 60% prefer local desktop search and WhitePages.com is the most trusted source of local business information. There is probably an explanation for that, which I will explain below.
A negative review of a deal breaker. The survey found that respondents rely more on Google when searching for local businesses (70%) than on other search engines. And it turned out that reviews had a big impact on the buying decision. A negative rating would be enough to prevent them from calling a local business. In most other surveys, some critical reviews give credibility to the broader set of ratings for that company.
About 55% of respondents spent an hour or less looking at local businesses online before taking any action (ie, making a phone call). Apart from the evaluations, these respondents relied most heavily on the GMB company description, followed by high quality photos (11.8%) and high quality videos (6.9%).
Which contact method do you prefer most when contacting a local company?
Source: Ignite Visibility (2019)
Why should we care. Every day reports are published about the behavior of consumers and advertisers, most of which were created for PR purposes. This does not mean that they are invalid, but you should not rely on a single survey. We should seek consensus and consistent results.
The likely explanation for some or many of the data in the Ignite Visibility survey is the demographic and, to a lesser extent, the geographic profile of respondents. About 60% of the 500 people who completed this online survey came from the South and Midwest. More importantly, about 90% of respondents were over 55 years old, with 56% of those over 65 years old. Less than 2% of respondents were under 35 years old.
A 65-year-old prefers voice search and mobile devices much less often than the PC, and probably uses social media less often. They are also more inclined to use the phone for local business communication, compared to messaging. I am sure we could find over 65 year olds who resisted these generalizations. However, it is safe to say that there are significant differences between user behavior across generations.
About the Author
Greg Sterling is an editor for Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. Previously, he held leadership positions at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him on Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.