Trends in online search behavior
by Laurie Sullivan, Media Post Publications
About 45% of consumers don’t have a specific business in mind when conducting a local search online. In fact, more local business searchers begin with general keyword terms in search queries. They have products and services in mind, but they are not sure where to make the purchase, according to a study released Monday from 15miles, the local, mobile and social marketing arm of TMP Directional Marketing.
On the other hand, 56% of social and 60% of mobile users are more likely to search with specific businesses in mind because they are already outside the home looking for a nearby business to fill a need. The study points to a lack of sophisticated search functions in social networks for the differences.
This year’s 15miles Fourth Annual comScore Local Search Usage Study identifies the power of local, mobile and social search among consumers. The study confirms that 70% of survey respondents view search engines, online Yellow Pages or social networks as their primary sources of local business information.
Search engine queries continued to increase at a strong rate with 9% year-over-year growth. Non-search engine queries such as Facebook and craigslist rose 22%, off a smaller base, to capture more than one-third of total query volume. This also impacts local. Of the 9% of local business searchers who use social networks, 93% said they use Facebook to find information on local business.
Most research today focuses on where searches happen, but this study looks at where sales occur. Google, Bing, Facebook and Twitter are just a sample of the major players to enhance local search features in the past year. It also examines how to make sense of consumers‘ changing behaviors across various media types, and what impact search trends have on the bottom line.
By measuring consumer behavior and the impact on decisions, the study reveals insights that are necessary to influence marketers‘ search strategies. Key factors include:
Trend 1: Online search is the preferred method for information about local businesses, with 70% of consumers citing online sites as their primary source.
Trend 2: Search engines are most popular, but they are not growing as fast as other media.
Trend 3: Local searchers are more apt to buy.
Trend 4: Businesses must develop a comprehensive search presence with essential information.
Trend 5: To develop a complete search presence, local businesses must consider every avenue.
Trend 6: Print is declining, but it still holds value for today’s consumers as a secondary source.
Trend 7: With emerging media on the rise, a diverse media mix must now include social and mobile marketing.
Consumers who use social networks and mobile smartphones are more likely to use and write reviews. More than 40% have submitted between two and five reviews in the past 30 days. In fact, 78% of social networkers — up 3% from the prior year — and 71% of mobile users — up 9% from the prior year — consider consumer ratings and reviews important in making their purchase selections.
Of those participating in the survey, 81% believe it’s important for local businesses to respond to questions and complaints on social sites; 78% want special offers, promotions and information about events; and 66% believe that company photos are important.
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