Years ago, business owners focused on a few select channels to communicate to their customers. Spreading the word about their products, services, hours of operation and contact details, including their name, address and phone number (NAP), was based on word-of-mouth, their physical storefront and likely local print advertising, often a Yellow Pages ad. Now, business owners have a wider variety of options for promoting their business. However, so many options can create additional challenges and likely misrepresentationsif a business does not manage their online identity properly.
Online Local Search
Today, a business’ online local search information is critical, as consumers search forlocal business details on search engines, social sites, mobile apps and directories. While itis important that business listings are found in search results, it is even more imperative for their NAP to be consistent and accurate so it can permeate the local search ecosystem. Otherwise, consumers will not be able to connect and find the details they need when they want to visit a local restaurant or need a car repair and so on.
Local search listings have long been the most important search result, as consumers see them as the most-trustworthy results.In fact they are the search result with the least advertising bias and consumers are taking notice. The recent Localeze-15miles Local Search Usage Study showed that 61 percent of online searchers consider local search results to be the most relevant of all search results. This is in comparison to paid and/or sponsored search results. Businesses need to ensure their local search results, or NAP, is up-to-date, consistent and acomplete representation of their offerings since they are the go-to result for local searchers. To achieve maximum online exposure,business owners must submit and manage their online local listings to business listings managers, search engines and other local sites. They can do this one by one on multiple search platforms themselves or they can work with a firm that can handle it for them.
Local-mobile search is on the rise as consumers are so often looking for local results on their devices via mobile browsers and apps. The growth of the mobile market has actually propelled the local search industry forward. Consumer demand is forcing the industry to make technology better, offer more location-based features and optimize search results for mobile devices so users can quickly find and navigate local information on their phones or tablets.
Nowbusinesses need to solidify their presence across mobile apps beginning with their local business listings. The Localeze-15miles Local Search Usage Study demonstrated that the explosion of tablets and mobile devices is shaping buying behaviors. In fact, 64 percent of tablet users indicate at least weekly local searches on their tablet device and 61 percent of smartphone users conduct local searches from their devicesweekly.
Not only is searching activity high on tablets, purchasing habits are accelerating as 86 percent of tablet users made a purchase from their most recent tablet local search. And when it comes specifically to mobile apps,49 percentof mobile and tablet users utilize apps for local business searches. These percentages will increase as smartphone adoptiongrows, more local-mobile apps hit the market andbusinesses optimize their presence via local, mobile and social platforms.
Today, people collect information about local businesses through their social graph, including their Facebook, Twitter and Google+ connections as well asthose they follow on Pinterest, Foodspotting, Instagram and other social apps.Consumers are learning more about merchants from their friends but they are also conducting local searches within social apps or looking for a business’ social presence more often before they make a purchase. Further proving this point, the recent Local Search Usage Study showed a 67 percent increase in social network local business search usage from 2010 to 2011.
What does this mean for businesses? Their core business listing needs to be correct in the local ecosystem as those NAP details cross into social territory. Online business listings serve as a digital anchor within social search, tethering Facebook check-ins, Yelp reviews, YouTube videos and moreto a business.So it is important that businesses make sure their core local search business listing is correct, so that customers can consume all content available about them online and also contribute to their brand equity through ratings and recommendations.
Local is Social is Mobile
With rapidly evolving technology, it is clear that local is mobile is social today.Although businesses have more on their plates when it comes to communicating their brand and offerings, if managed correctly they can successfully promote their offerings to customers. The key starting point is to ensure their online business listingsare correct and continually managed and include the details necessary for a customer to connect, whether from home, on the go or via a social channel.