Local Search Usage Gains Slightly

    October 8, 2009

The number of U.S. searches grew 31 percent across all media platforms between June 2008 and June 2009 (21.9 billion searches in June 2009), according to a new study by TMP Directional Marketing.

Search engines continue to be the main source for local business information. Local search sites increased slightly in usage, from 11 percent in 2008 to 12 percent in 2009. Also Internet yellow page sites gained ground as primary sources of local business information, from 19 percent usage last year to 21 percent this year.

"Each media type plays an important role in the consumer purchase process. Buyers use numerous channels at different times and for different reasons," said Gregg Stewart, president of TMPDM’s full-service interactive division 15miles.

"But the growing demand for local business information across interactive search platforms, especially online and mobile, is creating additional opportunities for national advertisers to reach consumers with more relevance. In order to reach target audiences, marketers must think locally and focus their messages on local marketplaces where consumers shop."

Online search is used earlier in the purchase process than offline search. The main reason consumers search online first is to research the best brands to buy and to find businesses that offer those brands. About 39 percent of consumers conduct online research to aid in purchase selection while only 17 percent go offline to research.

Primary Source of Local Business Information

In terms of post-search activity, 83 percent of local search user contacted businesses offline with 46 percent making contact by phone and 37 percent visiting the business in person.

The most popular activity for local mobile searchers was accessing online directories (42%), followed by maps (41%), restaurant information (37%) and movies (30%).

Additional Mobile Search Findings

  • Thirty-two percent of searchers with Internet-capable cellular phones search for local business information from the mobile Internet, an 11 percent increase from 2008.
  • Of mobile searchers with Internet-ready devices, 60 percent of smartphone owners search on Internet browsers or via downloaded applications.
  • Only five percent of mobile searchers send text messages from their cellular phones to directory assistance. But overall, the number of mobile users who look up local information via SMS grew by 27 percent.