In the local digital marketing world, the behavior of searchers who are looking for a local pizza shop online is going to be pretty similar to that for a local auto repair shop isn’t it? You might think so, but in fact, the following data demonstrates that there is a significant difference in how searchers go about finding a local merchant online in different industries.
- IYP = Internet Yellow Pages sites (e.g., YellowPages.com, YellowPages.ca, etc.).
- Local = Local Search Sites. These are sites that allow customers to add reviews about local businesses. This includes sites like Google Local/Maps, Yahoo Local, MSN (now Bing) Local, CitySearch etc..
- General = General searches through internet search engines (i.e., Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.).
On the one end of the spectrum, the majority of people looking for auto services and home services (e.g., plumbing, HVAC, maid services, carpet cleaning, pest control, alarm installation, etc.) rely fairly heavily on internet yellow pages. This may be due in part to many of these types of service providers not having a well-optimized web presence (or worse, having no web presence at all!). Searchers may not expect to find what they are looking for through a general search.
It points to a significant market opportunity for these types of service providers to differentiate themselves by having a well-optimized site!
On the other end of the spectrum, most people looking for home improvement and banking & financial services go almost exclusively to general search to find what they are looking for, and few rely on IYP or local search. Again this seems consistent with the relative weight of the investment required by buyers for these types of service providers.
Searchers are looking for more information than simple contact information before making their decision.
That said, it’s fascinating to me how online consumer behaviors are so different between industries. Who would guess that searching behavior would be relatively similar between searching for a dentist and a pizza place, while being very different between searching for banking & financial services and insurance agencies?
The over-arching point here is that it is very important to understand how potential customers in your industry are searching for your business and to ensure that you can be easily found and provide the information they are looking for.
To be clear, this data should NOT be interpreted as indicating the single one channel should be utilized at the expense of the others for a given industry. Rather, it suggests the relative importance or priority that should be given to each channel, but in the end, all channels should be covered appropriately to have the greatest chance of attracting your potential customers.
Still more compelling is the fairly recent development of the major search engines, most importantly Google, that now show universal search results AND local search results AND geo-targeted paid ads and local results on the first page of results, and all without specifying a local search term. This further underscores the importance of having a strong presence on each of these channels.
How well are you covering your bases right now for your local digital marketing efforts?