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Local Search is Booming (Thanks to Recommendations?)

Posted on 5.03.2009

There has been a surge of annual growth for local search, according to a study conducted by comScore released today by the Yellow Pages Association.

Local search grew 58 percent in 2008, reaching an annual total of 15.7 billion searches, the study shows. By comparison, overall U.S. Web core searches grew at a much smaller rate of 21 percent year-over-year, nearing 137 billion searches by the end of 2008. Local searches stand at 12 percent of core searches on the top 5 portals. Local is clearly becoming a focus of marketers looking to leverage every promotional opportunity available.

Some interesting statistics from the study reinforce this:

  • 75 percent of the top 100 keywords searched on Internet Yellow Pages sites were non-branded, indicating that a majority of consumers have not decided on a specific company or product brand when they begin their search.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of Internet Yellow Pages and local online directory searchers made an online purchase in the fourth quarter of 2008.

But what exactly precipitates these local searches?

A recent survey conducted by Buzfactor might provide some answers. The survey found that a recommendation has 15 times more influence on where a person shops and dines than advertising. Buzfactor also found that customers recommend their favorite local businesses as many as 27 times per year and, with recommendations likely being acted upon 71.2% of the time, each customer evangelist a business has potentially generates 19 new customers for the business. Most important, according to Buzfactor, is the edge that local businesses have over national chains. The survey showed that 86% of consumers said the businesses they most often recommend are local.

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