Local search listings now act as a business’ online anchor identity pulling in important information like website URL, reviews, photos, coupons and hours of operation. These online listings tether all critical information consumers need about a business in order to make a purchasing decision.
According to the 2012 Localeze/15miles Local Search Usage Study, conducted by comScore, 61 percent of respondents said when searching for local business information, local search results are the most relevant, while 58 percent found them to be the most trustworthy when compared to natural search results, paid search results and paid results. Business listings are often viewed as trusted search results because they represent the place where multiple biases meet to give the searcher a 360-degree view of the business.
As for the full landscape of search results – previously, national advertisers dominated paid search results, some were brick and mortar, but some were not. So, consumers searching for local business information, where geography was a critical component, were conditioned not to find value with national ads because they weren’t finding businesses at a granular level. Instead, the closest national chain would appear in results whether it was 5 or 15 miles from home, often leaving a consumer frustrated because merchants who were closer were not at the top of results.
Search is much more specific today and business listings are the go-to for providing consumers with businesses in close proximity of where they live and work. The popularity of location-based apps and social networks make it even more important for search results to produce business listings based on a searcher’s location. And these listings must be accurate (e.g., the phone number is correct, the website is listed and any relevant user reviews are connected).