Each year, Beloit College releases The List. The List, “…provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college,” and is composed by Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. I came across The List while Stumbling the other night and decided to look up my college graduation year, 2004, to find out what cultural touchstones appeared on the 2004 list. I noticed an interesting entry at the bottom of the list: “”Spam” and “cookies” are not necessarily foods”. It got me thinking. I wonder what other internet related cultural touchstones separate my class from different classes, generations even, and how this affects my industry, Search Engine Marketing. I bet you could add “Rarely used the Yellow Pages, if at all” to The List and you wouldn’t receive many objections from the younger folks out there.
Why? By the time we needed to call on dry cleaning businesses in Austin, the internet had reached ubiquity status – why battle the phone book drawer (for whatever reason, my family put all of the phone books in one drawer which meant you had to attach a pulley system to a phone book to get it out of the drawer) when you could hop on the internet and find the answer. Well, according to a recent study by TMP Directional Marketing, not only is the class of 2004 using the internet to conduct local business information searches, but more shoppers use Search Engines than print Yellow Pages to find local business information – local search continues to grow.
TMP Directional Marketing’s Local Search Usage Study conducted by comScore revealed the first source used by shoppers to find local business information broke down as follows:
- 31% use search engines
- 30% use print Yellow Pages or White Pages
- 19% use internet Yellow Pages sites
- 11% use local search sites
Of the internet Yellow Pages sites utilized, 60% of searchers used Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com and Yahoo Yellow Pages. Google Maps, MapQuest and Yahoo! Local accounted for 40% of local search sites used for finding local business information.
Interestingly, while, “…the online channel is the primary source of local research, purchases are most often made offline. Following online local searches, consumers most often contact a business over the telephone (39%), visit the business in-person (32%) or contact the business online (12%).”
So, what does this information tell us?
- If you aren’t optimizing your local search presence, you are missing out on a lot of business
- Integrate online local search optimization with offline marketing efforts – what keywords did your customers use to find your business on the internet? Potentially incorporate that language into your offline efforts
- Similarly, track your online efforts offline – ask customers if they found your business via local search. Tracking forces you to ask yourself: what do I need to do with this data? Where can I grow or adjust my marketing efforts?
- List your business at Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, Yahoo! Yellow Pages, Google Maps, MapQuest and Yahoo! Local among other authoritative local search oriented websites
- Make sure each page of your website has a call to action such as “Call us at 1 800 NUMBER”
To paraphrase Seth Godin, the internet was not created by business people and does not exist to make you money – it’s not how does it help me? It’s, “how are people using the internet and how do I help them acheive their goals?” Increase your local search presence, and help users find your product or service.