Search is being driven local by a growing online force. The mobile phone and its ability to provide the users location is making all the search engines pay more and more attention to location. Google has released information that 20% of online searches have a location component and this increases to 33% on mobile phones. This is very significant for local business and we believe location based online searches will continue to grow as the sophistication and spread of mobile smart phones increases. A Nielsen report in November 2010 put smartphone penetration at 28% in the US and it continues to grow. This is a savvy and affluent market segment that looks to increase it’s influence.

Mobile Benefits

A recent study by AT&T and Nielsen found some interesting data about mobile searchers, they surveyed 1500 users of smartphones, tablets and feature phones.  The AT&T study shows that 43% of local mobile-searchers “walk through the door.” Close to half of mobile searches become a potential sale at the business location. Wow that is impressive, these users are in the moment, they are out there looking and ready to buy. This is very apparent for restaurants who are listed as the biggest gainers in this mobile search arena. For any local business staying at the forefront of local online search is critical. It is interesting that AT&T did this study as they are driving toward local online search as an alternative to the failing yellow pages advertising market (Yellow Pages etc.). Their position is one of claiming to help local business. The jury is still out on whether this type of directory driven local search with it’s pervasive fee structure is beneficial. All the major search engines provide free business directory options with an optional fee structure and additional paid search options. Why pay to be on a second tier directory site when you can be on the search engine itself? Local online search is becoming increasingly relevant for any marketing plan, making sure your business is correctly positioned for your budget is critical.

How to Prepare

It is important for local business owners and executives to correctly position their business for local search. There is a rush to take advantage of the opening local search provides by bigger companies looking to charge money for positioning that is not always ideal. We recommend claiming your business listings and directory listings then take the time to optimize them. If you are short of time then at least ensure you claim and complete the big three business listings. Follow the links below to claim and complete your local business listings.

Google Places

Bing Business Portal

Yahoo Local Listings

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