When you are looking for a local business, do you reach for the phone book or do you head to your favorite Search Engine? That is one of the topics researched by WebVisible and Neilson and blogged about by Search Engine Land.
The roughly 2,000 respondents were chosen at random and asked several questions related to local search and online advertising. The results were quite surprising to me. For example, Search Engines are the number one source for information on local businesses:
I am not sure about the age demographic of the people polled. I think the older generations probably tend to stick with the traditional methods of getting business information – primarily phone books and newspaper, but I don’t know too many young people who even look at the phone book, let alone use it to find business information if a Search Engine is available. I personally only use the phone book when 1) the Internet is not handy OR 2) when I know the business I am looking for is not going to show up on the Internet because they don’t have a web site, to which I say, “Get a web site – its almost 2008!”.
Here are some other interesting percentages:
What this information should help to reinforce is that whether you are a small business or a large corporation, you really need to have a web site AND your web site must be accessible to your potential customers, which means it must rank well in the Search Engines because that is what the majority of them are using.
This does not mean that you should completely forget about listing your business in the phone book (although we are not listed in the phone book and we have more work than we can handle) or quit advertising in the local newspaper, although we don’t do that either because newspapers, tv and radio can’t seem to tell us how many people heard or saw our ad and I don’t like gambling with my limited advertising budget. If I spend a grand on Internet advertising, I can tell how many times my ads were displayed, how many times people visited our web site through one of the ads, where the visitor is from, how long they stayed on our site, what pages they visited and lots more. Try that with the newspaper, radio or tv.