As online search activity continues to grow in usage and intensity, new data show local searches now account for 13 percent of all core search activity on top web search portals as of January 2011. Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and local search sites also exhibited strong growth with 5.6 billion local searches in 2010, a 15 percent increase over 2009.
The State of Local Search study conducted by comScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world, and released by the Local Search Association, looks at the online local search industry and explores local business search behaviors, highlighting usage trends and profiling searchers and their engagement with search options.
The study shows significant growth in mobile local search use, which provides opportunities for local businesses to engage with potential customers via mobile. In January 2011, 77.1 million mobile subscribers accessed local content on a mobile device, up 34 percent from the previous year. Local content users accounted for 33 percent of mobile subscribers, with 87 percent owning a GPS-capable handset (up 9 percent from the previous year).
An analysis of core mobile usage behaviors showed local content dominating, as mobile subscribers increasingly turn to their mobile phones for information on maps, weather, traffic, retail and other local content.
App use for mobile local content grew 34 percent, with 56 percent of respondents using apps for local content. Browsers lead in usage of local content with 73 percent, dropping from 75 percent last year. Local content via SMS dropped to 25 percent from 30 percent.
Online daily deal offers and discounts have also emerged as an additional customer acquisition channel for local businesses. The comScore study found that primary IYP searchers were less likely to report purchasing online daily deal coupons for local businesses than business searchers on other sites (27 percent vs. 38 percent).