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5 Ways Mobile Search Has Changed the Game for Local Businesses

We have become an instant gratification society. A lot of this is due to the convenience of the internet, and how it’s accessible from anywhere, just with a simple search on our mobile devices. Even the days when we used to sit at our desktop computers, researching a local business, are passing by quickly. Right now, about 25% of internet searches are being completed on mobile devices, and that number is steadily climbing. It’s expected that in 2015, mobile device searches will overtake searches on desktop computers entirely.

For the consumer, this is great. With our mobile devices, we’re able to quickly find businesses in our communities that provide the exact services and products we want. The GPS on our phones allows us to pinpoint the location and even get directions, all in one handy device.

Local business searches are very targeted, it’s estimated that about 61% of mobile searches result in a purchase. People are clearly able to find what they’re looking for, and they’re able to find it in their community with the help of mobile search.

So what does this mean for business owners, specifically small business owners, who depend on business from their local communities?

1. Location, Location, Location

Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage ‘location, location, location?” That sentiment was used to express the belief that a business could be successful when given the right location, simply due to the fact that it was more accessible to potential customers.

With mobile search, having a great location is no longer enough. Brick and mortar stores without a strong SEO strategy are seeing their business ebb away as people turn to their mobiles to give them the address of a great Italian restaurant nearby, or a salon in their neighborhood. Customers no longer have to go out hunting for local businesses because those businesses are right at their fingertips.

2. Word of Mouth Has Evolved

Not only can these consumers get a location of a business, with certain popular applications they can also see customer reviews and recommendations. Customers no longer have to take a risk on a new business when they can simply rely on the opinions found in their local search results. That means even business owners who rely solely on the sales from a physical location need to shift their strategies to ensure they’re coming up in those searches, and that they are managing their online reputations.

3. Digital Natives Now Dominate the Market

One huge reason for this digital dependence is the emergence of Generation Y and ‘digital natives’ as part of the consumer market. There are nearly 80 million members of this generation and about 40% admit they prefer to buy from local businesses as opposed to big chain companies. At the same time, this generation was raised to rely on the internet, so much so that 72% of them have Smartphones. According to Customer Magnetism, these ‘Millennials’ touch their smartphone a staggering 43 times per day. When these individuals are looking for a local business, they’re not doing walk-ins or talking to their neighbors as was convention in the past. Instead they’re going to their Smartphones. As this generation takes up a larger portion of the pool of customers, the trend of using mobile technology to find local businesses will only increase.

4. Conversions Come Easy

Even when these local searchers don’t buy, they usually follow up with local businesses. Three out of four mobile searches trigger some kind of follow up action. Whether that action is a call to the business or making an appointment, 75% of people using mobile search and finding your business are going to reach out to you in some way. The option ‘Click to Call’ on ‘Google My Business’ generates about 30 million calls a month alone.

5. Having an Online Presence is Now Essential

This all means one thing. Small business owners are no longer immune to the need to manage their businesses online. In the past, many of these small businesses had no internet presence. About 50% of businesses didn’t even have websites. Now, those businesses are losing out on local customers. When a business fails to have a strong local web presence, potential customers are getting directed to their competitors instead.

Business owners who want to stay competitive need to shift their strategies to focus on local SEO, no matter what. Even if your business doesn’t have an online store and you have only one physical location, it’s important that the growing group of mobile users can easily find you. About 20% of Google searches are local searches and 45% of all searches are specifically goal oriented; meaning local users are ready and willing to buy. Business owners with a local SEO campaign can be sure they’re cashing in on that local mobile search business.

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post. To view the article, click here.