Even in a world where Google’s influence has turned the company into a verb, the number of consumers conducting online local searches is still growing. According to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey, “more people are searching for more types of businesses in 2014 versus 2013.”
As you can see from the chart above, almost all of the business verticals included in the survey grew in the past year. The most notable exception is restaurants, which saw a nearly 10% decrease in searches. BrightLocal says this is more a reflection of the respondents and isn’t any cause for alarm.
The other verticals that saw a decline from 2013 include Tradesmen and Accountant/Solicitors, however, the decline for each was negligible. On the other hand, the verticals that saw some of the most growth include Hair/Beauty Salons, Gym/Sports Clubs and Realtor/Surveyors.
Overall, the most searched for businesses fell into what BrightLocal called “lifestyle” businesses which refers to restaurants, general shops, clothes shops, hair salons, etc. These businesses are visited more regularly by more people and therefore harvest more local searches.
This trend of more searches across more verticals aligns with growing adoption and usage of digital technologies. As smartphones and tablets proliferate – particularly tablets which saw shipments increase 52% in 2013 – the Internet is becoming more accessible and, therefore, so is local search. As you can see in the graph below, the world is getting connected.
Source: KPCB estimates based on Morgan Stanley Research and ITU data.
Given the already impressive penetration of these connected devices, online “findability” is absolutely critical for any business and its importance will continue to grow as device adoption does. And this isn’t just for the up-and-coming, tech savvy consumers that are 18-24.
An Ofcom report found that the number of people over 65 using tablets jumped from 5% to 17% between 2012 and 2013. Similarly, according to a study we released this year with Thrive Analytics, older generations — including Boomers and Seniors — are embracing mobile as a local shopping companion.
Connected devices are increasing in number around the world, are being used by all age groups and are offering a plethora of ways for consumers to find, connect with and select local businesses. If nothing is certain except death and taxes, the need for businesses to get online is not far behind.