“There has been a significant jump in the number of consumers using the Internet to find local businesses, and the regularity of their ‘searches’ has also increased. Research indicates that 82% smartphone users overwhelmingly use search engines to find local business,” – SearchEnginePeople.com
The global Internet has emerged as a force of nature in many domains of human activity. Now, more than ever, increasing numbers of citizens are using the Internet and its extensions to shop for products, compare pieces of merchandise, and find new choices online, among other activities. A notable trend manifests in the fact that customers use search engines to find local businesses that may satisfy a certain or multiple customer requirements. This is significant because such behaviour drives the volumes of online traffic, affords enhanced advertising opportunities, expands consumer awareness in local environments, and amplifies the ambit of commerce inside local communities. In addition, the trend of using online search engines to find local businesses expands the scope of consumer choice and boosts business and product discovery.
In terms of consumer choice, the modern customer is empowered by actions that involve the use of search engines to find local businesses. The growing use of smartphones and connected tablets has bolstered this trend. For instance, a group of consumers may choose to spend a certain amount of dollars in entertainment venues during a certain weekend. This activity may entail travel or may be restricted to a certain geographic area. Therefore, the consumers can exercise their choice to find local businesses on the Internet through search engine activities. Search engine results can help the consumers to view useful information such as store hours, food menus, telephone numbers, and user reviews. A mutual consensus can drive the choice of destination and the ensuing activity should bolster local economic fortunes. This example clearly illustrates the power of using search engines to find local businesses.
A significant number of local searches occur when customers or consumers need to visit a local product store or find a certain service. Recent research corroborates such findings and confirms the fact that such behaviour is a major impulse that culminates in local commercial transactions. Therefore, businesses are advised to exert care in terms of maintaining their online listings and online brand reputation. This stems from the fact that customers that want to find local businesses use the search engine listings to evaluate a variety of listed business information before they settle on a certain choice. That said, we note that businesses must periodically evaluate their online rankings in a bid to stay focussed on easy discovery by online search engines.
Research indicates that customers that find local businesses through the Internet tend to visit business premises within a finite time frame. This indicates the intent to sample a range of merchandise and transact with a local business. Therefore, local business owners must prize and value online discovery because these bear the promise of culminating in commerce. In view of the above, local business entrepreneurs and service providers must work to boost the quality of their business propositions in a bid to enhance the chances of business success. Additionally, they can choose to use search engine optimization techniques so that their business displays prominently in search engine rankings. Further, customers that use search engines to find local businesses can avail certain incentives when they visit a local shopping establishment. We must note that these actions must comprise a part of on-going marketing and business development initiatives on the part of business enterprises.
An overwhelming proportion of customers that deploy online searches to find local businesses belong to the millennial generation. We must note that this generation of shoppers is known as ‘digital natives’ owing to their propensity to conduct a majority of their activities in the online domain. This category of shoppers also tends to trust and act upon the information displayed in search engine return pages. Therefore, a business should cater to millennial sensibilities by ensuring that multiple positive reviews, user experiences, and peer recommendations display prominently in search returns. Millennial shoppers can also be encouraged to visit a business establishment through the use of digital coupons or mobile coupons. This strategy hinges on the traditional premise of offering customers a discount every time they shop at a local business. We note that digital coupons are the equivalent of traditional paper-based coupons and reside on the smartphones that represent an important aspect of the millennial lifestyle.
Online review services have proliferated through websites and mobile apps in recent times. We know that customers tend to sample online services as an extension of their pursuit to find local businesses. Popular review services aggregate feedback from thousands of customers and display the information to all online visitors. Therefore, a brand or a local business establishment should work to encourage customers and visitors to pen a positive review on these online services. These reviews are critical because they tend to influence future review readers and potential customers. In addition, reviews can heavily influence customer choice in terms of shopping and retail destinations. Therefore, brands and businesses should ensure that positive reviews cater to the commercial interests of the said entities.
Business websites represent an important presence in cyberspace and must be tweaked and optimised to suit the sensibilities of modern customers. Most modern customers that wish to find local businesses tend to use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Therefore, a competitive business establishment must optimise its website for mobile visitors and mobile business users. This action can encourage larger volumes of online traffic to a business website, resulting in a potentially higher number of transactions. An alert and responsive website is a prerequisite for successful local businesses that seek to serve customers to the best of their ability. Therefore, businesses must incorporate swift response mechanisms into said websites because online customer queries deserve a swift response at all times. These mechanisms can include chat bots, dedicated customer service personnel, and toll free telephone numbers.
Customers can tune into online search engines when they seek emergency services. This scenario is not desirable, but emergencies do happen and an online search can be the fastest route to find local businesses that can respond in an emergency. For instance, a medical services unit or a drugstore business can help customers that need emergency oxygen supplies or lifesaving medication. A high ranking on search engine return pages can help the business to respond to a health emergency. Therefore, search engine operators must allot special attention to such business enterprises and thus fulfil a no-profit social obligation. On their part, customers must seek to repose trust in online search engine results and use the information to resolve a critical situation.
In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the scenarios wherein customers use search engine services to locate local business outlets. We must note that businesses and enterprises must realise the centrality of online search engines in the world of modern commerce. They must initiate every action to ensure that customers receive all the relevant information through search engine listings. In a similar vein, search engine operators should optimise their products and services to display the most current information for the benefit of businesses and their customers. The concept of customer choice and business delivery can achieve high success when these aspects work alongside each other harmoniously.