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April 09, 2012

Survey: 85% of Consumers Use the Internet to Find Local Businesses

Search Engine Land’s recent Local Consumer Review Survey looked at the way consumer behavior has changed since 2010. Interestingly, one of the key findings was that most people surveyed were just as likely to turn to the internet, as they were to ask for personal recommendations about local businesses. For business owners, this is a good indication that now more than ever, it’s important to have a strong online presence. We’ve highlighted a few key takeaways from the survey below:

  • “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.” In fact, only 15% of consumers surveyed have not used the internet to find a local business in the past 12 months. This number is down from 21% in 2010.
  • The majority of consumers surveyed use online reviews to make spending decisions. 27% of consumers are regularly reading online reviews, while another 49% are occasional readers.
  • A single review isn’t likely to make or break you. In fact, 65% of consumers (vs. 58% in 2010) are reading between 2-10 reviews when researching local businesses.
  • “Appreciation and value of online reviews is growing as more consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” According to the survey, 72% of consumers give the same weight to online reviews as they do to personal recommendations.

With that in mind, are you putting your best foot forward when it comes to Yelp? The keys to a strong Yelp presence include adding great content to the “About This Business” section of your listing, and diplomatically responding to your reviewers. If you need inspiration, Pretty Parlor of Seattle, High Tech Auto Service of Santa Monica, and Tecolote Cafe of Santa Fe, are all examples of businesses that are actively taking the aforementioned steps. Beyond that, a solid rating on Yelp begins with providing great customer service in the offline world, and then allowing reviews to build organically over time. For more tips and best practices, check out the support center at http://biz.yelp.com.