Mobile Acts As Megaphone For Review Sites, Search Engines

Megaphone-Search is directing consumers to local businesses, not their sites. Nearly two-thirds -- 59% -- of adults start researching information about a business on search engines, and less than one in 10 head to the merchant's Web site first, according to research released from CityGrid Thursday.

However, a significantly different behavior emerges when searching for information on a mobile device. Brands, and search engine optimization professionals need to understand the nuances.

Consumers tend to give as much credibility to information found on review sites as they do to search engines. When researching a business on their mobile phone, adults are nearly as likely to base their decisions on a review site as a search engine.

Consumers want to find information about product and services in the least amount of clicks, and most merchant Web sites fall short when it comes to providing information about how others view merchandise. Kara Nortman, senior vice president of publishing for CityGrid Media, said companies need to think about third-party review sites -- CityGrid, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon -- as megaphones to highlight content on Web sites. That means keeping information accurate.

On the Web, people settle in for a longer search experience to find the correct answer, and often visit several review sites, Nortman said.

"They view search engines as a valid place to find review sites and they're comfortable clicking in and clicking out of many," she said. "On mobile, you have a need and must deal with a smaller screen. Rather than go in and out of search engines, you'll likely either go to the brands you know or to a review site."

The study also finds that 17% of adults admit to basing their decision on a search engine when researching a local business or restaurant from their mobile phone, but 15% admit to considering information on review sites.

When it comes to trying a new local business, consumers prefer to stay close to home. About 39% of adults will travel between 15 and 30 miles to try a new local business. The majority of respondents said they will not travel more than 30 miles to try someplace new. This means brands need to target and retarget campaigns by geography and category.

Last Week, Citysearch released the 2011 National Consumer Spending Habits study guide. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, reveals that certain business sectors are on the rebound post-recession, with bars and clubs making the fastest comeback among consumers during the last year.

Restaurants remain the most frequented local businesses, with 80% of people admitting they go out to eat at least once every three months. Thirty-seven percent said they dine out less often now than a year ago, and only 15% said they eat out more this year than last.

The study suggests consumers 35 and younger seem to contribute most to the overall economic recovery for local businesses. More than half go to the movies at least once monthly, compared with only 30% of those 55 and older.  More than one in four, or 28%, frequent restaurants more this year than last, compared with 43% among consumers ages 18-24. Some 28% of those in the 35-and-younger age group do more than window shop, compared with 11% of adults 35 to 54.

Next story loading loading..