Data shows the average smartphone user searches for local businesses using a variety of search tools. According to survey responses, Google Maps is the preferred search tool when someone wants to seek out a local company or business. Think about the way you search for a place or business “near you”—do you just type it into Google, or do you go to Google Maps?

That’s a bit of a trick question. Did you select from that top area of Google with the listing of local restaurant, chiropractors, or whatever was just searched? The one with yes, the map — but also reviews, links to a few websites, and a button to call them? That actually is Google Maps, and it’s used more commonly than the rest of the search engine itself.

Chances are that you go to Maps because it’s more reliable to find local business information compared to a typical Google search. You probably also glance through any available reviews because they help you decide if you’re going to visit or not.

 

Consumer Surveys and Traffic Data

Surveys report that 77% of consumers use Google Maps when they search for a business near them, with Facebook and Yelp coming in at just over 30%. The data further indicates that the search traffic is driving local customer-business interaction.

You might also be surprised to learn that most people search via their smartphones—an astounding 81%, to be exact. This number has been creeping upwards for a long time, to the point where it’s hard for people to believe at first glance! It’s important to keep age demographics in mind here, though, as those in the 55-and-older age range still prefer to conduct searches on their PC.

Facebook is the second most preferred choice to search for local businesses. According to Statista, the vast majority of users on the social media platform are between the ages of 25-55. This is pertinent information because users in this age range will also be the decision makers when it comes to spending.

People generally also still search for specific business websites. A surprising 32% of people will search for a site to help them make a decision about going to that business. That should tell you your website is still critical in converting visitors into sales.

Other search tools people find helpful include Google Assistant, Google Home, Instagram, Apple Maps, and Amazon Alexa.

 

People Search from Home—And They Use Google Maps

59% of people surveyed indicated that they search from home. In many instances, it has been said that people search for things when they’re on the go, but that has proven to be mostly inaccurate.

While 24% of survey participants may search from their car, only about 17% claimed to search for business information while they are out and about, at work, or traveling. These numbers are highly informative for figuring out how to reach people.

Instead of trying to connect with someone who is at work or out running errands, it’s more likely that the customer you’re trying to reach is unwinding on the couch or relaxing in bed after a long day at work and searching from their phones. After they’ve searched for information on Google Maps, most of the people who responded to this survey said that they would be likely to visit the business in person as soon as the next day.

People want what you have to offer, but they have to find it first, so always make sure your business is showing up on Google Maps.

 

The Impact of Negative Reviews

Your presence on Google Maps goes beyond just showing you exist. People can also check your online reputation with reviews others leave behind. Reviews are incredibly influential in decision making—that is well established. 

In some situations, a single negative review could be what stops someone from contacting your business, but that does not mean you need to be concerned. As a business owner, you want to encourage positive reviews on sites like Yelp and Trustpilot. In one study, the more reviews you have about your business, as long as they aren’t overwhelmingly negative, the higher your projected revenues.

Most people will look at reviews from a majority-rules perspective. In business, we can all generally agree that not everyone is going to be happy all of the time. As long as most customers are satisfied and they leave reviews saying as much, the occasional negative review won’t have a significant impact.

What’s more important is knowing how to handle a negative review, if and when they arrive. If you do get a negative review, the same study shows that you’ll still consistently receive higher revenues if you reply to it. With that in mind, it’s worth claiming free listings on business review sites to give you added visibility. Taking the risk of a negative review isn’t much of a risk at all if you react appropriately.

 

Online Visibility, Google Maps, and Your Reputation

We can all agree that online visibility is critical. What should give you pause is the way your demographic consumes information so you can meet them where they are.

As trends in data become apparent, you should consider adjusting your existing strategies to include customer traffic data. If your local search strategy had originally been based on the idea that people are searching from somewhere other than home, it’s time to revisit your process. This could mean starting back at square one, now that you know that the person you really want to reach searches from the comfort of their own living rooms. 

Remember, even negative reviews aren’t going to be the end of your business as long as you approach them correctly. Don’t be afraid to reply to them; people appreciate that interaction. It lets them know they’re not just a number to you and that their opinions matter. This is also a great way to win over customers who are undecided while reading these reviews. Your response to a negative review can garner trust, and actually alleviate concerns from prospects!

It all comes down to which local search tool your customers are using, doesn’t it? And the data is clear: you need to be listed on Google Maps in your area, in addition to having a Facebook page and a Yelp account. If you don’t, you could be missing out on valuable customer traffic. Not to mention, you’re losing out on a place where people can leave positive reviews to entice others to check you out as well.

If you’d like to know more about how to incorporate Google Maps, Facebook, Yelp, and other search tools into your online reputation, reach out to us here at Target Points. We want to help you reach your full potential, so we’re standing by to answer your questions!