How People Search Locally

Local Search Stats… & SuperPages Top IYP’s in Local Search

				**October 11th, 2006 by [Greg Sterling]( | [1 Comment](**

				 						** & SuperPages Top IYP’s in Local Search** and SuperPages put out dueling press releases yesterday about their success and innovations. Here’s’s release and Here’s SuperPages‘.
Here’s comScore’s recent breakdown of IYP marketshare:
Total Yellow Pages Searches 100.0%
Yahoo! Sites — 23.9%
Verizon SuperPages — 20.1%
Google Sites –12.5% –12.0%
Time Warner Network –7.7% –5.9%
InfoSpace Network –5.1% –4.1%
Hitwise or Nielsen might have different numbers.

comScore says that a little more than 1/3 of the “local search” volume is coming through IYP sites, which are traditionally stronger leads, than the 2/3 coming via the major search engines.

Perhaps more interesting is that there’s apparently substantial overlap in the audiences doing searches on Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Ask and those using IYP sites. comScore says that, overall, 63% of the US web searching population conducted a local search in July (or 105 million users). That’s a combined audience of IYP and search engine users looking for local information, using comScore’s definition of “local search.” comScore also reported that there were about 68 million IYP users in July but that of those only 13 million were not also using search engines for local searches. (There’s a research question here about why and when users differentiate).
comScore also said that the IYP user base was growing at rates that were outpacing the overall search market (46% vs. 21%).

Local search is being used as a directory-assistance substitute by 52% of users, who are looking for a business phone number or address. But the largest category of usage in Q2 (59%) was for attractions and entertainment (restaurants, bars, theaters, etc.). Another large category was for services at 41% of users, according to comScore.

Consistent with other data, the majority of local search users either contacted a local merchant or paid a visit to that local business “offline.” But 37% did make an online contact (email or visited a site).

Here’s my earlier post on a broader perspective on local search.

Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.


**1 response so far ↓**
  • 		 			 				**[Jim Hobson]( ** 				on [Oct 12, 2006 at 1:08 am]( 			
    	 				Moving past bragging rights and focusing on the Customer it is important to move up one level and look at ComScores July 2006 Local Search analysis. The results show that Local Search is dominated by the major Search Engines (see the actual press release at []( ). This report places IYP in a proper perspective for business owners making decisions on how to invest their advertising budgets. Online marketers need to consider the usage numbers and apply intuitive assessments of user behavior to determine the best investment for their advertising dollars. While IYP can be a worthwhile part of an SEM program the value of website optimization (SEO) is far greater.

Internet users generally want to grab information quickly therefore it is often easier to “Google It” than to drill down through IYP style heading searches. While overlap does deliver pass-through traffic to IYP’s SEO’s website ranking benefit end the search process without need to move to an IYP. This is especially true if a user is conducting a specific name search. If a user has a need without a specific provider in mind IYP can deliver “filtered results” (no articles, press releases, etc.) just providers. Theoretically this makes it easier to see a list of qualified providers however relevancy of results and user friendliness remain critical success factors.

We visited, searched for Accountants/Dawsonville, GA and the results returned nearly 600 listings, primarily in distant Atlanta, with virtually no manner to easily geographically isolate the desired target - thus the search ended in frustration and without benefit for the Dawsonville, GA accountant.

We visited, used the same search criteria and received exactly what was requested. This user friendliness could be why has almost twice the market share of

  • We then visited Google, used the same search string and the top results were and links which open to the desired results. This overlap usage surely contributes significantly to the success of IYP, especially Again though, through SEO your business can be found quickly and without the need to move on to IYP. Reviews of our client’s log files show that the overwhelming majority of their website hits originate with Search Engines not IYP. Providing the “fewest clicks to gratification” is the key.

  • The subjective assumptions are that IYP user friendliness drives higher usage thus any IYP investment may be better spent with yet with over 80% of Local Searches coming through Search Engines, optimization (SEO) is the best investment to consistently position your business in front of the largest percentage of Internet shoppers. Additionally the same SEO investment makes your business competitive at the highest levels of Internet searches.
    Another note is that we see younger online users feeling more connected to Search Engines than to “Yellow Pages”. This is a critical consideration in developing long term Internet marketing strategies.
    Our conclusions are that IYP, if well planned, can be an effective part of your SEM program although IYP is NOT good for every business. In the cases of overlap the path is users moving through Search Engines to visit IYP sites. If a marketer optimizes their website and has strong ranking they can grab a prospect before they are lost in the money driven positioning of IYP.

  • So from a marketer’s perspective I say put yourself in the user’s seat and consider their behaviors. Having a listing with an IYP keeps you in the data pool however investing in your website’s optimization (SEO) should yield optimum results for your business for searches at any level. An Internet marketing strategy should not ignore IYP (for some it is a great channel) however the preferred choice is making the investment into SEO and consistently reaching the largest market share early in the search process. IYP, regardless of overall market share, can be cost prohibitive and non-productive for many businesses. If over 50% of Local Search is “directory assistance” then the ROI potential of IYP becomes quite a concern for a budget minded business and the argument for SEO is further strengthened.