Google Top Online Source Prior to Visiting a Local Business or Restaurant
Not a surprise, but Google came out on top, with 43% of the respondents saying the check Google prior to visiting. 2nd place was yellow pages / phone directory at 30%, 3rd was the 1st link on web search results at 17%. Review sites came in at 13% and Facebook at 12%, both of which were a little shocking. Twitter only scored 2%. Important to note: 30% never checked online services.
This just shows how important it is to be featured on Google, and not even that, but have a high search ranking so you come up on the 1st link and top of the search results. Those local businesses that can carve out a strong SEO presence on their desired keywords in Google will be in good shape.
Reasons to Try Local are a Different Story
Whereas Google clearly dominated the first place to look, they were not the primary reason why a person would visit a local business or restaurant. 52% of those polled said a recommendation from a friend influenced them the most. Location of the Business was second at 10% and a deal/offer was 3rd at 8%.
Moral of the story? Local Businesses may be making a big push on online marketing channels, but word-of-mouth is still very powerful. Social Media has yet to develop fully to be the bridge that takes traditional word-of-mouth and relate that to the web, however I think as things move forward on social integration into search, this will change.