In my first years as a marketer, I had very little idea of what local search engine optimization (SEO) was and its role in growing small businesses. After all, regular SEO strategies were enough to bring thousands of views and clicks to a website—how necessary would it be to bring in traffic specifically from local audiences? The answer is plenty. While national SEO can grant you thousands of clicks, local SEO can grant you the clicks that really matter—the ones that turn into loyal customers.
At its core, local SEO (also called “local search”) is the practice of getting your business website to rank in local search engine results so it reaches people in your local community. It involves methods like creating your Google Business Profile (GBP)—and other local listings—using keywords in your site that match local search terms, and getting mentioned by local news outlets or bloggers, among others.
However, like regular SEO, local search tactics also take careful planning and strategizing to be effective. Before implementing local SEO tactics, you’ll first need a thorough understanding of how the local search landscape works—for instance, what local search terms your local audiences are using and how they’re searching for them.
Here, we’ve compiled the most important local search statistics to help your small business get started on its local SEO strategy. You’ll find general local Google statistics, stats on how local search affects ecommerce, and more. For starters, here are some of our top picks:
And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Read on for 16 of the most important local SEO statistics to guide your small business.
General Local Search Statistics
While local search is a sub-branch of general SEO, it’s also an entire discipline on its own. This is because far from being a conventional research platform, Google (and other search engines) has grown into an all-around information resource, whether for searching the weather forecast or for finding new local businesses. This means there’s a substantial opportunity for your business to be discovered by your local community on one of these searches.
Below are some general local search statistics that show why it’s important to have a local search strategy for your small business:
1. 46% of Google searches are local
Probably one of the most important local SEO statistics that justifies it as its own practice is that 46% of all Google searches have local intent. It’s no secret that Google is the titan of online search, with an estimated 9 billion searches per day. And according to research, nearly half of those searches are for something local, e.g., local businesses or directions to a local building.
This means that with the right strategies, you have the potential to reach over 4 billion of those who use Google every day. Landing your website or Google Business Profile on top of local search results can get millions of visitors to your business, who you can turn into high-value leads and customers.
2. 40% of organic traffic for businesses with a location comes from local searches
If you have a physical storefront, optimizing for local search is invaluable to growing your business’ brand presence. This is because research has found that up to 40% of organic traffic for websites of location-based businesses comes from local searches. This includes “near me” searches (e.g., “cafes near me”) or searches that specifically mention a location (e.g., “car wash in Nashville”).
These local search statistics mean that not only is local SEO important to establishing an online presence for your business, but even organic SEO alone can bring in many visitors to your website. Being easily discoverable to people in your local area can often make all the difference in generating new customers for your business.
3. 98% of U.S. consumers search for local businesses online
Here are some other local SEO stats that illustrate how vital local search is to your business: 98% of all U.S. consumers search for local businesses online, 32% of whom do so multiple times a week. That means that nearly all of today’s consumers research local businesses first before trying them out. This includes searches for locations, products and services, menus (if applicable), or reviews—all the essential information to make a purchase decision.
4. 49% of consumers prefer buying from businesses with a local presence
Customers are shopping local now more than ever. According to research, almost half (49%) or consumers prefer buying from stores with a local presence. This encompasses both online and offline commerce. There are many reasons for this trend: shopping local is more convenient, shoppers are now more conscious of their buying habits than ever, and local businesses offer a sense of familiarity and community.
What’s clear is that creating a local presence for your business is more important than ever for your small business to grow. Many of today’s consumers are already inclined to purchase from local businesses—they only need to be able to find them in their online searches.
Local SEO Statistics for Retail & Ecommerce
Getting traffic on your website is one thing, but it’s a whole other journey to turn those visits into sales and loyal customers. To increase your website’s chances of leading customers all through the sales funnel, from visit to purchase, you’ll also need to understand how they’re using local search to do their online shopping. The local business search statistics below can give you a better idea—keep reading for stats on all things local retail and ecommerce.
5. ‘Near me’ searches for businesses increased by 17% in the past five years
While they haven’t always been on a straight line up, “near me” searches for businesses increased by 17% from 2018 to 2023, according to data from Google Trends. Searches peaked during 2020 and 2021.
If there’s anything these local marketing statistics show, it’s that the 2020 pandemic accelerated consumers’ reliance on local businesses—a trend that’s stayed consistent in recent years. States with the highest volume of these searches were Florida and South Carolina, followed by Arizona, Delaware, and Georgia. Some common search terms are “shoes near me” and “flowers near me.”
6. 80% of local searches lead to conversions
If you had any doubt about how effective investing in local SEO can be, consider this: 80% of local searches lead to conversions. Local searches tend to have higher purchase intent than regular general online searches, mostly because local searchers have a clear idea of what they want to find—they’re only looking for how to get them.
Take, for instance, the “flowers near me” search above: people using this search term already know what they need to purchase—in this case, flowers—and are only looking for the best store to purchase them. This places them near the bottom of the sales funnel, and are more likely to convert into customers. And in this instance, having your business appear in their search results, whether on the results page or map pack, puts it in the running for consideration.
7. 74% of consumers regularly use Google to find local businesses
If you have even one online hub for your business, whether your website or a listing on an online directory, you already have a good chance of being discovered by your local community. According to recent surveys, 74% of today’s consumers say they regularly use Google Search or Google Maps to find businesses in their local area.
Gone are the days when simply putting up posters and billboards was enough to bring local visitors into your business. Today’s shoppers are taking a more intentional and proactive approach by researching online first, which your business will need to be ready for.
8. 67% of people searching for retail businesses plan to purchase in the next 3 days
When it comes to local shopping, customers of retail businesses have the highest purchase intent. According to 2022 local search marketing statistics, 67% of people who searched for local retail businesses online planned to purchase within the next three days. Meanwhile, only 63% of customers in the healthcare industry said the same, along with 59% in the restaurant industry and 54% in the service industry.
Retail was also the industry with the highest same-day purchase intent, albeit at lower levels. Of all local retail customers who searched online, 26% planned to purchase within the next 24 hours. The same is true for 24% of restaurant customers, 17% of healthcare clients, and 15% for service clients.
With so many bottom-of-funnel audiences who can potentially find your business online, it’s important to provide all the information, guidance, and incentives they need to complete a purchase with your business. Some ways to do this are by creating a dedicated landing page on your website for conversions or having easily accessible calls to action (CTAs) like a phone number on your Google Business Profile.
9. 65% of local customers search for businesses’ location most frequently
Getting more traffic to your website also means understanding what your customers are searching for most often when they look for businesses. And according to recent surveys, 65% of audiences look for locations and addresses most often when searching for local businesses.
Meanwhile, other frequently searched points of information are reviews (56%), operating hours (54%), and business websites (54%). Keep these local search statistics in mind when you create your website or business listing.
Google Business Profile & Bing Places Statistics
Your Google Business Profile (GBP, previously known as “Google My Business”) is one of the most vital parts of your digital marketing. After your website, it’s the other most important facet of your online presence. However, while Google can grant you the most visibility, listing your business on other online business directories like Bing Places or the Yellow Pages can significantly boost your SEO—and most are free to set up.
Read on for local SEO statistics that show the importance of local listings in gaining more traffic and trust for your business.
10. 42% of consumers trust information on Google Business Profiles
Not only do customers consistently view businesses’ GBPs, they also expect the information on them to be accurate. Forty-two percent of customers in a recent survey said they trusted information on Google Business Profiles most to be accurate. In contrast, only 21% said they trusted information on business websites, and only 12% trusted information on Bing Places, 6% on Yelp, and 4% on Apple Maps.
The key takeaway from these Google My Business stats? Optimize and update your business information on Google and your website consistently—it’s where customers are searching for your business the most.
11. The top-ranking Google Business Profile has a nearly 18% click-through rate (CTR)
While getting your website to rank on Google search results is significant, it’s just as important to get your Google Business Profile to rank on Google’s map pack results, which is the interactive map Google shows users when they search for businesses in a certain area. According to recent studies, GBPs that rank on top of these map packs have an average CTR of 16.1%. Moreover, the top three profiles get over 31% of all clicks.
These Google Maps statistics show that it isn’t enough to simply create your Google Business Profile. You’ll also need to optimize it with the right calls to action (CTA), respond to customer reviews, and update it consistently with new information. Find out more in our guide to creating and optimizing your Google Business Profile.
12. 54% of Microsoft users use Bing for product research
While Google has the upper hand for all online searches, that doesn’t mean you should immediately cross Microsoft’s Bing off your marketing strategy. Bing is the second-most popular search engine in the U.S., and it has its own business directory: Bing Places. And, listing your business on Bing Places could be well worth your time, as 54% of Microsoft users use Bing for product research.
This means that listing your business (along with your products or services) on Bing could potentially get you an audience of over half of Microsoft’s users, who can potentially convert into high-quality leads. Learn more in our guide on how to list your business on Bing.
13. The average Bing user spends 23% more on online shopping
Not only do the majority of Microsoft users use Bing to research products, they’re also spending more, on average, when shopping online. According to internal data from Microsoft, Bing’s audience collectively spends 23% more than the average internet searcher.
A possible reason for this is that Microsoft’s audience tends to skew older, with a larger population between the ages of 35 and 44, and therefore have more buying power. In contrast, Google has a larger Gen Z and Millennial demographic, who have less.
Statistics on Reviews & Local SEO
Reviews make up a significant portion of your audiences’ local searches. This is because reviews are a growing power in today’s consumers’ purchasing decisions—they lend credibility to your business by acting as social proof, and can even encourage people to complete a purchase. Find out more about the growing power of reviews and how to best leverage them in the local SEO statistics below.
14. 98% of audiences read reviews from local businesses
Online reviews are one of the most subtle yet powerful assets to market your small business today—they’re even one of the easiest forms of user-generated content (UGC) marketing. Because reviews are authentic content from customers—not brands—they attach a sense of trust to your business, more so than traditional ads. They’re also an effective way to capture attention: studies found that 98% of customers read reviews from local businesses.
With virtually all of your potential customers reading reviews, learning how to leverage them is necessary to grow your business. And it isn’t too complicated either: start by asking customers who’ve had positive experiences with your business to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile or other listings.
And, be sure to reply to them consistently—even if you do receive negative ones. Responding to reviews shows that your business cares about providing good service to your customers.
15. Displaying reviews on your business listing can improve CTR by 35%
One of the biggest benefits of listing on online directories like Google Business or Yelp is that they’re an excellent way to collect user reviews and create an online community. Reviews humanize your business and overall make it more credible to other visitors. All this increased trust also leads to more action: according to experts, displaying reviews on your online listing can improve click rates by up to 35% more.
This data proves that reviews not only increase your business’ online visibility and search engine ranking. They also help drive real actions that eventually lead to more revenue.
16. Reviews influence purchase decisions for 63% of local customers
You already know that reviews can capture audiences’ attention and drive clicks. But they’re also helpful even at the very end of the sales funnel: according to surveys, local reviews can directly influence purchase decisions for 63% of customers.
You may even be familiar with the situation yourself, e.g., if you’ve ever held yourself back from an online purchase, only to read a positive review at checkout and proceed to purchase anyway. Reviews are powerful social proof that act as an online form of word-of-mouth marketing, and are equally as effective.
Tools for Local Search
Getting your business to rank on local search engine results can guarantee you more views, traffic, and customers from your local community. But as with any marketing strategy, it takes careful planning, research, and effort to do well. Ranking for local searches involves everything from local keyword research to backlinking and technical SEO—strategies that can take lots of time to set up and monitor.
The good news is there are many local SEO tools around that can help simplify these processes. Here are some of the best for small businesses:
The services above can be significantly helpful in bringing your local SEO strategies to fruition, all at relatively affordable, small business-friendly rates. To find out more about them—and more options—read through our guide to the best local SEO services for small businesses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Local search (also called “local SEO”) is a sub-branch of search engine optimization (SEO) that focuses on optimizing specifically for local audiences. It involves strategies like local keyword optimization, building backlinks from local media outlets, locally optimized content creation, and local influencer marketing. Local search is especially effective for location-specific businesses, as it helps grow your brand presence within your specific locality.
Local search is important because it focuses on growing your business’ presence in your local area and capturing more local customers. While “regular” national or global SEO can help grant you millions of audiences, they may not be relevant if your business only serves a particular area. This is where local search comes in: local SEO strategies are catered specifically to get your business discovered by local audiences.
To make a local search plan, first research your target audience in your local community, then identify the local SEO strategies that would best reach them. These can include setting up your Google Business Profile and other local listings, publishing locally optimized content, sending press releases to local bloggers and media, and optimizing your social media profiles for local searches. Keep track of the strategies that work and fine-tune them as your business grows.
Optimizing for local searches can bring many benefits to your small business, particularly in growing your presence locally and generating more customers from your community. Local SEO can get more visibility as well as web and foot traffic, and even generate more revenue. The local search statistics above are proof of that—use them as a guide as you craft your business’ local search strategy.