BrightLocal Report : How Consumers Find Local Businesses
When business owners and marketers need to ensure their business information is correct and consistent for thousands of locations, they might do well to first consult the BrightLocal Local Business Discovery and Trust Report 2023 for guidance.
To Sammy Paget, Content Marketing Manager at BrightLocal, trust is at the heart of a high level of accuracy when consumers and potential clients go searching for a business and its offering.
The findings showed that the top issues that would make consumers lose trust in a business are negative reviews, incorrect or inconsistent physical address, incorrect or inconsistent phone number, inability to find the business’s web site, and a “low” average review rating.
BrightLocal is a local SEO platform that enables businesses and marketers to take control of their local SEO in one place to manage reputation, track local rankings, audit local SEO, and manage citations.
The company has worked with brands including Hilton, The Home Depot, Krispy Kreme, Valvoline, and Specsavers.
The report found that by measuring how consumers research and find local businesses online, companies can learn which information is most important to them.
BrightLocal surveyed a representative sample of 1,138 U.S.-based consumers to conduct the Local Business Discovery and Trust Survey in September 2023, which was distributed to an independent consumer panel via SurveyMonkey. Age group and gender breakdowns were balanced but bear in mind that SurveyMonkey’s consumer panels only consider participants who identify as male or female and therefore do not consider where participants may identify outside of binary genders. Additionally, no consumers under the age of 18 participated in this survey.
BrightLocal’s revenue model is split between subscriptions, custom plans, and one-off payments via its Citation Builder tool, which is just one offering with which the company helps local businesses rank higher in search, build their reputations, and build citations such as duplicate online formation for a business or incorrect information.
Information such as business hours, physical address, contact information, and customer reviews were among the most important information to survey respondents who were asked about the following categories: retail, food and drink, healthcare, tradespeople, automotive, entertainment, beauty and wellbeing, financial and legal services, and hotels.
Correct information for operation hours, contact details, and customer reviews mattered most in retail, food and drink, and healthcare, according to the report.
When asked which sources of business information they trust the most, Google was by far the top response, 66% of whom named the search engine, followed by 45% of respondents who said Google Maps. After those sources, respondents listed in order or importance, a company’s (36%), Facebook (32%), and Yelp (32%).
Paget said 62% of consumers indicated they would avoid using a business if they found incorrect information about it while searching online. “They view correct opening hours as the most important reputation factor, especially for retail businesses.”
The report said 23% of consumers come across fake business listings online at least once a month, which undermines trust overall. Another 28% of consumers contact businesses on social media and don’t receive a response at least once per month.
This data point should concern businesses when they consider that the report showed almost half of consumers use Facebook for local business discovery several times a month. Facebook listings become even more important because both Google and Bing serve up the platform’s reviews in search.
At the same time, the report found that Facebook and TikTok are the least trusted social media platforms among consumers, with 43% saying they either do not trust the information at all or believe it to be somewhat untrustworthy. Threads, Facebook’s answer to X (formerly known as Twitter) elicited significant consumer ambivalence, with 41% of consumers having no strong opinions about the trustworthiness of the information on the app.
As for YouTube, 42% of consumers believe that the information they see on YouTube is either somewhat or strongly trustworthy.
“The Local Business Discovery and Trust Report findings help businesses understand how and where potential customers may be searching for them,” Paget said. “The report surfaces the consequences of even the smallest inaccuracies in business information. Whether it’s an incorrect phone number or address, a broken website link, or outdated product listings, potential customers may seek out alternative businesses in their area and disregard yours because the perception of trustworthiness has been damaged.”
For brands with multiple locations, the challenge of maintaining accurate business listings and consistent review profiles becomes even greater, she added.
Ironically, BrightLocal’s own physical address (headquartered in the U.K.) nor phone number is listed on its website. Paget said that omission is deliberate because its teams are located across the globe and span various time zones.
“We predominantly have team members in the UK, Poland, Ukraine and Philippines, but also in the U.S., Cyprus, Germany, and Romania,” Paget explained. “Our U.K. office telephone number is listed on GBP, however we work on a hybrid basis, so all customer support requests, and business inquiries are managed through email or chat ticketing, and sales demos as a first point of contact.”