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Restaurants Rank Highest in Businesses Searched for Online According to Survey

The BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2014 is an annual exploration into how consumers read and use online reviews. It seeks to quantify the value that users place on the reviews they read and how this impacts their opinions and actions when seeking a local business to use. To read the complete findings click here.
Some Highlights Include:
  • 57% have searched online for a local business more than 6 times / year
  • 39% have searched online for local businesses at least 1 time per month
  • 15% have searched online for a local business almost every day
  • More people are searching for more types of businesses in 2014 vs 2013
  • Restaurant / Cafe – 58% of consumers searched for restaurants (down from 67% in 2013)
  • Hotel/B&B – 31% of consumers searched for hotels/B&Bs
  • 88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business (vs. 85% in 2013)39% read reviews on a regular basis (vs. 32% in 2013)
  • Only 12% do not read reviews (vs. 15% in 2013)
  • More consumers are reading online reviews for more types of local businesses
  • Restaurant / Cafe – 56% read online reviews for restaurants (down from 61%)
  • Hotel / B&B – 35% read online reviews for hotels (up from 27%)
  • 67% of consumers say read up to 6 reviews (vs. 77% in 2013)
  • 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews (vs. 92% in 2013)
  • 7% of consumers say they read 20+ reviews (vs. 2% in 2013)
  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more (vs. 73% in 2013)
  • 10% of consumers don’t take any notice of online reviews (vs. 12% in 2013)
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs. 79% in 2013)
  • Only 13% said they do not trust reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs. 21% in 2013)

The majority of consumers (57%) have searched online for a local business more than 6 times in the last year – that’s at least every other month. This is slightly up on 2013 – 56%. Most significantly there is a 8% jump in the number of respondents who go online to find a business multiple times each week (7% to 15%) which points to more habitual use of the internet to find a local business.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable using the internet to find businesses on both PC & mobile. There are more and better services for locating businesses which make it faster, easier & better for consumers. It’s habit forming and they start to use it with increasing regularity.

Part of this growth can be attributed to more local businesses building and improving their online presence. Local data is more abundant & increasingly accurate which delivers better experience for consumers – i.e. they have a great selection of businesses to consider with lots of information to make informed decision.

Looking at the year on year trend, more people are searching online for a wider range of business types than they were 12 months ago. Across almost all business types the number of people searching for that type of business went up. As consumers get increasingly comfortable searching for certain types of business they transfer this behavior into other areas.

Interestingly the number of people searching for Restaurant / Cafes is significantly down from 2013. However this is still the number one searched for business type and this dip may be more reflective of this year’s respondents vs 2013.

Overall the results show that lifestyle businesses attract the most searches. As these business are frequented by a huge number of people & more frequently than other businesses this isn’t surprising (more visits = more times to search) and follows the 2013 findings.

Almost 9 out of 10 consumers have looked at reviews in the last 12 months to help them make a decision on a local business. What’s more, 4 out of 10 consumers do so as a regular action.

As consumers we are growing more accustomed to consulting reviews when we purchase all types of product & service – hotels, flights, cars, restaurants, doctors, plumbers…so why not driving instructors, realtors & gyms?

So for local businesses in all sectors, this underlines the importance of reviews & the priority that business owners should put on managing their reputation and ensuring their online reviews are plentiful, positive & fresh (more on this below)
This years results show that consumers are reading more reviews than last year with 67% reading no more than 6 reviews (vs 77% in 2013). Significantly, a greater proportion of consumers are reading more than 20 reviews before they feel they can trust a local business.
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