Research from comScore indicates that growth in local search is outpacing overall online search. In 2008, the practice of using online search tools to find local businesses, products or services grew by 58%, reaching a total of 15.7 billion searches for the year.

While total online searches for the year reached 137 billion, the growth rate there was only 21% on a year-over-year basis. Local searches make up 12% of core searches on the top 5 online portals, comScore reports.

The study found that local search — the practice of using online search tools to find local businesses, products, or services — grew 58 percent in 2008, reaching an annual total of 15.7 billion searches. By comparison, overall U.S. Web core searches grew at a much smaller rate of 21 percent year-over-year, nearing 137 billion searches by the end of 2008. Local searches stand at 12 percent of core searches on the top 5 portals.

“As local search grows, our data becomes more valuable,” said Neg Norton, president, Yellow Pages Association. “Whatever way consumers choose to find a local business, chances are the last mile of the search was supported by Yellow Pages — whether the consumer knows it or not.”

“Even if the searcher doesn’t know the company or brand they will ultimately give their business to, the decision to actually make a purchase has often already been made,” Norton said. “That is a strong argument for local merchants to develop and maintain an online profile, if they haven’t already done so.”
Another interesting statistic is that nearly half (45%) of Internet Yellow Pages and local online directory searchers made an online purchase in the fourth quarter of 2008. If you are one of the businesses that have yet to be convinced of having an online presence, perhaps that will sway you in the right direction.