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Why You Need to Think Really, Really Local When It Comes to Local Search Marketing

Using local search to market your business is a no-brainer for any small business owner who relies on a local clientele physically coming into a store, office or restaurant. But are you thinking local enough? Maybe not: A recent study found the average consumer is only willing to drive a maximum of 17 minutes to reach a local business.

The poll of 800 shoppers asked how far people would travel to visit locations such as a gym, hairdresser, realtor, mechanic, clothing store, bar, restaurant, accountant, doctor and wedding shop. The findings:

Consumers are more willing to travel further if your business provides a specialized or essential service. For example, since weddings are typically a “once-in-a-lifetime” type of event, customers were willing to drive up to an average of 23 minutes to get to a wedding-related business such as a wedding planner or photographer. The same holds true for dentists, doctors, accountants and and realtors, where customers may be very loyal to a certain specialty provider, consider their service essential, and therefore be willing to drive a longer distance to visit him or her.

However, for businesses with more competition and that are less essential or specialized, such as bars and restaurants, yoga studios or gyms, hair salons or retail stores, consumers were only willing to drive an average of 12 to 17 minutes.

In general, consumers’ age and gender didn’t influence how far they were willing to drive. However, there were a few categories in which gender had an effect. Women would travel on average:

  • 5 minutes longer to visit a local wedding shop
  • 4 minutes longer to visit a local clothes shop
  • 5 minutes longer to visit a local hair / beauty salon
  • 3 minutes longer to visit a local yoga class / alternative therapies

The study concluded that it is harder for non-essential or non-specialty businesses to capture a clientele outside of their local area.

What do the results mean to you? If your business falls into one of the categories where consumers are unwilling to drive more than 17 minutes, re-examine your SEO, pay-per-click and local search strategies. Assess what keywords you are using in your advertisements and on your website. Maybe you need to drill down more specifically to include certain neighborhoods in your keywords and remove others. Or perhaps your ads should be served up only to users in certain area codes.


Photo by Ján Jakub Naništa on Unsplash