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Search On Smartphones Up 26 Percent, On Tablets Up 19 Percent In 2012 [Study]

local-search-mapSearch continues to shift away from the desktop toward mobile devices.

That’s one of the conclusions of the just-released Neustar Localeze/15miles/comScore Local Search Study, which is now in its sixth year. This year’s study involves a sample of more than 3,000 U.S. adults that say they use the Internet to search for local businesses. Results aren’t available online yet, but we’ll add a link here when they are.

The total number of U.S. searchers using mobile phones grew 26 percent between March 2012 and December 2012, from 90.1 million to 113.1 million searchers. Search on tablets was up 19 percent between April 2012 and December 2012. (Tablets are commonly counted as “mobile,” though I’d argue that’s often a misnomer; think of the consumer sitting in front of a TV using his/her iPad — not very mobile.)

Desktop searches, meanwhile, were down six percent between November 2011 and November 2012.

According to the study, mobile phone searchers are more likely to cite maps, driving directions and distance as key information. Searchers using tablets are more content-focused — they’re more likely to find consumer reviews and online promotions most helpful.

Local Search Statistics

Local search activity also dropped on desktops. The study says there was an 18 percent decline from 2011 to 2012. The study doesn’t specifically cite a corresponding increase in local searches on mobile devices, but it seems logical that that would be the case.

In fact, the Internet continued to slowly displace print yellow pages as a source of local business information. The study shows that just 19 percent of U.S. adults rely on yellow pages, a number that’s down from 21 percent last year and 30 percent as recently as 2008.

On the other hand, Internet yellow pages websites gained two percentage points with 17 percent now saying that’s their primary source of local business information.


In the chart above, Portal Sites include Google.com, Bing.com, Yahoo.com and others; IYP Sites include SuperPages.com, Yellowpages.com, DexKnows.com and others; and Local Search Sites include Google Local/Maps, Bing Local, Citysearch, Yelp, MapQuest and others.

According to the study, the average searcher uses 2.5 different types of sources when looking for local business information. Portal sites (Google, Bing, Yahoo) are listed as a first or secondary choice by 69 percent of U.S. adults surveyed — far ahead of IYP Sites and Local Search Sites (2nd and 3rd, respectively).


The survey was conducted between December 4th and 14th, 2012.

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