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It is well known that business listings on sites like Google My Business or Yelp are an important part of connecting modern consumers with local businesses in their time of need, but you might not realize just how essential they are. 

A survey recently conducted by BrightLocal makes it perfectly clear, showing that 94% of consumers use business listings websites to find local businesses and more. 

Below, I’ll be breaking down some of the most interesting findings from the study:

Why Do Consumers Use Business Listings?

After showing that nearly all consumers (94%) have used business information websites in the past year, the survey asked what the respondents had been hoping to achieve. 

They found that most had multiple reasons for searching business listings, but most were driven to specifically connect with brands they’d never done business with before.

Specifically, the results showed that 66% of consumers used business information sites to find new businesses, while 66% found information on businesses they were already aware of but hadn’t used.

Meanwhile, less than half (48%) used local business listings to find information about businesses they had already used before.

Which Business Listing Platforms Do People Use?

Out of more than 20 options, the results showed that the vast majority of people used a small handful of sites to find information about local businesses.

Unsurprisingly, Google led with 89% of consumers using the service to find a local business at least once in the past 12 months

For comparison, Facebook followed with 48% of respondents using the platform for local business information

It should be noted that in many cases, a platform like Yahoo may be using another service’s search engine – such as the case with Bing. Though only 15% of users directly used Microsoft’s search engine to find local businesses, more than a quarter (28%) used platforms powered by Bing.

Additionally, the reason popular platforms like TripAdvisor or Waze don’t appear high on the list is likely that they focus on one niche, unlike Google or Facebook.

Wrong Information Is Rampant

It should be obvious that your listings need to be accurate for a number of reasons. Not only is important for potential customers to be able to actually find the businesses that offer the products or services they need, but local listings serve as powerful SEO signals as well. 

This is why it is rather surprising that most consumers say they have encountered incorrect information in business listings in the past year. 

According to the report, 85% of consumers found incorrect or incomplete information on a business listing in the last year, and 77% saw conflicting information on a business across different online directories.

Wrong Information Loses You Business

To make it clear how directly inaccurate information on your listings affects your business, 63% of consumers say that finding incorrect information on a business listing would stop them from using that business

That is more than half of your potential new customers gone because your phone number, hours, address, or other basic information are wrong online. 

How Covid Impacted Local Listings

It has to be noted that online local business listings have taken on a new level of importance over the past year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Quickly changing business practices, new safety measures, shifting hours, made it necessary for consumers to check online before going to any business – even ones they’ve been to dozens of times. 

For example, 74% of consumers used local listings to see what Covid-19 safety measures brands had put in place.

Unfortunately, brands didn’t always keep up their side of the bargain by updating their listings as things changes. Based on this survey’s responses, 81% of consumers visited a business that said online it was open, but that was actually closed due to the pandemic.


As the study shows, you don’t need to have your business listed on every site out there. Instead, it is better to focus on keeping your information accurate on every directory your business is on – even if you are only on a handful of local business information sites.

For more information, including additional findings methodology, and further analysis, check out the full report from BrightLocal here.

Reviews are one of the best tools local businesses have for establishing a reputation and trust within their community. The problem is it can be difficult to convince customers to leave their opinion on Google or Yelp, especially due to Yelp’s strict “no review solicitation policy.”

Yelp’s Luther Lowe gave a tip to help get past this hurdle and start generating reviews at the LSA SMX West Local Search Advantage Workshop.

Yelp’s policy against review solicitation prevents businesses from asking for positive reviews, though it has not prevented some other creative attempts to gain a positive standing on the site. However, Yelp does allow incentivized check-ins. Obviously check-ins are not reviews, but when users check-in to receive an offer, they are automatically prompted to review that business the next time that return to the site or mobile app.

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This system gives businesses a means of encouraging users to leave a review without placing their hands on the scale. The problem with allowing incentivized reviews is obviously that many people would be pushed to give dishonest reviews, but through a pre-review reward users are still free to speak their mind.

From a business matter, this also benefits Yelp because more check-ins equates to more value and usage, but it also gives a valuable place for businesses to lightly nudge customers to help spread the word.

Earlier this week we reported on a recent study highlighting the growing influence of online reviews, and there is no service as closely associated with online reviews as Yelp. Of course, Yelp agrees and they’ve commissioned a new study from Nielsen survey data to show it is the most frequently used, most trusted, and even the highest quality local reviews site. But, many are skeptical of their findings.

The study used a sample of just over 1,000 US users of review sites, including competitors such as Angie’s List, Citysearch, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, YP, and Zagat. The survey consisted of 22 questions in all and the sample was weighted for age and gender to be representative of Nielsen’s NetView audience. In a blow to the credibility of the survey however, it seems only a few of the results were released – presumably the results which favored Yelp.

Out of what was released, the survey showed that 78 percent of consumers use review sites to find local businesses and help make purchase decisions, with Yelp taking the lead in several categories such as “most influential,” “most trustworthy,” and “best quality reviews.”

Another source of apprehension for this study was the decision not to include Google or Facebook. When asked, Yelp told Greg Sterling:

Our findings specifically around review sites came after we included Google and Facebook in a question on what sites people use to find local businesses, but those sites aren’t solely focused on local business discovery. We dug deeper into those sites that are.

That led Sterling to the conclusion that Google and Facebook likely exceed Yelp as a source for local business information, but it isn’t dishonest to exclude them from a study focusing specifically on “local business discovery” because both platforms have such broad usage.

The study isn’t completely invalid because of these inconsistencies. It goes without question that Yelp is at the forefront of local business discovery and reviewing and several other studies show that Yelp is in fact influential in local purchasing decisions. This study reinforces the fact that Yelp is a major player in these categories, but obviously it should be taken with some skepticism.

You can see the graphic displaying Yelp’s findings below:

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You can work on building your brand’s image and marketing as much as you want, but at the end of the day bad reviews can outweigh all that hard work. We’d all like to believe that good reviews can balance out the negative, however that notion got pretty well shattered when Mike Blumenthal recently published a set of surveys strongly showing that consumers perceive that a “negative review corpus hurts a business more than positive reviews help them.

For businesses struggling with the issue of negative reviews, this news isn’t a relief. However, Blumenthal reviewed his results and noticed something interesting. Younger consumers seem to be more tolerant of bad reviews than their older counterparts.

Of course, younger consumers aren’t going to forgive a place with an outstanding number of one star reviews. But, it appears that consumers between the ages of 18-24, specifically those who are more savvy to online reviews, may be able to parse negative reviews more thoroughly rather than rejecting businesses out of hand. Rather than accepting the review at face value, they actively search for aspects that could be a deal breaker.

Obviously, the best way to handle a bad review portfolio is to directly address any valid concerns of reviewers, and encourage those who have positive experiences to review your site so that you can potentially water down the negative. But, Blumenthal’s survey suggests that reviews are always the end-all-be-all that we think they are.