Mobile local search is growing at unprecedented levels: 77.1 million mobile subscribers accessed local content* via mobile devices in January 2011, up 34% from the 57.6 million who did so one year earlier, according to a report by the Local Search Association (LSA).

The use of mobile apps to access local content grew most dramatically: 56% of surveyed mobile subscribers used apps to access local content in January, up 14 percentage points (PPs) (or 34%) from the 42% who did so a year earlier.

Even so, browsers are still the most popular way to find local content via mobile: 73% of mobile subscribers found local business information via the mobile Web in January, though that number was down slightly (2 PPs) from 75% in January 2010.

Accessing local content via SMS dropped 5 PPs to 25% in 2011, from 30% in 2010.

Below, other findings from the 2011 State of Local Search Study conducted by comScore for the LSA.

Overall, local searches accounted for 13% of core search activity across the top Web search portals as of March 2011, according to the report.

Portals Play Major Role in Local Search

When searching for local information, most (74%) online adults use major Web portals (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL) as their primary search site; only 9% turn to local search sites first and 7% use Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) sites (e.g., DexKnows, Superpages, Yellowbook, first:

Local Sites More Popular at Secondary-Search Level

When search for local information, nearly one-third (32%) of online adults use local search sites (e.g., Yahoo Local, Bing Maps, etc.) as their secondary search site and 23% use IYP sites:

Consumers Look to IYPs for Accurate Information

Among those who use IYPs as their secondary search source, 24% do so to find the more accurate information (than what they found using their primary source) and 20% do so when they're ready to make a purchase.

But most (48%) local searchers use the IYPs as a secondary source when they can't find what they're looking for using their primary source.

Brand Recognition Key Driver of Internet Yellow Pages Search

When searching for local information, those who choose IYP sites first are more likely to do so because of brand recognition and reputation (58%) and speed and accuracy of the site (58%), whereas other search site users are driven by convenience (65%) (e.g., toolbars and set homepages) and site attributes (40%) (e.g., maps, reviews, and photos).

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Other key findings:

  • Overall, local content dominates core mobile behaviors among online adults with most searching for information about weather (26%), maps (18%), news (18%), movies (12%) and restaurants (10%).
  • A total of 5.6 billion local searches were conducted via Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and local search sites in 2010, up 15% over 2009 levels.

* Local content includes business directories, classifieds, maps, movie information, news, online retail, real estate listings, restaurant information, traffic reports, and weather.

About the data: Findings are based on comScore data, including a combination of comScore MobiLens, Mobile Metrix, Ad Metrix Mobile, and Plan Metrix Mobile; and a survey of more than 2,000 online adults in March 2011, for the Local Search Association (LSA), formerly the Yellow Pages Association.

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Local Business Search: Mobile Surges 34%

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