More local consumers expect a local business to have a functional website with critical business content than 18 months ago. These are the key findings of a 2016 survey, among 800 local US consumers, by local search platform BrightLocal. The BrightLocal survey revealed that more than one-third of consumers feel that a proper functioning website with critical business content boosts the credibility of a local business and persuades them to contact that business. One in five consumers said it doesn’t make a difference to them whether a local business has a website or not. Only 9% said they would not do business with it a local business that has a bad or ugly website.
BrightLocal also asked the survey participants to identify the most important aspects of a local business website. Respondents cited that product and/or service descriptions, opening hours and a price list were the most important attributes of a local business website. Other attributes like customer testimonials, images of the place of business, FAQ’s and regular blog updates were of lesser importance to consumers.
Most Important Website Attributes
The BrightLocal survey data reveals that consumers more likely use a local business if the website displays detailed information about the business, including company origins and/or history and the products and services it offers. Another important factor, according to BrightLocal, is the location of the business, meaning how close the consumer is located to the physical address of the business. A clear physical address and a variety of contact options are also key in persuading consumers to use a local business
Less Important Website Attributes
BrightLocal also wanted to know which website attributes would convince users not to use a local business. BrightLocal found that thin, low quality content puts consumers off more than any other factor. Other major negatives were no phone number displayed on the website, no prices for competitive comparison and a physical location too far for the consumer to travel to.
Surprisingly, based on the BrightLocal survey data, a slow, hard to use and buggy website that is not mobile-friendly does not seem to frustrate and turn off too many consumers. Other research, however, has indicated that mobile-friendliness, easy navigation and website speed are leading attributes for website users. A recent survey by Yodle an online marketing platform, revealed that 56% of local business consumers preferred to access websites that have easy-to-use navigation and are optimized for mobile devices. Soasta a performance analytics company, and The Harris Poll, surveyed 2,044 US adults ages 18 and older. More than three-quarters of the survey participants indicated that easy navigation, website speed and reliability ‒ the fact the site does not crash ‒ were their leading attributes of website performance.
Past research has also indicated that different Internet users would like to contact businesses in different ways. This means that to maximize the conversion to contact, a website should offer as many contact options as possible. BrightLocal found that 41% of the consumers they polled prefer to contact a local business on the phone after viewing their website; 20% prefer email and 19% want to visit the business. Therefore, it’s obvious that the business phone number must be clearly displayed on the homepage and nearly every other page of the website.