Pew Research’s study  How people learn about their local community  shows that the Internet has become a top source of local information.

In general, getting information about local businesses is important to most adults. 62% of all adult Internet users and 72% of adults in households earning $75,000 or more seek information about local businesses. (1)

This new research shows that the Internet is the number-one source people use to get information about local businesses. It is even more influential than newspapers and word-of-mouth. (2)

  • 28% of adults rely on the Internet for news about local businesses and restaurants
  • 18% prefer the newspaper (but this may include the newspaper’s website)
  • 13% favor word-of-mouth (but for a younger demographic, this is linked to social media)

The web offers a variety of tools to locate information about local businesses, such as Facebook, Twitter, local business directory sites, and search engines. However, this research shows that consumers turn to search engines most often when they are looking for information about local businesses. (3)

Finally, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers seem to drive people to the Internet for local information. (4)

  • 47% of adults get at least some local news and information via their smartphones or tablet computers
  • 31% of all adults said they used those mobile devices to find local restaurants or local businesses
  • 16% of all adults said they used those mobile devices to get or use coupons for discounts at local stores

What does this mean for you as a local business owner?

Newspapers and word-of-mouth are still key avenues for publicizing your products and services. However, the Internet is more influential than newspapers and word-of-mouth.

The local businesses most likely to prosper are those who invest in an engaging website, an effective search engine optimization strategy, and content tailored for mobile devices.

To read more, see  How people learn about their local community  by the  Pew Internet and American Life Project