Why Local Searchers Look to the Local Finder

On average, 26% of desktop and 36% of mobile users clicked into the Local Finder at least once during their search journeys.

Why Local Searchers Look to the Local Finder

The conventional SEO wisdom is that only the top positions in Google results matter and that users don't really scroll or click around very much below the fold. That thinking extends to the Local Pack. However, we've observed a more complex set of user behaviors in our consumer research for multi-location brand audits.

We were somewhat surprised to find that users frequently and very consciously explored the depths of the Local Finder ("More Places"). Over the past six months or so, we've analyzed the behaviors of more than 700 searchers in multiple verticals to understand what motivated their choices and where they look for answers when performing local searches.

Behaviors vary quite a bit depending on the vertical and device being used. Across verticals, on average, 26% of desktop searchers and 36% of mobile searchers clicked into the Local Finder at least once during their search journey and often made their final choice of whom to contact there.

% of Searchers Engaging with Local Finder
Source: Near Media user research (2023 - 2024).The Google mobile experience lends itself to great use of the More Places button and deeper journeys into the Local Finder.

Why searchers enter the Local Finder

Below is a video from a healthcare searcher that demonstrates why users enter the Local Finder. In this case the searcher is looking to pick from a range of options that are both nearby and highly rated. While searchers infrequently read reviews – our data indicate that roughly two-thirds of users (or more) don't actually read review text – they will frequently scour the length of the Finder to find three or four listings with "good reviews" (star ratings, counts) from which to make a decision.


Source: Near Media user research. The video illustrates the thought process and decision-making rationale of a search user seeking a new doctor.

Why does it matter?

Once a searcher enters the Local Finder, traditional ranking priorities become less important. Searchers will often go six, 10 or even 15 listings deep in the Finder if there are not enough reviewed locations, or if other criteria aren't satisfied. In situations like this, ranking in the top three becomes a great deal less important. The opportunity to stand out with great reviews, photos, complete menus and a good website can make all of the difference to being chosen.

What about your vertical?

In some verticals, like self-storage, where price is a primary consideration and the search is not a YMYL decision (your money or your life), searchers will make their choice quickly and often within the top few results. As you can see in the chart above in cases where reviews are more critical and have a bigger perceived impact on the final choice, journeys into the Local Finder generally become more frequent.

Having said that, there doesn't seem to be a typical behavior you can count on. Understanding how often users head into the Local Finder and how deep they are likely to go is not something most SEO plans address. It can only be gleaned with user focused behavioral research.

Behavior varies greatly by vertical and even sub-category within that vertical. Knowing exactly where your business falls on this consumer behavior spectrum can make your SEO more effective, less expensive and certainly less stressful.