According to new figures from comScore, the use of search tools to find local businesses, products or services grew 58% last year to reach an annual total of 15.7 billion searches.
By comparison, overall U.S. Internet searches grew just 21% to around 137 billion in 2008.
The data shows that more and more Internet users are logging on to find local businesses, potentially driven by the increase in use of mobile Internet and the availability of Google Maps.
Interestingly, when keywords for searches on Yellow Pages were analyzed, it showed that three-quarters of the top 100 keywords were non-branded, indicating that searchers did not have a specific brand in mind at the time of the search.
This enormous growth rate demonstrates the need consumers feel for improved means of finding local businesses. Older methods (classifieds, print Yellow Pages) aren't cutting it.
The question is, what new, social tools will enable consumers to not only locate businesses, but to connect with those businesses trusted by their network of neighbors, relatives, co-workers and friends.
That'll be the Holy Grail - for consumers as well as businesses.