Local Search Finds Recognition In 2006

As the year winds down and we look back on the year in search there were many great stories, mergers, personnel changes and interesting new products introduced. 2006 will ultimately be remembered in marketing history as the year local search marketing showed it could pay its way. ComScore released these amazing local search figures;

"....Based on a recent comScore Search Satisfaction study, 41 percent of those conducting a local search were searching for something in their home area, as opposed to searching for information on businesses in locales that they intended to visit. Additionally, among those searching in their home area, 59 percent indicated they were searching for a restaurant or something entertainment-related, such as a theater, theme park or an attraction for sightseeing. Another 52 percent said they were searching specifically for a business phone number or address. Two out of five local searchers (41 percent) were looking for information on a local service in their home area, including car rental office, dry cleaner or lawyer.

The comScore study also found that performing a local search drives consumers to take action. During the second quarter of 2006, 47 percent of local searchers visited a local merchant as a result of their search behavior, while 41 percent made contact offline. More than one-third (37 percent) made contact online as a result of conducting a local area search.

"Local search is experiencing strong growth as more consumers adapt to the 'always on' nature of their broadband connection, which enables them to quickly find information on local businesses," said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix. "With approximately 849 million local searches conducted by Americans in July, local advertisers have a sizable market that can be reached through leading search sites...."

2007 Prediction; YP's Unleash The Sales Hounds

Print directory operators like Yellow Pages and Yellow Book will concentrate on the digital customer. With print Yellow Pages usage clearly flattening these giants have no other choice but to retrain their sales forces to push their web platforms. There are breadcrumbs found and whispers heard across the internet that this is already beginning. Personal confirmation came when I received a call from a YellowPages.com salesman.

This guy was polished and his pitch was convincing as you would expect. He found me from the free listing I submitted to the YellowPages.com directory. He could put me in the third spot from the top on searches for "Internet Marketing" and one or two other keyword phrases for under $50. per month for the county I live in. The same spot for the entire State of California would be $500. per month. He quoted me usage stats on my keywords and suggested that the phrase "Internet marketing" was queried 34,000 times to date in 2006 on their platform.

I asked him where would my ad be distributed and he told me "throughout the Internet" without providing much detail until I pressed him. I already knew they provided listings to Yahoo, AOL, Switchboard and Local.com and some others but he was intentionally vague other than admitting the relationship with Yahoo! Local. In truth the distribution of YellowPages.com is not that extensive.

Intentionally vague must be #1 on the YP sales training handbook. Until I asked I was to believe my sponsored ad would be seen on all the platforms YellowPages.com partners with. I knew better, I know what it takes to get top sponsored listings on all the platforms. He never lied, he just never explained the whole story.

How many people will fall for this? The majority I believe. Yellow Pages sales people are familiar and while you may not like their pressure tactics you know what you are getting. It's easy to verify your print Yellow Pages ad just by looking in the book.

Currently there are few to none people selling the idea of local search to the mom and pop merchant. Most web marketers are concentrating on larger companies. Consultation fees run $200. to $500. per hour and many want a $25,000 monthly spend to take you as a client.

The void will be filled by the YP sales forces. They are coming and they will be very convincing and unless mom and pop understand their options they will pay.

If you get hit up by a Yellow Pages sales person and want to bounce their pitch off someone feel free to shoot me an email.
Whatever they are quoting you for sponsored placement on their sites your money can be better spent by spreading it out on the multitude of local search engines and directories available.
I don't charge anything for conversation!


Top 10 Local Search Oriented Blog Posts

Mike The Internet Guy offers up his list of "Top 10 Local Search Engine Optimization Blog Posts of 2006". Great list! Much thanks to Mike for putting the list together.
Lot's of A-list search marketing bloggers represented.


More On Wikiasari

Jimbo Wales of Wikia informs reporters and bloggers that Amazon are strictly investors in the project.

"Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken.

Why is it broken? It is broken for the same reason that proprietary software is always broken: lack of freedom, lack of community, lack of accountability, lack of transparency.

Here, we will change all that.

There have been some amazing projects in recent years which have matured now to the point that a new alternative is possible. Wikia is funding and supporting the development of something radically new..."


Wikiasari, Wikipedia and Amazon To Team Up

Search Engine Watch contributor Frank Watson blogs on an article from the London Times that Wikipedia and Amazon plan to team up to take on Google in search.

Just yesterday I was appreciating the power of Wikipedia and asked my boys ages 15 and 13 if they use Wikipedia and they responded like I was an ancient geezer, duh!
I asked if the prefer Wikipedia to Answers and I received an upgraded response. Wiki "pedia" is more like an encyclopedia. When I reminded tham that Answers.com cites encyclopedias as well as other top level reference sources they told me it doesn't matter, Wikipedia does the trick.
I can see why too, Wikipedia takes you directly to the definition of a matter, not 14 ways to pronounce the word or term before getting to the meat of the term in question.

I think they appreciate Wikipedia's informal and unpolished presentation. Curiously my kids did not know what a Wiki was! The geezer knew something the web wiz boys did not know.

The Wiki concept doesn't appear to have taken the middle or high school kids by storm yet.

A decent effort by Amazon and Wikipedia may steal some eyeballs from Google. I find myself going to Wikipedia more often. This is because Google and Yahoo are serving me less relevant results. Google has been gamed, SEOed to death basically.

Wikiasari, the name is lame but I can't wait to see it!


Craigslist For Local Merchants

Mike Boland posts his thoughts on an article from The Street.com on how small business is waking up to the Craigslist for marketing. This subject is not new at all but it's nice to see some commentary from The Street and very nice to read Mike Boland's expert insight on the subject.


Former Googler Wins Survivor

Ex-Googler Yul Kwon won the 1 million dollar prize on the Survivor TV show last night. According to Kwon's biography he worked with Google's business strategy group for a time.

His bio reads like a Googler;

"Kwon then attended Stanford University and obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in symbolic systems (theoretical computer science). While at Stanford, he received the James Lyons Award for Service, attended officer candidates school for the U.S. Marine Corps and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Kwon went on to receive his Juris Doctor Degree from Yale Law School, where he served on the editorial board of the Yale Law Journal.

Kwon has enjoyed a diverse career straddling both the private and public sectors in law, business and technology. He practiced a mix of litigation, appellate, transactional and regulatory work at several law firms. He also served as a judicial clerk to a federal judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Additionally, he worked as a legislative aide to Senator Joseph Lieberman in Washington, D.C., where he helped draft sections of the Homeland Security Bill and other technology-related legislation. Several years ago, Kwon decided to switch careers and become a management consultant at McKinsey. From there, he joined Google's business strategy group and most recently went back into consulting. "


Google Making It Easy For The Local Advertiser

This is a follow up to my post a couple of days ago. Inside AdWords explains how to use AdWords even if you don't have a website.


Google Local Tab Coming Back?

Will Google replace the current Maps tab with the original Local tab?

While following up on my previous post cruising through the AdWords labyrinth I noticed Google is referring to a "Local" tab in the local targeting demo video which can be accessed from this page. There is no reference to the "Maps" tab on the demo.

According to Wayback we see Google introduced a local tab on February 4, 2005 and this is how the home page looked back then.
In April of this year Google replaced the Local tab with the Maps tab seen here. So will Google go back to the future or is the video outdated? I hope they do, the maps tab is confusing to everyone but big G's engineers. I'm always having to convince clients it really is their local search engine.

Google AdWords; No Website Needed

Greg Sterling points us to AdWord , a product that allows advertisers to display their small business ad without a website.
They have made it so easy even a Caveman can do it.


SES Chicago Local Panel

SERoundtable blogs the local panel from S.E.S. Chicago.

There is so much to be learned from this presentation. I'm running tonight so I cannot elaborate on all the juicy details at the moment but I consider the review a must read.

A snippet from the panel. These notes reflect the words of panelist Justin Sanger the President of LocalLaunch.com;

"How do you do something different? Tactical fragmetnation, online classified, yellow pages, local media sites like news slite, judysbook, social networking, local and vertical search, craigslist, Yelp, Insider Pages, 2006 is the year of social marketing. Each of these is significant. They lead to confusion though. Need to think beyond traditional seo like landing pages. 'There is no single landing page for a business anymore. It's not about a website. It's about business information online. It's a different way of thinking. We must cleanse, enrich and optimize content. Think: Atomization - separate and spread. Managing and dispersing biz info is the local search markeitng tactic of our time. The new local search landscape requires new thinking."

Justin has his finger on it. We have been preaching this mantra now for more than a year. It's a very exciting time for the local advertiser.

* In the history of media there has never been a better opportunity for local businesses to dominate their niche. Some day this wide open door will close, for now the early adopter is enjoying rare air.

A more detailed summary of the panel can be found on this PDF.


AskCity To Include Reviews From Multiple Sites

John Battelle runs an interview with the CEO of ASK.com concerning the premiere of AskCity.com their new local search vertical. Concerning consumer generated reviews he points out the following;

"We not only feature full editorial profiles of each business, but we include 10 years worth of reviews, both from IAC companies like Citysearch and ServiceMagic, as well as non-IAC companies like Yelp, Tribune, OpenTable, RottenTomatoes, TripAdvisor, InsiderPages, JudysBook, Fandango and others. 
An important differentiator with AskCity is the fact that we return these reviews right within the results, just beneath the full profile of the business, service, locale, movie, etc. We even have reviews of the movie theaters themselves.

Nice, Yahoo uses InsiderPages and Yelp reviews are found with increased frequency on Google. What this means to the small business operator is they need to be reviewed actively.

Part of our service is explaining how to have your customers review your business or service. Do a search on Yelp, Angie's List, InsiderPages or Judy's Book and see if you have been reviewed. Look at the positive and negative summaries or reviews. If you have been reviewed negatively those poor mentions can be mediated. The positive reviews will act as gold as the genre gains traction. Soon all local business will be judged in part by consumer reviews.


The Holy Grail Of Local Search

Find the clues within this grasshopper and you too shall understand the potential power of internet advertising for local business today.