It's no secret that the local search industry is booming. Google has reported that about 25% of all the searches on its site are local and The Kelsey Group has estimated that local search advertising will grow to $13 billion by 2010. Those are some pretty impressive numbers when you figure that traditional "local" advertising like newspapers, local commercials and yellow pages ads add up to about $100 billion each year.

There's an article on this very topic over at Forbes today. It points out that the top five local search sites are currently only reaching a little more than half of all Internet users. It also shares data from ComScore that says local searchers are usually looking for hotels, restaurants and oddly enough, the location of the nearest Wal-Mart store.

According to the Forbes articles, search engines still face a daunting challenge when it comes to matching searchers up with local companies and small businesses. The problem, is how make advertising easy enough to entice the 23 million small businesses that could be advertising. The small mom and pop style shops are unlikely to have the money to hire a firm to manage their online search marketing and are even less likely to have the time to try and manage those campaigns themselves. That means that online local search companies need to find a way to make the process even easier.

That's what Yahoo is looking to do with their latest offering through Yahoo! Local. In a post on the Yahoo! blog last Friday, Aytek Çelik of the Yahoo! Local Team announced plans for a new local advertising program for small business owners. Yahoo's new Local Featured Listings program was specially designed to let small businesses advertise on Yahoo! Local for a flat fee that starts at just $15 per month.

Running at ad via the new service is as simple as signing up, selecting a category, selecting a location and then paying the monthly fee. There's no need to worry about doing keyword research, dealing with bid wars, turning campaign on and off, or any of the other hassles that can be associated with pay per click campaigns.

The image to the right demonstrates the location of these ads. Note that up to three ads will be displayed above the search results and up to three additional ads will be displayed below them. According to Yahoo, the position that an advertiser gets in the top or bottom set will be settled by a "first come, first service" policy.

Yahoo's Local Featured Listings start at $15 a month for a low demand service in a low population area and run up to a top price of $300 a month for a high demand service in a major metropolitan area. The rates are divided into prices for ads that appear at the top of the page as well as for ads that appear below the natural search results. For a full understanding of the fee structure, you can view the Local Featured Listings rate card.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

May 1, 2006

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Plenty of Potential for Small Business in Online Local Ads