In the last few years, local search has given us many impressive advertising ideas to promote local businesses online. This includes pay-per-call advertising, localized search engines, and newer Internet yellow page and online newspaper advertising opportunities, just to name a few. As impressive as they may be, many end users just don't use them on a regular basis.
It reminds me of the movie Singles, a standard multiple-plot movie of 20-somethings back in grunge-era Seattle. One of the plots was to combat Seattle's increasing traffic with new and innovative public transit options. The only problem was that most people just liked to drive their cars.
The same can apply here. Many people just like to use Google and Yahoo. They are both trusted names that people use on a daily basis. They both have separate local listings from their main results. People "Google" you, which can't be said with other outlets.
A big question that has surfaced lately is about the satisfaction of local search engine results. They haven't always cut the mustard with their lack of content and consumer choices. According to that article and the noted Kelsey Group and Constat research with it, only 39% of respondents were satisfied with local search engine results. Even more surprising is only 45% of these same respondents were satisfied with their own, trusted print newspaper. The silver lining is that search engines currently rank 2nd in local shopping satisfaction only to trusted print newspapers. Internet yellow pages, online newspaper sites, and other local portals fall way behind.
Both Google and Yahoo Local provide business data, partly provided by 3rd party yellow page aggregators. What they have been lacking is content about the actual businesses. It's not that the opportunity isn't there. For a long time, Google has invited businesses to get listed for free at their local business center. Yahoo has had a similar approach with their own free listings and a new flat-rate local featured listings program, a pricing model similar to traditional yellow pages. These programs allow the local advertiser to showcase the deep content that's needed about their business.
In regards to local search, both Google and Yahoo Search Marketing (previously Overture) have branded themselves for quite awhile. Many local search verticals, such as Internet yellow pages, have flocked to search engines for pay-per-click advertisements, and even business development relationships since Search Engine Watch's Danny Sullivan first wrote about local search almost 3 years ago. They understood back then that's where consumers are used to going. If you search on Google or Yahoo for almost any professional service in your nearest U.S. metropolitan area, you can see for yourself.
Does this mean that Google and Yahoo are the only local advertising opportunities out there? Not at all. My guess is if you do a search for something locally on TrueLocal or local.com, you'll find relevant results very quickly. Try it out for yourself. There are search verticals out there like these that have been around for awhile and are worth your consideration.
New local advertising innovations will inevitably sprout up as local search continues to grow. Some will try to compete with the search engines, some will advertise with them. Larger outfits such as Internet yellow pages will most likely continue to enter partnerships with them. Whichever the case, the search engines will continue to promote local search and businesses will have the opportunity to be visible in them, if done right.
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Paul Jahn is the owner of Localmn Interactive Marketing, a Minnesota-based Internet marketing company. Localmn focuses on helping local companies large and small leverage the most out of their search marketing campaigns depending on their respective needs, including SEO, PPC, local search, and social media campaigns. Paul also runs and contributes to the Localmn local search blog.
With over ten years of Internet marketing experience, Paul has particular expertise in search marketing, with extensive knowledge of local search.
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