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Old 28th March 2006, 04:20 PM   #1
thejenn
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Default Local Search Still Not Cutting the Mustard

Authored by: Jennifer Laycock

Full Text: http://www.searchengineguide.com/laycock/007158.html

A Snippet:

What's disappointing is that despite the investments poured into local search by top engines like Yahoo! and Google, the Internet search engine satisfaction rate of 39% is the same that it was last year, meaning that despite the new offerings, users aren't finding it any easier to get what they want.

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Old 29th March 2006, 08:47 PM   #2
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The 39% satisfaction rate is a little surprising to me, although I can see how user adoption is slow. I'm actually more surprised of the 45% satisfaction rate from newspapers. I would have figured to see a much higher percentage.

It kind of reminds me of traffic problems in metro areas. You can make light-rail-trains and easy bus commutes, but people like myself just like to drive our cars. It makes me think the same applies here. Some people just like to pick up their printed yellow pages. It's simple and you don't have to learn anything new. Or, they tried going online, didn't have a good user experience and just went back to their printed yellow pages. Any thoughts?

Paul

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Old 29th March 2006, 10:24 PM   #3
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I recently conducted a localized keyword study for one of my companies (technology service) to find out if there were any potential clients in my area that were trying to find my services online. The results were surprising. Local searches for my services in my area were virtually non-existant.

I also conducted one for a friend's insulation business and the results were the same.

I am guessing that these results mean that the searcher for the most part isn't running sophisticated enough searches to get local results, and because of this, business owners aren't optimizing for the phrases. Vicious circle.

I think the SEO / web developer community has their work cut out for them to educate not only the general users but also business owners as to the power of localized searching. Community based sites may be the way to go, but they will require a lot of traditional marketing to get them off the ground.

my 2 cents.

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Old 30th March 2006, 09:59 AM   #4
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Default The Evolution of Local Search

I firmly believe we will see major strides made in local search in the next year or two. The potential money is going to drive this market. The Internet is perfect for researching local products and services. When searching for local businesses what is more preferable, a static ad in the yellow pages or a dynamic web site.

It is going to require better local search results, but also local businesses having an effective web presence. Some industries like real estate are already shifting significant portions of the marketing budget to the Internet. In general, I believe the local service industries will lead the way. The Internet offers a more cost-effective means to generate new business. The problem is figuring out how to successfully get online.

There are no turn-key solutions. When I talk to local business owners they all know they need to get online, but they haven't a clue where to start. There is considerable confusion and frustration. Many are getting burned in the process by so-called experts who lack the expertise to marketing localling online.

Regardless, it is just a matter of time before the Internet becomes the most important marketing and advertising resource for local businesses.

Regards
Fred Waters


Last edited by FredWat; 30th March 2006 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 30th March 2006, 10:12 AM   #5
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Default Local Search

Hello everyone, I am a first-time poster to the forum and have enjoyed reading Jennifer's column for several months now. As an active participant in local search technology, I attended the Drilling Down on Local executive conference by the Kelsey Group earlier this week. It is my contention that local search will start at global search (YHOO, GOOG) and move into vertical sites where a consumer can get an in-depth, granular look at local data.

The sites will be a "vertical hybrid", where "hybrid" is a combination of Local, Vertical, Social, and Personal preferences. Services is a good example of where verticals will play a key role.

If you are looking for a baseball teacher for your all-star son, a yellow page listing does very little in providing the necessary information you need to make a buying decision. A phone number, name, and location just isn't going to cut it. If you can go to a vertical site that lets you compare and interview a service provider based on your personal in-depth preferences and see social feedback (such as "I want a teacher that teaches 5 miles from my work, available on Thursdays, good with kids, has a social rating of 4 stars or above, and likes the Yankees"), you can provide an incredible user experience for both the consumer and the merchant. You see a few small sites moving this way and even the big guys (superpages is a good example).

How do you get this in-depth data? Make it easy for a business owner to provide a custom profile and use the profile to drive new customers to them through clicks, calls, SMS, and live help online. When they see more customers that are traced back to the internet, they will continue to migrate towards technology. It's not a quick and easy scenario, but it is possible.

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Old 30th March 2006, 10:33 AM   #6
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Default Local Search?

Hi - I'm new here as well. I was curious about something jvane said. That he checked on local searches and found that his business didn't come up at all as being searched on a local level. I was wondering if you used an "overture" type tool to do this or exactly how you were finding this info. ??

thanks,
Martin Jones

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Old 30th March 2006, 12:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjone
Hi - I'm new here as well. I was curious about something jvane said. That he checked on local searches and found that his business didn't come up at all as being searched on a local level. I was wondering if you used an "overture" type tool to do this or exactly how you were finding this info. ??

thanks,
Martin Jones
Hi Martin,

I mostly used Word Tracker for my keyword study.

My Process: I came with a list of terms that I felt people would search for, and then added my province/ state or city to the term to get a feel for who was locally looking for my services. For example, I would use "computers edmonton" and see if there was anybody out there typing that in to the search engines. I entered my own phrases, and also dug pretty hard in the Word Press data for some additional phrases and keyword terms.

When little results were showing for even some generic geographic terms, it told me that people were simply not typing localized searches in the engines for my area. Now, for the above example it doesn't mean that there are not people from Edmonton looking for a local computer company online, it just means that they are not sure where to go or what to type online when they do.

Hope this helped a bit.

Jason

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Old 30th March 2006, 02:35 PM   #8
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Default Local Search

Thanks Jason.

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Old 31st March 2006, 10:41 PM   #9
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Default Local Search

I currently work on Local Search engine marketing for small businesses and have about 100 customers. The problems with the current landscape are numerous. Number one most businesses, if not all, would LOVE to come up on searches in Google, Yahoo, MSN, Superpages, etc. when someone in their area is searching for what they sell. One problem however lies in the time and expertise necessary to do this. For the most part, posting information or updating profiles is second nature to us but not the average business owner who is somewhat intimitated by the Internet and/or does not have the time. It's wishful thinking that a local restaurant owner is evening thinking about his Internet strategy! Another problem is most local/small businesses have very poor websites typically designed like your circa 1996 website. These poor designs don't reel in customers even if they were found through a Google search. I think companies like Verizon have an opportunity with their relatively large marketing budgets but lack a user centric business model. When searching superpages your dealt with 8 or so listings from companies completely out of your area only because these companies are willing to pay for the exposure. The local businesses that 'should' come up don't because they are not paying Verizon as much. Google Local just plain stinks because there is very very little information about the business itself (big mistake Google). Yahoo Local is easily the best but has not reached a critical mass yet. If Yahoo, Google, MSN or whoever is going to have a serious Local search component worth using they will unfortunately need a lot of good old fashioned street on the feet sales people or partner with companies that already do. Otherwise local search will probably come up somewhat short. Business owners just have too much to do running their business and need someone to come in and offer up a solution at a fair price. If this happens AND the search result is 'relevant' (unlike Verizon's current model) then we'd have something!! That is why printed Yellow Pages worked for so long.


Last edited by rhstock; 1st April 2006 at 12:02 AM. Reason: typo
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