3 Reasons Yahoo! Local Search Can Dominate Google

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This week has been filled with news and commentary regarding Yahoo’s release of the new Yahoo! Local. The enhanced system integrates a number of new and exciting elements, all presented to the user in order to deliver a higher quality experience.

For search marketers, Yahoo! Local is exciting because it can be identified as one weak spot where Google can quickly be dethroned. Of course, that all depends on how things play out — but I’m impressed by what I am seeing. With that idea in mind, here are three reasons Yahoo! Local should become the local search giant.

Engaging Content
Unlike Google, Yahoo operates as a true web portal as it provides a wealth of services to it’s audience of users. Everything, from games to fantasy sports, entertainment news to auto reviews — is all in one place. Google, once acclaimed for it’s simplicity — cannot compete here.

My point here is this… When it comes time to integrate local search results, Yahoo has more opportunities. Google fails to tie it’s services together in a portal like setting. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Universal Search is the limit to which Google can deliver a user experience without overhauling everything they do.

We have all heard the real estate mantra of “Location, Location, Location…” and in this case, Yahoo has all the prime real estate to attract local search users.

Local Results are Dependant Upon Social Activity
When it comes down to the number of people searching, Google is clearly the market leader. When it comes down to actively registered users though, Yahoo takes the cake. This is a key component to social search game that many people overlook.

In order to be effective, social search results need to tie in levels of personalization. Everything from photos and menus to reviews and ratings are all tied in to a strong social search result. These elements are not created on their own, they are contributed by users of the entire global system, and again, Yahoo has an advantage here.

The Head Start
Yahoo! Directory was once a prime spot for an inbound link, packed with PageRank for SEO’s to abuse. The price tag though at $300 annually, was an investment that many business owners questioned. Today that investment could be the perfect starting point for Yahoo to exploit a weakness of Google.

For each registered business paying for a directory listing, Yahoo has information on file. Using this information alongside it’s third party data providers, Yahoo can begin offering enhanced local search results. These results would be the product of tapping multiple resources to create a highly personalized and branded result without leaving the context of the search results.

Doing this would do a few things, all of which should benefit Yahoo. First, it would attract new buyers to Yahoo, therefore introducing more revenue. Second, it would serve as a vehicle to revive the Yahoo! Directory at a time where the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) is vulnerable.

Finally, it would put Yahoo back on the map at one of the most influential times in the search industry. Google has begun to grow beyond it’s means, and while experiencing those growing pains — Yahoo! Local looks great. It will all come down to the simple matter of how far Yahoo is willing to push this product out. Based on everything I have seen and experienced, this is a great opportunity for Yahoo! — I just hope they take that opportunity and do not hesitate to look back.

Involved in the industry since 1999, Eric currently manages organic optimization at a Fortune 500 organization. In addition to contributing here on Search Engine Journal, Eric maintains a blog and consulting business at www.ericlander.com.

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