Local Search Growing Beyond Yahoo and Yellow Pages
Local search, the ability to search for specific types of businesses and services in a certain area, is getting hotter and hotter with every minute and may be on the verge of soon living up to its expectations. To date, between the major search engines, Yahoo’s Local Search is leading the way and setting the mold for local business listings with customer reviews, enhanced business listings, and locally targeted advertising. Local search is anchored by traditional search engine offerings like Yahoo and Google Local. However, these services are using an integrated method of ranking based on business listings, yellow pages info, business site information, links, and data centers such as Acxiom and InfoUSA.
According to Hitwise, Yahoo Local had over 4 times the traffic than Google Local in July 2005. Google Local is growing fairly rapidly however, as Google Local’s market share increased 61% between February 2005 and July 2005, while Yahoo! Local grew 14%. Hitwise explains that “Google Local’s catch-up is occurring amidst the growth of Google Maps which has quickly grown…. Maps have proved important to local search users, as 17% of Yahoo! Local’s visitors went directly onto Yahoo! Maps in July 2005.”
Besides Google and Yahoo – MSN, AOL, Ask Jeeves, and even Amazon.com have entered the market with strong local search products. The local search market, however, is still young and open to domination by other innovative search offerings (although Yahoo should continue to thrive with its huge registered user base). One of the companies which is about to make a big splash in the local search pool is Interchange. Interchange has entered the local search market with a strong brand and local offering, Local.com (the domain name was bought last year for $700,000). Local.com serves local search results based on businesses, locations, and its patented technology. Just as big for Interchange as the launch of Local.com is the use of ePilot locally targeted paid search ads in the Local.com results.
If you’ve never heard of ePilot just try running a Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing campaign and one of the ePilot sales reps will probably call and hassle you within 48 hours to buy into their search network (I cannot count the amount of times Gary Spangler at ePilot called and emailed my previous workplace even after we showed no interest – talk about persistance!). Loved by some and regarded as third tier search ca-ca by others, Local.com is sure to legitimize ePilot’s share of the local search advertising market.
Pay-per-call is also a budding part of the local search scene and was just integrated into the Verizon Superpages.com, the leader of online Internet Yellow Pages. Pay-per-call is an alternative to pay-per-click advertising where phone numbers are shown in ads or the end user gives the advertiser’s call center their name and phone number for the call center to contact them. The platform is basically Pay Per Lead since each call is a contact and personal info is usually given to the advertiser, which is the preferred form of traditional direct response advertising on television and radio — opening up a huge market to search listings pay-per-call ads.
Kelsey Group‘s Greg Sterling adds “Since FindWhat.com (now MIVA) and Ingenio first announced the rollout of Pay per Call last September, there has been a rising tide of expectations and anticipation surrounding the “new” medium. That further intensified with the recent introduction of Pay per Call distribution on AOL. There is now a host of companies that have emerged (or altered their business models) in an effort to enter the market. These include CallSource, CIRXIT, eStara, MediaTracks, ThinkingVoice, VoiceStar and ZiffLeads.” Time to add Superpages to that list Greg!
Search Engine Roundtable covered the Verizon announcement at Search Engine Strategies “Verizon superpages.com revealed that they will be offering a robust pay for call system of paid search listings within its online and print directories. In a conversation with Wesley Lones at an event held by Verizon last night, I was able to get some more details about the exciting news. Advertisers will purchase a listing in the directory that provides a link to a landing page which furnishes a phone number to the prospective client. Only visitors that actually follow-through to make a call will be considered a billable “conversion.” As with pay per click, the highest bidder will receive top listing for a particular term.”
Next up, working on securing your local search listings.