Local Search - Issues and Opportunities

Jun 21, 2005 • 1:35 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under WebmasterWorld 2005 New Orleans
 

Stephanie Leffler, the CEO of Monster.com is moding up this session. Behind the scenes, Jake Baillie is up first because he has to run to an other session taking place (at the same time) to speak on both panels (iron man of search speaking).

Jack Baillie - TrueLocal Local search issues from the True Local perspective. TrueLocal history was up first, their mission is to drive offline sales online, TrueLocal has 30,000 unique queries per day and TrueLocal is tiny. Regular users are sick of results from main search engines (all that spam). Technical issues; use local hosting, have a spider-able address on your site, have a store locator on your site, put your catalog online, get listed in shopping engines, data providers (d&b, infousa, etc.). Average word count per search is 1.8 (after entering in location), most popular category is restaurants and top feature request is up to date data. Most popular cats; restaurants, dentists, apartments, golf courses, kitchen cabinets, furniture, gyms, tax help, movie theaters, dry cleaners, government offices and construction. Most popular location, Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, NY, San Diego, etc. Biggest challenges, fresh data (closed businesses), determining user intent (local user or traveler (65% are travelers)), differentiation from our competitors, approximate matching, categorization and synonyms. Local search advertising considerations; online ads local do better, IYP vs Local Search vs Directories, pay per call vs pay per click vs sponsorship (click fraud issues and patent issues with ppc), many times - its cheaper, an advertisement for restaurants in 60603 is getting about 10,000 impressions per month.

Justin Sanger - LocalLaunch Separating Local Search Issues: - Local Search Targeting Local search belongs in everyone of these sessions (local web site development (50%+ local businesses do not have Web sites), local PPC (geo ip), local SEO (geo keyword), local authority identification and internet yellow pages (IYP). Basically, he is tired of people saying local search is new, it is not new.

- Small Business Adoption There is opportunity; 60% of SMEs conduct 75% of their business from customers within a 50-mile radius, 22 million small and medium sized businesses, $22 billion spent on local ads, $15 billion in yellow pages, 46% of their ad budget on yellow pages and only 3% on Internet. The difficulty; SMEs have on average $5,000 per year to spend on marketing, complexity of paid search products, product bundling necessities (my comment: make it easier, remember Yahoo!'s free Web site and local listing?), and lack of established local search engine sales channels (product simplification aggregators and agency support).

- Local Search Segmentation Why Segment Locally? Google Local & Yahoo Local is where you see it, unique environments for local. 20 - 35%+ of all search has local intent, local search requires unique results sets, different drill down requirements, approximately 90% of search conversions occur offline. Local search data is coming from offline content (D&B, InfoUSA, etc), internet content (web page contact us pages, etc.), and user content (registered with engine). Local Search needs to display business profiles (structured data), user reviews, proximity scoring, business ratings, and mapping features. He then brings up a Yahoo! Local result, and its great and you must look at your local results (my comment: Yahoo! does an excellent job with this). He said you should go in there and rate the business with five stars (I did that and reported it to Yahoo!).

- Innovation and Pure Plays Social networking, life management, pay per call, mobile are all methods of to innovate your business to do well in local.

- Local by Locals Is there room in the marketplace? Yes. Search engines by nature are horizontal. Vertical coverage is achievable by local businesses, unlike major search engines. Local media, like newspapers have an advantage.

John De Vitis - MSN Search He is the product unit manager at MSN Local Search. They launched MSN Search on Feb. 1, when they first did this, they introduced this "Near Me" button on the search box, allowing to provide more relevant results. Today they are happy to announce their local search offering that looks a lot like Google Local (sorry), it shows a listing in directory style ordered in proximity, with maps on the right (with more filtering options and satellite views). Next for Local is to integrate MSN Earth with local. MSN Search Strategy; (1) Better Answers, Faster, (2) Broader Selection, (3) Integrated User Experience, (4) Platform for Innovation.

Ryan Massie - Ask Jeeves What is local search? 10 - 15% Ask.com searches have local modifiers, More than just business listings (its maps, web, weather, movie), local impact. Challenge 1 is understanding user intent and challenge 2 is delivering the right results (volume, and freshness/comprehensivness). Understanding Intent is what he explains next by showing a keyword search for "Atlanta Bread Company". Ask brings up ways to help the searcher figure out; they bring up a local vertical box at the top and then the web results and further more they have "related searches" on the right side. Ask gets content from CitySearch with line listings, ratings and reviews. CitySearch is the content, infousa for line listings, google adwords for web search ad pages. Opportunities to improve local search through better content (structuring web content), search (intent), social and personal qualities of local search (craigslist, wikis, and personalization).

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