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Monday, October 3rd, 2005

A Look at Local Search

September has graduated into October and there is simply no more time to whine about a summer spent staring at the screen. Autumn is upon us and the retail world is gearing up for what should be the most wonderful time of the year. Not only is my birthday just two days away, Christmas is coming. With the traditional surge in consumer activity spurred by both events, I am curious about what is happening on the local search front. Read more…

The concept of local Internet advertising is rapidly gaining acceptance with users and advertisers with a predicted 46% increase in ad-spending in 2005 according to a study conducted by Borrell Associates in 210 U.S. media markets.

The Borrell study includes advertising in online newspapers but notes that local-search spending accounted for nearly 8.4% of the market. 2004 was the first year Borrell included search in its local online ad-spending studies. Read more…

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Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

2004 – A Year of Search in Review

This is the last edition of the StepForth Weekly News for 2004, making this the perfect time to write a retrospective before moving into the new year. The past year will be remembered as the most interesting year in the history of search, that is until this time next year. 2004 witnessed the end of the search engine cold-war and the beginning of what is likely to be an intense rivalry between Google and MSN. It also showed a clear demarcation between who’s hot and who’s not in the business of search. Read more…

I love New York City. More than any other city on the planet, New York is exciting, expansive and always interesting. As Earth’s unofficial capital city New York is home to many of the world’s largest entities, some even bigger than Donald Trump’s ego. No other city has captured the world’s imagination or harnessed its wealth to the degree of NYC. New York is also the home of over8-million people. As one of the most multicultural cities, every cultural group in the world is represented within its 301 square mile area. New Yorkers aren’t just city-folk, they define what is hip in urban living in the early part of this century. Unlike their counterparts in cities like LA, Rome or Tokyo, New Yorkers don’t fall for fads, set trends, or get giddy over the next new thing, ever. They are one of the most jaded and cynical populations and in their East Coast way, take great pride in their worldliness. That’s what makes them the perfect test market for Yahoo’s local-search engine. Read more…

Internet advertising has evolved significantly over the years. In the beginning pop-ups were just that – pop-ups. When they open, you close them and move on. The original pop-ups are still there, but they have also evolved into interstitial ads – you know, those annoying versions that require some level of interaction to make them go away. Some times it’s a video, sometimes a static ad, but it’s always right in your face.

When PPC ads started appearing in search engines they were simple text ads separated by the non-paid listings – they were non-intrusive and un-offending to the searcher. Over the years they have significantly evolved, but to the searcher they, for the most part, remained the same. Most of the changes have been in the realm of the advertiser in terms of ad management and specific targeting abilities, in particular local targeting.

Google has its Local Targeting Options and Overture has its Local Match. A variety of other pay per click engines are offering Geo Targeting based on country, and soon, will likely offer very targeted city and precise searching by radius.

Now both Google and Overture offer the ability to target very specific locations, within 20 miles from a specific point by using the physical address or longitude and latitude. This precise method of targeted PPC advertising is still quite new, but will likely shift over to the second tier engines in time if it proves to be beneficial to both advertisers and searchers.

Such local targeting gives localized business the chances to advertise online with the chance of receiving qualified business. A small craft shop in Vancouver that does not offer online sales, can now place an ad online that will be directed to only local qualified traffic – no more wasted leads from searchers in Toronto.

Hacking The Locals

In Many cases, creating a successful Ad Campaign requires a look at the competitor’s ads. If you are targeting specific countries outside of your own, in many cases it is either near impossible, or extremely difficult to view the competition – until now.

If you are an advertiser in the US and also place ads targeting the UK, it is difficult to see your direct competition unless you are located in the UK. Although it may have been around for a long time, today I just learned of a Google hack that gets you around this.

After you perform your search in Google, go up to the address bar and at the end of the URL add the text ‘gl=uk’; (or instead of uk, any applicable country code), hit enter and you will now see a listing of AdWords ads that are targeted towards the UK.

FeedBack

Have you have an experience with Local Targeting for any of your PPC campaigns? I would love to hear about your positive and negative experiences! Email me at scott@StepForth.com.

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Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

Yahoo Challenges Google

Yahoo’s Overture has picked up the Local Search gauntlet dropped by Google’s Adwords program in April. As Scott Van Achte writes this week, “Overture’s Local Match allows advertisers to promote their business regardless of weather or not they even have a website.” In this move, Yahoo is not only targeting Google’s Adwords program, they are also taking on the Yellow Pages. “It’s an important part of the search business,” said Overture spokesperson Gaude Paez. “Our own research, as well as the research of others, shows that many people who search for products buy them offline.” (quote from Jason Lopez NewsFactor Network article)

Localized search is one of the key features the major search engines are trying to perfect in order to present stronger competition to each other and other traditional listings services such as the aforementioned Yellow Pages.

In the organic listings, Yahoo is basing its localized results on the street address mentioned on a website while Google bases its localized results on the IP number of the computer conducting the search.

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Thursday, April 29th, 2004

PPC for Local Brick and Mortar?

With Google’s new Local Targeting features, it is possible for a small brick and mortar business with a website to achieve relevant internet traffic from within their local area. For some time now Google has allowed for ads to be country specific. Now not only can an advertiser target specific countries and states/provinces but they can also focus on actual target cities. Read more…

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Friday, March 19th, 2004

Google looks local

Google is beta testing an extraordinary new tool, Google Local Search. The test is limited to sites from the United States but, if and when Google introduces this feature internationally, it could pose a serious challenge to the publishers of local Yellow Pages directories.

Results from Google Local Search are divided into three column. The first shows the name and phone number of listings. The second column shows the street address. The third column is the most interesting as it displays the website the listing was culled from along with a link to related sites. As a Canadian and a child of the 1980′s, one of the only US zip codes I know by heart is “90210″. As a 14 hour a day IT worker, one of the most important uses of the Yellow Pages is finding a good pizza delivery. Combining the two produced this list.

Search is the gateway and guidepost to the Internet. Over the past five years, the business of search has changed from a model resembling a friendly but very well built lemonade stand to the current state of monolithic but often dysfunctional empires built by and around today’s big three (MSN, Google and Yahoo). With tens of billions of dollars at stake, competition between the big three has turned into an all-out business war, the casualties of which are jobs, cool technologies, and ultimately, the current wild-west atmosphere of the Internet. When the dust settles, finding what you are looking for may be a bit more difficult and expensive. There will likely be a major decrease in search options by this time next year and what does exist will likely cost you, unless you are interested in finding information that has been pre-paid for by the supplier (advertiser) as opposed to the consumer (searcher). Google is likely to retain non-paid listings as a priority but that may change if Google issues public shares through a widely expected spring-time IPO. That, however, is then and this is now. Today’s battle takes place between engineers at Overture and Google, with Overture landing a solid upper-cut in the form of Local Search proficiency. Read more…