Local search is on everyone's mind

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Local search is a hot topic these days. At a panel at SES Chicago, experts talked about the various ways that marketers have tapped into this hyped arena.

Stacy Williams, managing partner at Prominent Placement Inc., talked about the methods that marketers have used to get their Web sites into local listings.

"We all know that to get into the main search results it is key to optimize one's site using geo-targeted search terms," Ms. Williams said. "As for getting listed in local and map results, adding the physical address to the bottom of every page is a good strategy."

She also said that many businesses have been submitting their profiles directly.

Before submitting your site, be prepared with the following information: company name, address, phone, fax, toll-free phone number, contact person, e-mail address and Web site URL.

The big players in local search are Google, Yahoo Local and MSN's Amacai.

The big players of the local-only search engines are Local.com and TrueLocal. The popular Internet yellow pages sites are Suprpages.com, yelowpages.com and Switchboard.

Ms. Williams said that businesses should consider local search because they can be found by local prospects, ensure online data is accurate and complete, build link to their site and dominate search engine results pages.

Patricia Hursh, president of SmartSearch Marketing, Boulder, CO, talked about local search advertising options.

Local keyword picking is one and it is the most basic, matching keywords with queries.

Next is geo-targeted campaigns, where the search engine reads your IP address, determines where you are and the results listed are specific to your area.

A campaign on local search engines is the submission of your site to a local search engine.

Lastly, there is the option of ads on map results, displaying your ads when the region your business belongs to is queried.

"It is key to combine all three, maximizing the chance to have your site clicked on," Ms. Hursh said.

Local search will dominate search over the next ten years, said Justin Sanger, president of LocalLaunch.

"Local search has given birth to a new kind of savvy consumer," Mr. Sanger said. "This consumer goes beyond needs based on look-up and uses local search deep into the buying cycle."

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