Local Search Meets Pay Per Call

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Like other segments of the search marketing industry, local search is growing rapidly. This can be expected because for the most part when people enter a search query they are searching for local services such as "auto repair," "exterminators," etc.

Searchers usually don't visit local search engines because they're bored and just browsing on the Internet. They usually conduct a localized search because they are in immediate need of services or products. So, a main appeal of local search for investors and advertisers alike is its built-in market.

When search engine ad provider FindWhat.com partnered with technology giant Ingenio to create the first pay-per-call advertising service -- offering advertisers a more human approach to online advertising -- a whole new phase of search was introduced.

Pay per call works much the way that pay per click does, except that in this case advertisers are charged each time a call is a result of a user clicking on the toll-free number (as opposed to the URL in a pay-per-click ad) displayed in the ad. The toll-free number, generated by the software, redirects to the advertisers' actual number and gives the business a brief message before the call is connected, alerting them that the call is a result of a pay-per-call campaign.

But ShopNTown.com Inc., a hometown directory, is attempting to merge the beauty of local search with the innovations of pay per call. ShopNTown has patents pending that bypass the toll-free number and let searchers on the ShopNTown's hometown directory click on a link that will call the business directly for no additional charge.

Once actualized, ShopNTown's service will hold even more significance than its innovation of traditional pay per call combined with local search; it will highlight the fact that search marketing is, essentially, the new "American dream" allowing even the smallest fish in the Internet pond to play ball with much bigger, and more financially capable, fish.

Though ShopNTown has a long way to go before it can rank itself with other local search services offered by names such as Google and MSN, it can offer searchers an alternative. And in the search marketing industry, an alternative can sometimes mean a lot of money.

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