Search engines have sought to increase their advertiser base by moving aggressively into providing directory information. Applications such as Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Maps have introduced disruptive technology to local directory information by mashing up maps with directory listings, reviews/ratings, satellite images, and 3D modeling—all tied together with keyword search relevancy. This area of search is still in a lot of flux as evolutionary changes continue to come hard and fast. However, these innovations have excited users, and the mapping interfaces are growing in popularity as a result.
Despite rapid innovation in search engine technology, the local information market is still extremely fractured. There is no single dominant provider of local business information on the Internet. According to industry metrics, online users are typically going to multiple sources to locate, research, and select local businesses. Traditional search engines, local search engines, online Yellow Pages, newspaper websites, online classifieds, industry-specific “vertical” directories, and review sites are all sources of information for people trying to find businesses in their area.
This fractured nature of online local marketing creates considerable challenges for organizations, whether they’re a small mom and pop business with only a single location or a large chain store with outlets across the country.
Yet, success in these efforts is critical. The opportunity ...