More on Panama’s Geotargeting

It’s an all Yahoo! morning here apparently. Barry at SEL points to a Patricia Hursh column (part II, here’s part I) on geotargeting on the new Yahoo! Panama platform.

Local is one of the factors that can boost an advertiser’s quality score in Yahoo! Search Marketing.

Patricia discusses the challenges of “cracking” the SMB market:

Lack of Small Business Awareness

Local Listings are a unique and valuable product. The flat fee and simplified approach are significant differentiators and could go a long way toward establishing Yahoo as the clear leader in local search.

So why don’t more small businesses know about this highly effective option? Certainly, there’s been some promotion, such as Yahoo’s recent First Month Free incentive. But most local businesses still don’t have a clue about their search advertising options.

Engaging the Local Market

Just how should search engines promote their local ad products to the 22 million small businesses in America? Many believe it will require much more simplified products and a significant “feet on the street” effort, such as the formidable sales forces employed by newspaper and yellow pages firms.

I was talking about this lack of promotion recently with Grant Crowell of Grantastic Designs. He has another idea. Grant suggested Yahoo sponsor local search seminars in various cities across America and enlist the help of local business organizations and local search marketing experts to spread the word and bring credibility to these events. Crowell has conducted similar sessions in various cities with success, but apparently Yahoo didn’t take him up on the idea (with a notable exception). The challenge is that each search network wants to focus this type of event on their products only. To be truly effective, however, the session would need to provide tips and advice on all types of local search marketing methods.

Will local search advertising ever be as well understood as newspaper or yellow page ads? It’s just a matter of time. Won’t it be nice when the next local business owner you meet at a cocktail party wants to discuss Yahoo Local Listings?

Search engines certainly haven’t cracked the small business marketing code yet. Stay tuned.

I think we may see some radical stuff later this year or early next around self-service. But for the majority of the market it’s going to be a patchwork of traditional media players and third parties that bring SMBs into online generally and paid-search in particular. But lots more on that later.

Patricia is one of the perennial panelists (along with Stacey Williams and the incomparable Justin Sanger) on the SES Local Search Marketing Tactics panel, which I now moderate and will again in NY in April.


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