White Hot 'Local Search'

As much as 30 percent of the roughly 1.6 billion searches conducted online each week have a geographic or location-specific dimension, according to a survey of search providers recently completed by The Kelsey Group.

Attempting to tap into this market, Google and Overture have recently conducted tests of local search applications, and AOL and Yahoo! are increasingly integrating local information into general search results. In addition, earlier this year, Citysearch launched a local paid search product across its nationwide network of city guides. Other search firms, such as InfoSpace, have also said they are actively developing localized search. And some online Yellow Pages companies are seeking to reposition themselves as providers of "local search."

Fueling small business interest in paid search is the continued growth of broadband Internet access among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). According to The Kelsey Group and ConStat, Inc.'s Local Commerce Monitor (Wave VI), there has been a 60 percent increase since January 2002 in the number of local SMB advertisers with a high-speed connection. Of those, 17 percent are already using paid search advertising as part of their overall marketing mix.

"Local search has clearly become a front-burner issue for service providers and advertisers alike," said Greg Sterling, Kelsey Group managing editor. "Many small businesses were among the early adopters of paid search, but have generally been shut out by its complexity. Development of a viable local search application has the potential to not only satisfy increasing user demand for local information online, but also tap into the multi-billion dollar small business local advertising market."

Coinciding with this growing interest in local search, The Kelsey Group's upcoming Digital Directories & Interactive Local Media Summit (DD&ILM) is taking place October 22-24, at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, Alexandria, Virginia. Keynote addresses will be delivered by Jim Lanzone, senior vice president and general manager, Ask Jeeves, Inc., Marc Tellier, president and CEO, Yellow Pages Group Co. and Jim Voelker, chairman and CEO, InfoSpace, Inc.

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