In Local Search, 'Other' Leads The Pack

According to comScore, there are only two local search sites that capture more than 20% of the local search market share -- and Two more sites, when combined, capture just over 30% market share -- Yahoo and Google.

So what is the fifth largest local search site? It's "other", or all other local search properties that compete for traffic at the three largest search engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Trying to make sense of all the statistics and market share analyses can be complicated, given the different definitions used to measure a visitor or from where a visitor originates. For example, if I perform a search with a local modifier at Yahoo and click on an organic link that leads me to, which site gets credit? I make this point only because the data referenced above goes against traditional thinking and other widely used local search market statistics.

To keep it simple and put it into perspective, consider that there are about 10 or so local search sites that capture close to 70% of the local search market share and literally hundreds of thousands of other local search sites that capture the remaining 30%.

"Hundreds of thousands?" you ask. "No way!" you say, but it's true. Try a search at Google, Yahoo or MSN for any service or product attached to a geo-modifier, and the results will probably be the same -- a lesser-known local or vertical directory site that competes with the much larger IYPs. A search for "Denver Auto Repair" for instance, turns up at or near the very top of the page every time.

Let's face it: there are two primary ways to drive traffic. Either you buy it in one form or another (e.g., clicks, marketing, advertising, etc.), or you optimize your site to compete effectively within the organic search engine results. The tactic a particular site chooses is generally decided by the means in which it generates revenue-whether selling local advertising, leveraging traffic, lead generation or Google Ad Sense. The ability to drive traffic through strong optimization has created significant opportunities for local search engine startups that have viable consumer utility or simply create a compelling user experience.

Sites like and have achieved both angles and offer a compelling experience, in which users can view numerous high-quality pictures, detailed home data and neighborhood information. The rich information provided by sites like these speaks to the heart of the opportunity and is another reason why 30% of local search is comprised of sites outside the top 10 properties. Their founders understood that local search is not a purely sales-driven process, but rather that it is primarily driven by consumer preferences.

Zillow, Trulia and countless other sites and applications are leveraging local content to deliver a compelling local search experience for the consumer. But how does a local restaurateur or plumber ensure his or her business' listing information is available throughout the growing list of online local search properties, not to mention on mobile and emerging social applications for local search? The challenging part of this emerging dynamic in the local search marketing space for businesses is tackling the laborious, time consuming and nearly impossible task of enhancing, distributing and then managing local business content across the huge spread of ever-growing local search engine properties.

Apple recently announced users have downloaded over 60 million iPhone applications. On the first page in the "Search Tools" category, 25% of the applications were leveraged local search or geo-specific shopping. In short order, this is solid proof that the solution for businesses looking to keep up with this burgeoning trend in online local search is to make sure that their local content is being distributed and managed across the widest network of local search engine properties possible. In local search, "other" doesn't seem to be the outlier anymore.

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