It’s been over a year and a half since I last covered the local pay-per-click market for Practical eCommerce. If there is one thing you can depend on, it is that this industry does not stand still. It’s definitely time to go over the latest opportunities and trends in the local pay-per-click space and ways you can apply them to your business.
Local online market is growing
The local online marketing industry is growing by leaps and bounds, but it’s still very fragmented, primarily because many portals choose to concentrate on specific topics (e.g., restaurants) or specific locations rather than trying to encompass everything. This makes sense. It’s easier to achieve critical mass working within a niche market and serving a targeted and interested audience, as opposed to trying to be all things to all people.
Unfortunately, this also means that each business needs to explore the options available specifically to them, as they will vary depending upon the industry and the location.
There are several categories of local search destinations, including:
Search Engines — Google, Yahoo, MSN, Local.com, and others now offer locally based advertising opportunities. Google is experimenting further with Google Maps, their Local Business Center, coupons, etc.
Local Guides — CitySearch.com, Yelp.com, and other portals typically provide local information via a number of categories. The key element, however, is that many use their community and social networking to add value by allowing people to read and post reviews, rate businesses, etc.
Internet Yellow Pages — YellowPages.com, SuperPages.com and most other traditional yellow pages publishers are developing an online presence. Due to well-developed brands, they attract a significant amount of targeted and quality traffic.
Niche Directories — AngiesList.com, NewYorkDoctors.com, and similar websites focus on a specific business category and/or location, which can make them good advertising avenues. More focus leads to more targeted traffic.
As a local-based business, you often have the opportunity to advertise or even receive free exposure, as many of these websites use available information to pre-fill their listings. Whether free or paid, it is important to monitor your listings to make sure that the information is relevant and up-to-date.
The growth of mobile marketing (especially with recent introductions such as the iPhone) takes browsing the Internet via mobile devices to a new comfort level for the general public, a development that will spur continued growth of the local online market. There is still time to get in on the emerging local pay-per-click market before it becomes saturated and costs rise. Anybody remember the days when you could get clicks on Google or Yahoo! for 5 cents each? Local will go the same way — it’s only a question of time.