Thanks Skier and Sanenet for getting this forum started. You raise very good questions and points, and I look forward to your continued contribution to this forum.
What I hope that we will all come to realize in the coming months is that "local search" is both a simplistic and complex proposition. The simplistic portion, I hope will be readily understood and digested. The complex portion of local search is what we will spend considerable time discussing in this forum. The local search marketplace will takes years to fully grasp - not because of our inabilities or lack of knowledge but because of the magnitude of change, innovation, and fragmentation within the local search marketplace.
Lets deal with the simple stuff first.
Every site has a target market. Each target market is by nature logically broken up into segments. This excercise is commonly referred to as target market segmentation. The criteria that one looks for in their market segmentation excercises are behavioral, demographic, and geographic characteristics of their target audience. Local search concerns itself primarily with the geographic characteristics or predispositions of a target audience.
There are two perspectives in the local search arena, one of the user and their needs, and one of the web site/advertiser and their target market. Our primary focus is going to be on the later- the web site advertiser and its target market. This portion is simple because all of us at one time or another have had to ask ourselves, who is our target market, or which type of visitor am I trying to attract to my web site.
As a webmaster, local search marketing is the process associated with defining and attracting a target audience using geographic qualifiers. For the user, local search is process of identifing and seeking out preferences that are geographic centric.
In this manner, local search is simple. It is basic marketing and most of us have been doing it for years and we can grasp those concepts easily. But it still begs into consideration: if it is so simple why all this fuss?
Well, beneath the surface, local search is littered with complexity, fragmentation, and innovation. Overtime, I will address these complex factors in detail. In doing so, I will hopefully be spurred by your inquisitions and will learn from your communications with one another. Regardless, I will personally see to it that this topic and its many permeations are fleshed out in their entirety.
Many don't even realize yet that local search affects them. This perception will change rapidly in my opinion. As the many permeations of local search touches so much of what most of us do on a daily basis.
I will likely be writing many many long threads over the coming weeks and months on the topic of local search. This is not something that I strive for, but something I feel that is necessary to spur conversation and get the heart of certain matters. Instead of going into some of those areas tonight, I will at this time try to highlight some of the issues that we will confront overtime:
-Pure Algorythmic Local Search: Google/Yahoo and others. How do your rank? What are the components of the new local search algos.
-Internet Yellow Pages: Who are they, how do they work, is there a future for them, what are the strategies for success.
-Traditional local search engine optimization. How to rank organically in the primary search facilities for local content
-Local PPC- What is Google doing from a local ppc standpoint? How about OvertureLocal and others? What is the differences in geo-qualifiers, geo-targeting, and display modes.
-Where does CitySearch, Judy's Book, CraigsList and other local search providers fit in.
-How does promixity scoring (location ranking) affect pure local search result sets.
-What place does user reviews have in local search? What can you do to control them successfully?
-Who are the data aggregators of local search, what do they mean to local search rank, and how do you control them?
-How do you select which local search inventory is right for your business given a finite budget?
-What role will local shopping engines play in the marketplace?
-How is the small business marketplace driving local search?
-How can you make money selling local search packages to your clients?
-How do you sell local search to National Accounts? How are national account utilizing local search.
-How will new local search innovation like keyhole change the perception and utility of the web?
-How will local search and mobile technology merge into useful user and advertiser tools?
-Is there a place for geo-vertical directories?
-and there is more..
Beneath the surface of local search is a complex and everchanging marketplace that is full of innovation and opportunity. This forum will surely get to it all overtime, and I will do my best to lead the way with your help and participation.
I thank all of you for your contributions to WebmasterWorld, and I look forward to your contributions to this forum.