We are currently doing some research in the local area on what people's thoughts are on local search and what features they are looking for. The results are interesting but what they mainly point out is most people are not very savvy on "local Search" as a term but they are starting to become more aware of the advantages of online local search. We find that most of our eyeballs do not come from search engines and the like as these people are not conditioned to going to the majors for local searching, even if they don't know it by that term. Instead what we find is they weren't looking for local search but when we put our marketing message in front of them they think its great.
As far as being crawled and indexd we are experiencing it to some degree and my designer is working on optimizing more for it but over the years I have come to believe that the major search engines are not going to do much for me and I don't spend alot of time worrying about them. I sure alot of people will disagree but we feel that our best stratagy is to concentrate on convential marketing in our market area.
We also don't spend alot of time worring about PPV or PPC or any of the other ways of doing this as most of our business owners don't have a clue what we are talking about and their eyes start to glaze over. We can track a specific business but we don't make a big deal of it. Instead I like to set my prices on the low side and sell the service as exposure. One more tool in the arsenal to get your business name out there if you will and not something to track down to the slightest detail. It seems to make our customers happier and saves alot of time on my part.
As far as external publishers, we operate several related sites such as dining and a metro guide site etc that work off our database. Our listings are seen across the sites that are applicable for that companies industry and we look at it as more chances for local consumers to run into us. As for other publishers we are talking to a couple other sites about using our data but I am proceeding slowly on that as I have alot of time in my data and I am slow to use it except on our sites
We are trying to become the central reference point for the area and we are working on additional features to enhance our listing while still making our directory a quick place to find a business. It can become a tightrope of added value or too much junk.
As far as promotion we have mainly marketed to the advertisers but we are starting on a new direct mail campaign along with event marketing and basic exposure marketing. I find that I don't have to do alot of selling as much as simply put our URL in front of people. As far as choosing us over someone else, there is no one with as complete a database or that maintains their database like we do in this area and in most of the midwest. As long as we continue to market we can get the users which is why I am looking for ideas and techniques other people may have come up with that we can incorporate in our program.
As you probably can tell I am not a big fan of the national IYPs as I find them horribly inaccurate and clunky to use. I have seen some improvement but I still think we outdo them. As far as the Search Engines "Local" functions I have seen several features I find interesting but I still think we can outdo them with basic local marketing and intense ongoing database upkeep. To that end we are moving into a new office shortly and I am putting a couple people on the street selling full time to see what happens
I am interested in what has worked and not worked for people in both marketing and directory features. I feel I have a good feel for what we need to do to grow but I am always looking for new ideas.
Thanks for your patience withese long posts.