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The key point: it must be linked to by latitude and longitude (as that's what I have), not city/state, zip etc. For the US or Canada initially, although I'm interested in this for any country.
Most of the hotel and all the YP services I've found don't work with just lat/long coordinates (and the hotel ones tend to be very inaccurate).
There are work-arounds (find nearest zip centroid, do search by zip) but for a small area (and non-US) a true geographic search is needed.
Are you looking to monetize local search result sets to sit ontop/beside *your* local search results?
Essentially yes, although what my search results show are locations of widgets, plus certain things near them. I'd like to have links to extra services that people may want related to the widget location, such as nearby hotels or just a YP. I only have lat/long for each widget, not city names (as they are not all in cities).
Do you have a substantive amount of traffic?
Not at this stage, it's in development with a subset of data and at the stage of finding out what is possible, barely 10,000 impressions per day.
What providers have you spoken to?
I use a WP/YP provider on another site, but they don't have a lat/long search (and the city/state search doesn't have radius search). I've looked at various hotel affiliates but haven't yet found one that has suitable links and accurate data (e.g. they often get the sign wrong on lat/long!).
Why should a third-party ad feed have to match your long/lat. results?
That's the only search key I have -- and would seem to be the only suitable key for a local search that covers multiple countries. Seems logical for any local search really, since cities, zips, pointing on a map etc can first be translated to lat/long, but the other direction is fuzzy.
Sounds like a problem we had with an Airport site. They too are out of town and would return non-local results if you just used the town they served. As there was a pre-defined number of locations, we decided to manually check the best locality to use for each. It worked a treat but it was time intensive (thankfully the amount of people using airports makes it worthwhile).
If you have a reasonable amount of coordinates to check then I would create a list of geographical identifiers. This would be nearest zip, nearest small locality, nearest town, nearest city, county, etc...
If you have too many, or it's a small niche then I would consider taking a hit on relevance and using a less accurate, but faster, automated conversion.
They too are out of town and would return non-local results if you just used the town
Yes, it's a similar case, although in most cases I don't know the town name (until I do a nearby search).
I did try automating using the nearest town to use on city/state search links, but then I found the (large) list of towns that I have is rarely going to be the same as others use, as most are incomplete or subjective. So I was getting a lot of "city not found". This is even more the case outside the US. My number of locations is too large for a manual solution.
I'll carry on developing the site and see what becomes available in the next year or two. I think it's only a matter of time before geographic searches are available (with affiliate programs) for most data that is related to specific points (such as YP listings).
robho, you are right on target. your thinking is very sound. i will try to sit down and write my views later. there are others that are hanging around here that are quite familiar with this topic as well. i hope they can share.