Where Search Meets Social

Someone just asked me to explain MyLocally, and I immediately said “It is merging of Local Search and Social” (a slogan in the making somewhere).. The person said “Oh cool”, then said, “But what does that mean?”  To which I replied “Well, it is the best of everything ‘hot’ in Internet Marketing; social media, reviews, e-business and deals”.

Here I was trying to explain what we were creating, and while I can’t let out all the secrets, I thought I would attempt to define what “it is” by defining all the components in this revolutionary new product.

 I work for eLocal Listing, so I have to start with Local Search:

A Local Search is performed when someone uses a local search engine (or online directory) to find products or services in a particular area.

With Local Searches, the user enters “what” they are looking for (such as keywords, business name, consumer product, or business category), and geographical information indicating “where” (street address, city, country, zip code) they want to find it.

Once the query has been submitted, search engines (or directories) return results closely matching the inquiry.  The closer the better!

 OK, one down – five to go; Social Media:

The phrase ‘Social Media’ is being tossed around a lot these days, and when people hear the phrase, they think Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Linkedin. But Social Media is (or should be) defined with a broader brush stroke to include Social Book Marking, Social News, Blogs, Photos, Video Sharing, Wikis, Google+, and the list goes on.

I am going to try to paraphrase a definition of Social Media in this way: Social Media is an online platform or network that creates a two-way street (and in many cases much more) that gives users of an online community the ability to participate in online activity.

Next is Internet Yellow Pages or IYPs:

The “Dinosaur” of print advertising resurrected itself in the 90s as an Internet Yellow Pages or IYPs.  Like their print counterparts, IYPs are directories where businesses are listed and categorized so that consumers can easily find a business listing.

The best examples are SuperPages, Yellowpages.com, Merchant Circle, Dexonline, and Local.com.

Blogs, images, videos and more:

It is impossible to define these, and you know what they are anyway. I can tell you this – lots of us start blogs and few of us follow up and update them, but search engines love them. They are a great way to promote a business, expand your brand, and reach your targeted audience. We got ‘em, and you’ll love them!

Videos- I remember when we announced that we would be including videos on our profile pages, it was revolutionary at the time, probably not as much now, but nothing tells a story like a video.  Sure there is Vimeo, but there is no one like YouTube.  YouTube announced in May 2011 that it had hit 3 billion views per day! Not sure that any of ours will go viral; but we will use the power of video … how did that song go? “Video killed the radio star..” Ok, showing my age.

Images- A picture is worth a thousand words. You have heard of Flickr and Panoramio; uploading, commenting on, sharing and viewing images is part of our Internet experience.

Reviews – We live and die by the sword.. Not sure why I just said that, but the reality is that reviews are becoming increasingly more important to businesses.  The old word of mouth recommendations from friends of friends of friends has been replaced with reviews.  Even Clark Howard on CNN (who I watch at 4am each day!) told me to check out Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and Kudzu reviews before bringing my car to an auto repair company.  Why he didn’t mention Google Reviews I don’t know, but I may just change my opinion of him when he recommends viewers to check out MyLocally reviews.

Check out these stats – Yelp is now reporting 50 million users a month and boasts 17 million reviews.  Customer reviews have the biggest impact on the decision to buy: 90 percent of people said reviews have an impact on their decision; 60 percent say they are the most important factor.

 Deals -  OK, I have to admit I hate them, am not sure I really understand how to use them, and am overwhelmed by the amount of email I get about deals and coupons.  Now I must also confess that I was never a coupon cutter, and that my Money Mailer, Valu-Pack and Local Community deals always went straight into the trash. So I wasn’t part of the old coupon/deal phenomena, why would I think I would be part of the new world of online deals and coupons?

But the reality is that Google felt a certain coupon site was worth 5.3 billion dollars, and LivingSocial recently announced that they plan to raise $1 billion in an IPO. Those stats and these numbers speak for themselves: 50+ million subscribers to Groupon, 22 million Groupons sold in North America and $980 million saved in North America.

I do admit I love the way that they build the community of sharing and promoting deals – I like it a lot!  (Hint, Hint!)

So that is us … well all that and more … like climbing the wall, badges and more …

So that is mylocally.com – pretty exciting huh?

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Seasonal Search Trends

eLocal Listing provides Local Search solutions to over 100,000 small businesses nationwide, so it would be fair to say we know a thing or two about Local Search.   We understand that many businesses see a fluctuation in seasonal demand for their product or services.  As a result, when consulting with these customers we often utilize Google’s Insight trending tool and we also have a program that allows businesses to only pay for calls.  This program means that businesses don’t need to incur the cost of marketing/advertising in lean months. 

Another guy who knows a thing or two about Local Search is Andrew Shotland whose blog Loc@l SEO Guide is read by many and is seen as one of the premiere blogs on the subject of Local Search.  In Andrew’s most recent article he posts a calendar of the industries and products that get the most local searches. 

According to this calendar back to school shopping for supplies and apparel top the list for July – September 15th, with events, party supplies, and travel dominate local searches from July through mid September.  It certainly seems logical and it makes sense that savvy business owners should target their marketing around these key phrases by updating content, writing blogs, purchasing paid online marketing campaigns and participating in Social Media.

Come to think of it – Halloween is around the corner – I think maybe I will call our friends at Frisco’s Halloween Shop in La Puente, CA and remind them that costume buying season is upon us.

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