Shimon Sandler

Local Search: Google vs. Yahoo

Local Search is getting a lot of attention lately. Recent market research indicates that Local Search, and Vertical Search is going to be the way the majority of people use Search in the not too distant future. So, I figured it’d be a good idea to outline the basic differences between the two biggest players in the Paid Local Search space. They are Google Local Targeting, and Yahoo Local Sponsored Search. Both are based on a Pay Per Click ( PPC) business model.

Google Local Targeting
1) Part of your Adwords account – no need to open a new account. Just create a new campaign.
2) Regional Targeting is possible (state, city, metro area, radius from address, customizable polygon).
3) You must have a website.
4) Physical location is not required.
5) Ad serving based on IP address (IP Mapping). Google knows where you are based on your IP address.

Yahoo Local Sponsored Search
1) Separate account (Login) from Sponsored Search. You must create a whole new account with Yahoo.
2) Website is optional (they have a hosted “Locator Page”). This is an advantage for brick & mortar businesses / services.
3) Physical address is required. This is disadvantage for web-based businesses.
4) One targeting option (based on radius from address of 0.5 miles to 100 miles)

Market Share of Local Searches
• Google Sites — 43.7%
• Yahoo! Sites — 28.2%
• MSN — 13.7%
• AOL/Time Warner Network — 7.5%
• Ask — 5.5%
• InfoSpace Network — 0.9%
• Lycos, Inc. — 0.3%
Source: comScore, August 2005

The smaller PPC engines will produce less traffic / clicks. However, they are worth a test, because even though they produce less clicks, they might be more profitable by outperforming the bigger search engines.

I hope this brief analysis helps you decide which Local Search engine is best for your specific situation.

Postscript: I was speaking with Greg Hartnett from the Web Directory, Best of the Web. And I asked him if he if thinks the increase in local search will have any effect on Directory search? He said, “ Absolutely, we have seen a spike in submissions to the regional categories. People are really beginning to take notice of the local aspect of listings and search.�

I also touched base with Greg Sterling to ask his opinion, and he told me, “some people will navigate directly to “vertical” sites (e.g., craigslist) but in many or most cases I think people will discover vertical sites through search. I do think the advertiser gets a much more qualified lead in a vertical environment generally speaking because the consumer is either more serious or closer to a purchase decision. But I think it’s hard to make broad generalizations because consumer behavior is convoluted and complicated.â€?

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