7/10/08

Getting better rankings in local search can smooth out holiday shopping

Many merchants don’t optimize their web sites to appear in local search results that show information on individual store locations—a void that could crimp holiday sales, says David Dague, vice president of marketing for Localeze.

Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Although Internet search engines have become consumers’ preferred tool for finding local retail stores, many merchants don’t optimize their web sites to appear in local search results that show information on individual store locations, says David Dague, vice president of marketing for Localeze, a provider of content management technology and services.

“Local search is a separate animal from Internet search, but many retailers don’t understand that,” Dague says.

Local search results, which may reveal the locations, available products and other information about individual stores, often rely on a mix of information sources that can be inaccurate, he adds. The information typically comes from Yellow Pages databases or from sites dedicated to a particular store and managed by local store personnel.

But Dague notes that directory listings and databases can be outdated, and spellings of a retailer’s brand names on a local store site may be different from the same brand names on the retailer’s main site (with or without an apostrophe, for example). That can result in listings of stores that are no longer open, or store locations left out of top listings-leaving shoppers, particularly during busy holiday shopping periods, continuing their search for other stores and other brands, he adds.

Research conducted earlier this year by research firm Nielsen Online and WebVisible, a provider of online advertising services, found that Internet search was the most popular method of finding local products and services, cited by 73% of consumers. The second most popular method was Yellow Pages telephone directories, at 65% of consumers; online Yellow Pages, 50%; local newspapers, 44%; white pages telephone directories, 33%; TV, 29%; direct mail, 20%; consumer review web sites, 18%; and radio, 15%.

Local search accounts for about 25% of all Internet searches, which in 2007 amounted to more than 1.7 billion local searches per month-an increase of 42% over 2006, Localeze says, citing data from comScore Inc. and DoubleClick. (DoubleClick is an online ad network owned by Google Inc.)

To help retailers ensure their local store information is accurately represented in local search results, Localeze connects its client retailers’ databases with dozens of search engines. Its fees start at $99 per month for a single location, with discounts for larger numbers of stores.

Topics:

Information technology management, Local search, Online shopping, Telephone numbers, Web search engine

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