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Local Search growing in importance for businessesTweet This
17 November, 2008
Before the internet, advertising for your business was very simple. You'd call the Yellow directory to organise your print advertisement and you could feel safe in knowing that you would be reaching a good majority of people looking at purchasing the types of products you sell or using the services you offer. Times have changed.
One of the major failures of Yellow and other online directories is their ability to provide users with relevant search results. With a ranking system that isn't built for usability, basing its model on delivering results for businesses that were "first in, best dressed" on the directory and businesses that have paid to appear in suburbs that their business "services", internet users are giving up on these directories as their primary information portals.
TMP Directional Marketing commissioned Comscore to conduct a study on local search user behaviour - both online and offline, examining a 3000 member US member consumer panel. The first study was in May 2007 and they have since followed up with a new study in July 2008 with the purpose being to "understand the use and value of on and offline local search sources" which include search engines, and both print and online yellow pages directories.
The study identified that online search is now the primary channel for obtaining local information.
Image Source: SearchEngineLand
In the 2008 study, the following question was asked " Which of the following activities did you do as a result of this online local business search?". This chart reflects the results:
Image Source: SearchEngineLand
The results concluded that a very high percentage of local searchers take action after their search - often making a call, or an in-store visit; which makes sense as obtaining the business address and phone number would be of high interest to the user.
Google Universal Search
Popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo! have made it incredible easy to find localised information on the internet.
Google Universal Search was launched on May 16, 2007 incorporating multiple information sources in to search results, displaying videos, maps, images and even books in search results. This change significantly changed the dynamics of online search results, and places a greater importance on providing your users with more than just text-based content. Siteflex has tipped it's hat to Google, and now provides Siteflex users with the ability to insert Google Maps (Including Google Street view) and YouTube videos on any Siteflex page.
On a local search level, Google Maps are now more prominent in geo-targeted searches eg: Dry Cleaning Liverpool. TrueLocal provides all the local business data to Google Australia for their map results, and it's critical that your business is listed in this directory. Siteflex is focused on delivering the most current technology to it's users and this is demonstrated by it's tight-knit integration with Google and important updates like Google Universal Search.
Apple iPhones and other mobile devices with in-built GPS allow for localised search results to be delivered to your current location. Google will take any opportunity to provide more relevancy to it's users, acknowledging the significance of this market trend with the launch of it's iPhone App. The Google iPhone App returns localised search results relevant to your current location. For example, if you search for a Pizza Restaurant whilst in Chatswood, the locally based restaurants in the Chatswood area will appear first in your search results.
Siteflex is looking at iPhone application development possibilities, working towards providing website management tools on your mobile, anywhere you have mobile internet access.
ConclusionThe market is moving quicker than online business directories like Yellow can keep up with, and users are consolidating all their searches to their preferred search engines - Google, Yahoo! and Ninemsn. It is important for your business to continue to remain ahead of the competition and up with the latest trends.