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Local Internet Marketing

Local search is the use of specialized Internet search engines that allow users to submit geographically constrained searches against a structured database of local business listings. Typical local search queries include not only information about "what" the site visitor is searching for (such as keywords, a business category, or the name of a consumer product) but also "where" information, such as a street address, city name, postal code, or geographic coordinates like latitude and longitude. Examples of local searches include "Hong Kong hotels", "Manhattan restaurants", and "Dublin Hertz". Local searches exhibit explicit or implicit local intent. A search that includes a location modifier, such as "Bellevue, WA" or "14th arrondissement", is an explicit local search. A search that references a product or service that is typically consumed locally, such as "restaurant" or "nail salon", is an implicit local search.

Local search sites are primarily supported by advertising from businesses that wish to be prominently featured when users search for specific products and services in specific locations. Local search advertising can be highly effective because it allows ads to be targeted very precisely to the search terms and location provided by the user.

Local search is the natural evolution of traditional off-line advertising, typically distributed by newspaper publishers and TV and radio broadcasters, to the Web. Historically, consumers relied on local newspapers and local TV and radio stations to find local product and services. With the advent of the Web, consumers are increasingly using search engines to find these local products and services online. In recent years, the number of local searches online has grown rapidly while off-line information searches, such as print Yellow Page lookups, have declined. As a natural consequence of this shift in consumer behavior, local product and service providers are slowly shifting their advertising investments from traditional off-line media to local search engines.

A variety of search engines are currently providing local search, including efforts backed by the largest search engines, and new start-ups. Some of these efforts are further targeted to specific vertical segments while others are tied to mapping products. Various geolocation techniques may be used to match visitors' queries with information of interest. The sources and types of information and points of interest returned varies with the type of local search engine.

Google Maps (formerly Google Local) looks for physical addresses mentioned in regular web pages. It provides these results to visitors, along with business listings and maps. Product-specific search engines] use techniques such as targeted web crawling and direct feeds to collect information about products for sale in a specific geographic area.

Other local search engines adjunct to major web search portals include general Windows Live Local, Yahoo! Local, and ask.com's AskCity. Yahoo!, for example, separates its local search engine features into Yahoo! Local and Yahoo! Maps, the former being focused on business data and correlating it with web data, the latter focused primarily on the map features (e.g. directions, larger map, navigation). Search engines offer local businesses the possibility to upload their business data to their respective local search databases.

Local search, like ordinary search, can be applied in two ways. As John Battelle coined it in his book "The Search," search can be either recovery search or discovery search. This perfect search also has perfect recall – it knows what you’ve seen, and can discern between a journey of discovery – where you want to find something new – and recovery – where you want to find something you’ve seen before.

This applies especially to local search. Recovery search implies, for example, that a consumer knows who she is looking for (i.e., Main Street Pizza Parlor) but she does not know where they are, or needs their phone number. Discovery search implies that the searcher knows, for example, what she wants but not who she needs it from (i.e., pizza on Main Street in Springfield). In February 2012, Google announced that they made 40 changes to their search algorithm, including one codenamed "Venice" which Google states will improve local search results by "relying more on the ranking of (Google's) main search results as a signal" meaning local search will now rely more on organic SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).