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Targeting "Locals" on Search Engines

Surprisingly, 22 million small- and medium-sized businesses spend 46% of their advertising budgets on Yellow Pages marketing and allocate only 3% for search engine keywords.

If you or your clients have a click-and-mortar or brick-and-mortar business and are not taking advantage of the new local search engine marketing (SEM) programs, you are missing out on highly targeted traffic for a fraction of the price of national SEM.

A New Kelsey Group survey of 3,887 online consumers in early September revealed the following:

-- More than 74% of survey respondents said that they had conducted local searches

-- Among local search users, 27% of their total search behavior is for local information

-- Approximately 45% of local searches had a buying intent

-- The survey also found that 20% of all searches among this population are local

Google or Overture?

You can obtain local search engine traffic from Overture, Google, and Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) like SmartPages, SuperPages, and If you are just beginning a local SEM program, it is wise to start with just one Pay-Per-Click (PPC) provider - either Google or Overture - until you get a feel for your results. Here are some of the key differences between Overture and Google PPC local search programs:

-- Google is mathematically driven based on ad relevancy and cost per click (CPC) while Overture is strictly price driven

-- Google has almost an instant account set-up while Overture takes 3-5 days to set up an account

-- Google bases prices at or less than your max cost per click (CPC). Overture bases price on your bidding on the different matching levels

-- To set up an account, Google does not require a physical address, but requires a website while on Overture, no website is required, but you must have a physical address

-- Google Ads can appear on smaller sites while Overture is extremely selective with its partners and where your ads appear

-- Google allows syndication to be turned on or off so that your ad can appear in front of just Google or AOL users Since Overture drives most traffic through partner sites, they do not have a feature an on/off feature for syndication

-- Google costs only $5 to open an account while Overture costs $50 with a $20 monthly minimum spend

-- Google automatically approves ads and they will continue to appear as long as they follow guidelines. On Overture, most ads are reviewed before they appear live

Consider Your Entire Local Search Strategy

Not only can you initiate a SEM strategy for Local Search, you should also consider adding local keywords to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy in order to garner the benefits of local organic searches. Incorporating keywords like "Scottsdale", "Phoenix" or "Arizona", depending on your location, can help increase the amount of local traffic to your website.

Whether you hire an internal staff or hire a marketing firm to handle your search engine marketing, make sure that you consider Local Search as part of your search engine strategy.

Author: Christie Turley

Christie Turley is Principal of ThriveMarketing, a full-service marketing firm specializing in high-end website design, search engine optimization and PPC online advertising services. Thrive also offers traditional marketing services, including brand identity, copywriting, print design, and public relations. For more information, please visit

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