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Yahoo local search improvements : Opportunity for lawyers and professional service firms

John Battele, a real leader on search, technology and the media, reports on improvements inYahoo local search.

…Yahoo has built in the ability for local merchants to interact directly with the listings, to create content for their businesses, and to buy premium listings.

Today Yahoo has moved the needle again, adding Local Featured Listings, a way for merchants to buy placement on results pages – it’s bascially sponsored links, but with a twist. I spoke to Paul Levine, who runs Yahoo Local, and he told me that there has been a lot of demand from local merchants to be ‘at the top of the page’ for a given result. Now, for between $20 and $300 a month, they can be.

This reminds me very much of the YP model of paying more or less for size of ad on the page, (they also pay more or less for the headers – ie and ad in Flowers is more expensive than an ad in Scuba Equipment)……

But wait, you say, this is just Overture listings, right? No, not in the end. In the end, if Yahoo is smart, this will be where local merchants advertise, not national 800 number chains. Why? Because that’s where the true value is in the YP, and that’s what should be up front. The race to win the online YP will be all about understanding how users actually USE the service. And right now, it’s Yahoo’s to lose.

Take look at how this Yahoo local search plays out for law firms in Seattle. Tell me that ain’t going to blow away the Yellow Pages.

The Yellow Pages are a dinosaur. People do not use them to find local businesses as in the past. One after another, lawyers tell me they do not get work from their yellow page ads. Yahoo is bright and innovative enough to jump on the opportunity.

The only reason the yellow page companies play any roll with Internet advertising is that they have all the business names, addresses and phone numbers. That’ll end and yellow pages as we know then for law firm and professional services firm advertising will die.

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