As more and more local information pours onto the web, finding successful ways to synthesize this data into a coherent strategy can make or break a local marketing campaign. In a webinar on Tuesday YP‘s Sanjay Sood and Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide talked about the evolving local data ecosystem as well as the growing opportunities for marketers to leverage these new datasets to buttress existing local marketing efforts.
Shotland pointed to Amazon, and its deep understanding of consumer behavior, as a model for where local search is heading: “This [deep contextual] data that Amazon leverages is more and more available to local search markets because there’s a plethora of services and datasets available now,” he added.
But developing those more advanced opportunities starts with navigating an already complex business information ecosystem, which both speakers said remains a challenge and opportunity for marketers.
“One of things that’s apparent is that [managing business information] is a big and complex problem,” said Sood. “It’s very fragmented and there’s a lot of different sources of truth and it’s complex in terms of creating value to the consumer.”
While companies like Yelp and Foursquare have built datasets on top of user-generated content, Sood believes merchant-generated content (MGC) — where a business manages his or her own information — should play a big role in advancing business data moving forward. Both speakers agree that the ability for business owners to update information in real-time through platforms like Yext or SinglePlatform will open new opportunities to create rich and time-sensitive content to display to consumers during the discovery process.
“We’re living in an age where more and more devices are showing the Internet — everything from Apple Maps and product search engines to Google Glass,” said Shotland about the need for marketers to develop engaging business content. “Figuring out how to convince companies to display the data that you want is going to be a critical strategy for local search, particularly with mobile.”
In addition to driving richer business information, the speakers also highlighted behavioral data as a point of focus for local marketers moving forward. Sood pointed to display retargeting — where users who searched for a particular product or service on YP we’re shown corresponding display ads across the companies network of affiliate publishers — as a valuable tool for marketers. They also highlighted applications like Closely’s Perch (which monitor competitors’s marketing activity) as effective ways for businesses to leverage behavioral data.
Shotland stressed that social will gain steam in local over the next 12 months as Google Plus’s role in search results evolves and new initiatives from Facebook start to make an impact in the local space.
“Facebook graph search is where things are going in local search, inasmuch as it allows you to make local queries and refine by social data,” said Shotland, who expects the service to start making an impact by the end of 2013. ” If anything the launch of graph search, should be a reminder that there’s gold to be mined there.”
Steven Jacobs is deputy editor at Street Fight.