Posted March 6, 2008 2:22 pm by with 7 comments

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Yahoo! has announced improvements to Yahoo Local Maps. They’ve added more data and made the maps easier to read.

Yahoo says there are more changes to come, but here are some of the changes so far:

  • New Neighborhood Data
    300 cities with new neighborhood data added throughout North America, from Palo Alto, to Chicago, to Toronto, etc.
  • More data in Eastern Europe
  • New highlighted interest points like: schools, rest areas, ski resorts, etc.
  • Additional shaded relief levels worldwide
  • City label density increased for better usability
  • Lighter map tiles – with an average of 30-60% reduction in size

Hopefully some of those changes in the future will be to improve the local business listings – adding more and refining the searches. I’m still a fan of Google Maps, because I think it’s easier to use and the results are more relevant. For example, I typed “restaurants” in Yahoo Maps and there were only six listings and one was a place that rented chocolate fountains.

Submit Your Local Business to Yahoo, Google, and MSN
If you own a local business, you can come up higher in local search results by submitting your business to Yahoo, Google, MSN, and others. Here’s where to submit your business to Yahoo Local, Google Local Business Center and MSN’s Window’s Live Local.

The Web is the New Yellow Pages
People using local search are often motivated to action – they search for a local restaurant because they want to go eat at one. They might be locals or they may be in town for a convention or on vacation. They may be searching on their PC or cell phone. Conversion rates for these types of searches are pretty high – I’ve heard 52%.

Grassroots Marketing to Get Local Businesses Online
Google has taken to the streets and hired locals (like me) to add local businesses to Google Maps. Many local dentists, optometrists, spas, photographers, and other local businesses aren’t aware of how important local search is to their business. They’re often unaware of how many potential customers they lose by not being on these listings.

Small businesses may not realize how easy it is to add their business to search results – and its free. I like Google’s grassroots approach to getting more businesses online. Since most small businesses have small advertising budgets, it’s the way most do their marketing anyway.

  • It is great that you reminded readers of the importance of posting their business information to the search engines, but there are many other equally important places they need to post as well if they are truly going to take advantage of the ranking opportunity. Specifically, online yellow pages, local data aggregators that feed the engines and vertical directories – all of which can deliver a high-profile result. But this gets complicated and time-consuming, so you might also like to mention next time that there is an industry initiative under where for a small fee you can post your information one time and it is be distributed to 20-plus sites, including all the major ones. Also, it provides a way to upload and manage all the enhanced information such as product info, brands, logo, video link, social network link, coupon link and all the other important details that some engines WANT to show about a business – all of which gets spidered.

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  • I see that adding a business to Google Maps is free, but isn’t Yahoo charging for the directory service including placement on maps?

  • @ Chris – I think this service is more focused on the functionaility and visability of placement on the maps service than a ranking opportunity. SERP is one thing, but a lot of people actually uses the maps applications to find things.

  • @ Mike – If you are not listed on ALL these sites, or not listed with the proper descriptions and terms that people queried, you may not appear at all on the maps.

  • It constantly amazes me how few local businesses know about the free listings on the major search engines. Unfortunately, articles like this are mainly read by webmasters and internet marketing professionals. Once local businesses understand how the Internet can profit their business, it will be the “Next Wave.”

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