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Yahoo Upgrades Local Search

Improving the visibility of a business for local customers can require very different tools to those for improving its profile more generally. For some businesses, local customers are the ones who matter most; therefore, it is good news that Yahoo has now upgraded its local search facility and brought it more in line with those offered by competitors.

“When it comes to searching for local content, we know you want to take action,” says Yahoo. “If you’re checking out a restaurant, you want to peruse the menu, see if it’s open, and maybe make a reservation. If you’re looking for a new dentist, you want to know whether the office near you is accepting new patients, and if they take your insurance.” Accordingly, Yahoo has made space for a lot more details, including a description – roughly 70 words in length – telling potential customers what a selected local business is like. There is also room for the full address and telephone number, an email address, and notes on useful things such as whether there is parking available. Businesses are sorted into categories and the exact information they are invited to add varies accordingly.

In addition to the text information in these results, there is a new, larger map that remains present if the user clicks through to view further information such as directions; there is also room for three photos. This means an external view of the premises can be added to make it easier for customers to find their way there, while the other two spaces can be used for internal views, images of welcoming staff, or logos or product shots, depending on the impression the business is trying to create.

The upgrade is designed to work across multiple platforms and should simplify the search experience for users. Most businesses owners setting up their profiles on it should find it fairly intuitive, as it borrows heavily from Google’s local search results set-up. As in that context, what is important is staying focused on why the business should be the first choice for local customers rather than on what is impressive about it more generally. Most local searches are made hours or even minutes before users intend to purchase, so a focus on immediate appeal – through things such as low prices, reference to positive recommendations or ease of access – can make a big impact. Updating a Yahoo profile does not take long and is well worth the effort now that the expanded options are becoming available.

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