Hyperlocal Is Happening

Traditional news outlets are looking closer to home for ways to remain competitive, and in some cases, to survive. Many of these newspapers and television and radio stations are latching on to a trend of going “hyperlocal” with their content—serving the information needs of local neighborhoods or communities—as a way to counter the problems of falling ad revenue, shrinking subscription/viewership/listener bases, and rising costs.

The catch is that, so far, a hyperlocal focus of content isn’t being backed by a hyperlocal breakthrough in ad sales.

Forrester Research‘s recent report entitled “Is Hyperlocal Hype or Happening?” found a “disconnect between the source consumers rely on for local news and information versus those they rely on for business listings.” The majority of these consumers are still using traditional means of locating the goods and services they desire.

The report discovered that 74 percent of offline consumers and 66 percent of online consumers still turn to the Yellow Pages directory for local business listings. Meanwhile, the report found Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) results were almost identical to Internet search engines with 31 percent of online consumers using IYP to find listings for local businesses versus 34 percent using search engines.

These results reinforce the Yellow Pages’ historic positioning as the primary source for local business listing information.

To be sure, concerns about lagging local advertising isn’t slowing mainstream news outlets from moving forward with a hyperlocal strategy. Early innovators such as the Journal-World (www2.ljworld.com) in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver (YourHub.com) have led the way for established media companies to see hyperlocalism as a way to win back readers and to target mom-and-pop advertisers who can’t afford to, or simply don’t want to, reach every household in a region.

Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, and the Chicago Tribune (Triblocal.com) have also entered the field. And just last month, the Dallas Morning News rolled out 61 community websites carrying content specifically geared toward each of those communities.

Newspapers aren’t the only ones looking to a hyperlocal approach to improve their product. Yellow Pages providers also are drilling deeper into communities and becoming even more localized and targeted.

The latest step forward comes as R.H. Donnelly launches its new DexKnows IYP platform. The site’s features take local search to the next level, allowing searches by neighborhood or by landmark.

Want to find a dry cleaner in the Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle? How about pizzerias near Coors Field in Denver? The new platform can handle the job, and it can do so in a more intuitive fashion than other local search or IYP sites.

The new DexKnows IYP platform also can differentiate between businesses with fixed locations (your typical retail store) and those based on service areas (the handyman who works a set region). Thus, a search for a heating and cooling company or a plumber who serves your neighborhood won’t simply bring up those located the closest to you, but those who can make house calls in your area.

As IYPs continue to upgrade and advance, the biggest gains seem set to come from becoming increasingly localized and targeted. Those of us in the local search industry will tell you, hyperlocal is definitely not hype. Hyperlocal is happening. And it’s happening in some interesting places.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Local Search Column

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About The Author: brings nearly three decades of Yellow Pages and local search experience, as Director of Research for the Yellow Pages Association (YPA). Larry spearheads and advises on all association-driven research activities for the industry, as well as blogs about the industry on the InsideYP blog.

Connect with the author via: Email



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  • http://www.barrieadams.co.uk Barrie Adams

    Win for local search optimisers.

  • http://www.RandMediaGroup.com ryanevans

    dexKnows is pretty unimpressive and has zero brand recognition when it comes to local search. i have never heard anyone one say..”oh yeah i just went to dexknows.” i’m curious to know how the industry plans to compete with google and the million other companies that are going after local search (and doing a better job).

    the only thing going for the YP industry is that it has a significant local sales force and current relationships with local businesses. the problem is that local businesses are realizing that the ROI on traditional YP is turning negative and they are jumping ship. this trend is accelerating in this economy. when local businesses flee, they don’t look to the YP for online solutions. you don’t hear about anything on dexknows, you hear about it on facebook, twiiter, yelp etc. and more importantly you don’t “dexknows it” you “google it.”

  • http://www.HelloMetro.com clarksc3

    We typically do not get coverage by major news but here is our story. HelloMetro is eight years old and with over 4 million uniques visitors a month, we have been doing HyperLocal for years. We actually have the copyright on HyperLocal. We have allow visitors to drill down and search at the neighborhood (or Zip) level for over a year.

    We now have over 15 writers (50 by year end) in various cities covering Hyperlocal events, attractions and new. We use Journalism graduate and former Newspaper reporters to do the stories.

    http://www.hellometro.com/News.cfm

    Thank you,
    Clark Scott
    CEO, HelloMetro Inc.

  • Matt McGee

    I just gave a presentation on hyperlocal blogging at SMX West last week, showing some of the successes my wife and I have had in getting local search traffic to real estate blogs on extremely long-tail local queries. There is a huge opportunity here, I believe. I’m not sure the TV & newspapers are gonna be able to take advantage of it, unless they can get people down in the trenches to give them content. I think the jury is out on that.

    Clark – would be glad to make a connection with you and chat further on this. Reach me via HyperlocalBlogger.com if interested.

  • http://www.frankthinking.com FrankReed

    Does anyone else have trouble with the 34% number using search engines for finding information? The Center for Media Research just put that number at 82%. I realize that is for all searches (not just local) but I suspect that those numbers can’t be that far off on the local level. I am willing to be wrong on this but the disparity seems kinda large to me.

    I suppose, too, I have to look at this whole post with the knowledge that it was written by a representative of the Yellow Pages Association and take if from there.

  • http://www.RandMediaGroup.com ryanevans

    FrandReed…exactly. I smell some funny numbers.

  • http://www.thedeets.com edkohler

    Dexknows search sounds great in theory, but falls flat in practice for me. For example, I searched for [dry cleaner longfellow minneapolis] on Dexknows. This provided two duplicate results in the top 4 results and 5 of the top-9 are more than 10 miles away from my home. This makes no sense since I live smack dab in the middle of a 2,000,000+ population metro area where dry cleaners are everywhere.

    Essentially, I have no confidence in the results.

    And, as you can probably expect, Google does a better job with the same search.

 

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