There is a post on local search over at Search Engine Land recounting what the big boys of local search are talking about at the conference. It begins with:
Huge market, huge confusion, huge challengesâ€”that could summarize discussion on the Meet the Local Search Engines panel
They talk about content as the major issue and argue about the solutions; but that isn’t the problem. There is plenty of content in the local space you just can’t find it… why?
There is so little SEO in Local.
As much as people rebuff SEO, the local space proves that SEO provides a critical function in the usability of the web.
Content is the issue? I’ve been in local since 1997 and I remember the days when few small businesses had a web site but it’s just not true anymore. There are dozens of local sites in nearly every line of business in every region now. The problem is search engines can’t find them.
The navigation is almost always Home, Services, About Us, & Contact Us and the only unique content in most of them is their name. Think how much more satisfying local search would be if SEOs played a larger role in development.
As for “huge confusion”, here’s where the confusion is: 3 out of every 4 local searches is done on a search engine, and search engines can’t find the appropriate sites to return because they have not been optimized for search and nobody is willing to admit that. Because it would mean admitting that SEO is good… and the big boys are not going to do thay… at least not until they can figure out a way to monetize it.