In the ongoing battle for leadership in the search arena, the major engines have lately trained their eyes on a virtually untapped resource, local search.
Both Yahoo! and Google have configurations set up to exploit the millions of listings of small businesses in the United States. Both have similar offerings in hundreds of American cities, relying on user input to expand the breath of information and in some cases, asking for additional money from the merchants themselves for enhanced listings.
I went to Yahoo Local and found my business listing and added a bunch of information, like hours of operation, my contact email address, which credit cards I accept and then was prompted to create a free 5-page web site, which I did. You can access my Yahoo Local web site here.
The whole process took about half an hour, though I doubt most small business owners will take the time to fully implement it. There are further enhancements one can make - for a fee - but I declined for now since my business really isn't local.
This experience gave me a number of ideas for webmasters to offer further services on a local basis. Obviously, I don't have the time to explain it all here, but I'll do so in future posts.
I'll take a closer look at Google Local in the next few days