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Yahoo Bolsters Local Search Business Listings

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Yahoo has quietly expanded its local business listings and rolled out a service that gives businesses control over their listings in Yahoo Local through a new content inclusion program.

A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members goes into detail about Yahoo's new enhanced local listings, including a complete description of the additional features available, how they're used in both merchant information pages and in local search results and how to add or enhance an existing enhanced search listing.Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Just two months after its official launch, Yahoo Local now offers more than 15 million listings for U.S. based business. Yahoo has compiled these listings using several different sources of information, including web crawls, feeds from information providers and other sources.

While Yahoo has long had a generic form available for businesses to add or suggest edits to a listing, the new Yahoo Local Listings service gives business owners much more say regarding the content of local listings.

"It's part of our ongoing effort to bring content into the product, both in terms of number of listings, but perhaps more importantly to expand the depth of content," said Paul Levine, General Manager, Yahoo Local.

Yahoo Local Listings now come in two flavors. Basic listings, which I described when Yahoo launched the beta version of the service, include name, address, phone number, and other relevant information that Yahoo has pulled together from the various sources that it scours to compile listings.

With a basic listing, a business can opt to appear in up to five categories in the Yahoo Local directory. In addition, Yahoo attempts to identify a link to the company's web site, operating hours and descriptions of services provided or products sold. Basic listings are free to any U.S. based business.

Enhanced listings allow businesses to include additional information, which appears directly beneath basic listing information under the heading "More About [business name”" (here's a screen shot). "Enhanced listings in our mind are equivalent to the bold inline listing in the yellow pages," said Levine.

Enhanced listings features include a company tagline, description, promotional links to the business' web site and allow the inclusion of up to ten photographs.

Enhanced listings cost $9.95 per month, with no cost-per-click fees, unlike the cost-per-click fees associated with Yahoo/Overture's Site Match paid inclusion program for web content.

Yahoo says that enhanced listings are treated exactly the same as basic listings in terms of relevance ranking in search results, and will not get an added boost because of the fee.

In addition to giving business owners more control over listings, Yahoo is encouraging users to help improve the local service. Even if you don't own a business, if you know of one that you feel should be listed, or believe information for a currently listed business is inaccurate, Yahoo wants to hear about it. Simply use the Yahoo Local Update form to send details to Yahoo Local's editorial staff. Your suggestion will be reviewed, and if information you provide about the business can be verified it will likely be added to the service.

Levine believes that with the enhanced content offerings available in Yahoo Local, users will increasingly become more sophisticated in their searching.

"We really do think that as more content comes in users will get more precise in what they're searching for," he said. Rather than simply searching for "Atlanta restaurants," for example, Levine says he expects users to use more specific queries such as "Marietta steak and seafood casual dining." As more additional content is added to Yahoo local, these types of narrow queries will produce increasingly better results.

Want to discuss or comment on this story? Join the A New Content Inclusion Program at Yahoo Local discussion in the Search Engine Watch forums.

A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members goes into detail about Yahoo's new enhanced local listings, including a complete description of the additional features available, how they're used in both merchant information pages and in local search results and how to add or enhance an existing enhanced search listing.Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

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