Local.com Joins the Webification Trend

Today, online local search destination Local.com launched a free version of its Local Promote. The full version is $39.95, which lets businesses create a landing page and choose between various distribution, pay-per-click and featured placement options.

The new free version will have the basic functionality of posting and updating business name, description and contact info in a basic listing. The key here is that this is a move to make it easier for more small businesses to get online with a simple landing page. Then the upselling can begin.

This is very much in line with a growing trend in the local search marketplace which we’ve explored in a past SearchDay article, known as the webification of SMBs. This is based on the premise that a majority small businesses don’t currently have a web presence. A growing number of those are coming around, but for the many borderline cases, a free offering can sway them to start a basic landing page or micro site.

Once they’re on board, they are hoped to evolve into paid marketers. That could involve subscription services like Local Promote, featured placement, or paid search (in the case of Google’s and Yahoo!’s free landing page services among others).

I was able to sit down with Local.com VP of Marketing Jennifer Black and COO Bruce Crair during SES New York, who both endorsed this strategy as central to Local Promote and relevant to Local.com’s general direction. Local.com is, in fact, going in many interesting directions coming off of its $8 million investment from Hearst.

This will include development on a number of Web 2.0 fronts including (undisclosed) mobile integration, as well as social media.

“We’re excited about the opportunities with ratings and reviews,” says Crair. “We will start to partner to bring in content from sites such as Judy’s Book and Insider Pages, and will eventually generate our own content.”

We’ll keep an eye on all of these developments.

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