Bringing Small Businesses Online has an article on the growing trend of small businesses advertising themselves on Craigslist. As opposed to individuals buying and selling merchandise, this involves local businesses creating posts that list business information or possibly product or inventory info.

Essentially, this utilizes Craigslist as a place to have a free landing page. But this kind of advertising precariously places such pages where they can be bounced around as newer posts push them down chronological listings.

More effective for some small businesses have been free landing page and microsite offerings that have grown in number over the past year, as the name of the game for many search engine marketers will be to get more small businesses online.

This comes with the thought that a significant chunk of revenue growth for search engine marketers will come from new business – those local and small businesses that have thus far steered clear of online marketing because they aren’t inclined to do it, or they simply don’t have websites. Bringing a business online with free development and hosting tools is thought to hook them, and to develop early loyalties as a place to also do their online marketing.

Enter the free landing page development and hosting offerings. Yahoo! has done this for a while with its free local listings product, and Google came out with Page Creator in February which it recently upgraded with its new “hosted business pages” tool. Companies that have introduced similar solutions include vFlyer and Affinity Internet.

Many of the small businesses in this boat are service businesses that traditionally advertise in the yellow pages. In many cases these businesses are better equipped to handle a phone call than a click, which can be an abstract concept to some. A recent study done by Nielsen//NetRaings and WebVisible suggest as much.

So in addition to more free website development and hosting services, we could see more click-to-call functionality in paid search. In the last month alone, we’ve seen this from Google and LiveDeal. Look for more to emerge throughout ’07.

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