Niches, Verticals and Local Search: The End of the Gold Rush Years Is In Sight

Though the majority of my time is focused on growing 2ndSite, I still keep up with what is going on in search marketing. It is always interested me and we do a lot of search marketing at 2ndSite.

A week ago Thursday, I taught a course at the Learning Annex. It is that “how-to” course which explains how to make your web site more visible in search engines.

You can tell search marketing is growing in popularity because the fact that 40 people paid for and attended this relatively unadvertised lecture. As I doled out the first two minutes of introduction to the topic, and explained the context of Search Marketing today, I was struck by a vision of “the future” of search, and caught a glimpse of the end of easy opportunities for niche and local search players.

Today, the opportunities for niche players and local businesses are enormous – the Gold Rush is quite literally still on. And in two years, I doubt that things will still be that way. Competition is intensifying already and a growing number of small businesses are realizing that to not leverage the Internet, is to forgo opportunities.

What do I mean? Here’s an example. Anicon has a client who does massage and laser therapy, and offers a range of other holistic health services. They are located in uptown Toronto. In late 2003, Anicon built a very simple “portfolio” site for them. The site was built – as Anicon builds all the sites – to ensure the design is search engine friendly. Included in the package were a handful of directory listings and the whole cost was less than $2500 (if memory serves). The results?

Today this business has earned over 50 new clients thanks to their web site (I know this because they keep good records on referrals and they shared them with me). Over time have they learned that their average client is worth $400 – and that does not include any referrals by word of mouth come from new clients. So 50 clients, at $400 each is $20,000 in revenue – so far! That is over 700% return on investment. Not bad.

These numbers are small, but there are literally millions of similar opportunities out there for local service providers who can achieve the same kinds of results. This is the low hanging fruit in search now and I’m predicting these kind of results will be harder to achieve in two years time. In the meantime, if you are local service provider or operate in each business, I would give a company like Anicon a call and get your site built right. Your average web designers DOES NOT have the “know how” you need to get these kinds of results. I’m also predicting this will be changing over the next two years….

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