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March 8, 2007

Better Local Targeting With Ask.com

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I was already a fan of AskCity, but with a new upgrade, Ask.com had made the service a little sweeter for searchers, as well as for your local search marketing campaign

First off, I’d like to express how excited I was to read the Ask.com blog late yesterday and discover an actual, search-related entry. It wasn’t a post about broken pens, medieval times or this month’s Smart Answers, it was a real live, factual blog post (with pictures!) to let everyone know about the cool things Ask.com has been up to. It was like a dream come true for an Ask-loving blogger. Keep it up, guys!

Ah, but back to the news.

When AskCity first launched in December, I was already impressed. Ask allowed users to interact with local maps in a way that Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft still haven’t incorporated. At launch, AskCity came equipped with a drawing palette so that users could mark up their maps with important information and then send them off to friends all marked up. It wasn’t just about mapping a destination; it was about making that map usable. This was very handy when giving someone directions to your little apartment that just so happens to reside in a massive puzzle of an apartment complex. Sometimes lines, arrows and text convey a far greater message than a not-always-accurate pinpoint. Ask realized that maps are a lot easier for others to understand when you can explain things directly on them.

Yesterday’s announcement builds on that drawing palette. Users are now able to circle or polygon a specific geographical area and then hone their search based on that area. By making local search easier to use, it strengthens the power of your local search campaign.

How is this useful?

As a searcher, it allows me to restrict my searches to a targeted area, which in turn gives me more relevant local search results. For example, I’m still on my quest to overfill my two-months-later-and-I’m-still-not-fully-moved-in-yet apartment with furniture. AskCity lets me pinpoint my location by drawing a circle around that area and then shows me all the furniture stores located within that small region. All nine of them.

It also helps me to re-locate stores I’ve already visited. For instance, I bought a couch a few weeks back that I absolutely love. In fact, I love it so much that I’d like to give them a call and see if they have any other pieces to match it. I could just head down there but that requires me to get dressed and voluntarily engage in person-to-person contact, with sales people no less. Lisa don’t play that. [I don’t even know where to begin with the mocking. Let’s start with “1992 called and they want their lame catch phrase back.” –Susan] If we’re going to start mocking, let’s talk about your Harry Potter backpack.

There’s one problem with my plan — I don’t for the life of me remember the name of the store. I do, however, vaguely remember where it is. With Ask’s new feature, all I have to do is mark the approximate location, search for "furniture stores", and I’m reminded of the store I visited that one time on the day I visited all those other furniture stores. If only furnishing an apartment was that simple.

For businesses, this is very noteworthy because it increases your ability to target customers, which in turn increases the strength of your local search engine optimization campaign. If you’re running a local campaign, and you’d be crazy not to be at this point, make sure you’re appearing in Ask’s local index. In my opinion, Ask.com’s local search marketing capabilities are far greater than Google’s or Yahoo’s. As usual, their tools blow everyone else out of the water.

To make sure your business is being represented in AskCity, contact AskCity’s Customer Service department. You’ll be asked to provide them with your business name, address, phone number, category, URL address and email address. Your listing should begin to show up in no more than 4 weeks.

If you’d like to see AskCity in progress, Barry Schwartz created a screen cast walking viewers through the new features. My one piece of advice for you, don’t watch it on a full stomach.

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One response to “Better Local Targeting With Ask.com”

  1. Barry Schwartz writes:

    Made ya dizzy, didn’t I? ;-)



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