LAST WORD: As the Internet evolves, so too must local businessby Tucson Citizen on Feb. 07, 2007, under Edge
By Edmond McGuyer
Since the inception of the World Wide Web, the information highway changed forever the way business is done and information is accessed.
Most businesses, large and small, understand that in order to remain competitive they require a substantial advertising budget and an effective online presence that includes first-tier positioning in the major search engines.
But even on a search engine, a business can get lost among the sometimes tens of thousands of hits a consumer’s query produces.
This is why many today are discussing the idea of Web 2.0: the next evolution of the way information is used. The concept of next-level information is to make it “personalized and community driven”: make it local.
Studies show that local searches are experiencing strong growth as more customers become accustomed to the “always on” connection. The ability to search locally has increased the ease in finding information about local business. Whether looking for the price of gas or the driving distance between two points, people today use the Web to shop locally.
With the dynamic expansion occurring in most metropolitan cities, it is becoming more of a challenge for the local business owner to maintain market share.
There was a time when neighborhood papers would promote and support local business, but as the flow of information changed, business has had to adapt to a more fluid market.
The businesses that cannot compete against larger companies with deep pockets for advertising need a way to level the playing field.
One way to compete head-on with the majors would be to advertise collectively and then be able to afford higher profile marketing. Businesses looking for more customers can join a local online platform and gain unique and additional exposure.
This can be an effective means to compete in the evolution taking place on the Internet and everyone can participate. Business networks are becoming even more vital now with the market place changing daily: The local talent that exists in community today has the knowledge and resources to use collective remedies to compete against the giants.
Using location combined with a full content Web site presence provides a much needed edge for success in today’s business climate.
The information age will get stronger with even more bits for search engines to process, but the way information will be used on the local level will become the focal point.
Edmond McGuyer is president of ShopFromHomepage.com, a business that helps local businesses find local customers via the Internet. He also owns Two Lagoons Holdings, an equity consulting firm.