Another collision of local search and social conversation: It’s called Yahoo Neighbors, and I think it has the potential to be really big and really important in the local/small business space. That link points to my fairly lengthy overview on Search Engine Land.
Yahoo Neighbors is essentially a forum or message board for every town in the USA. It’s an opportunity to add a layer of conversation to any local search someone does on Yahoo. In a sense, it brings some of the conversational aspects of Twitter and Facebook and adds them to local search results (but obviously not as fresh/real-time as Twitter is).
I write about marketing on Yahoo Answers pretty regularly, and about the exposure opportunities that exist there for small/local businesses … but, in reality, Yahoo Answers offers very little for, say, a local business here in the Tri-Cities that only serves the Tri-Cities. There’s no “Tri-Cities, Wash.” category on Yahoo Answers. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a reason for a local restaurant owner, real estate agent, or bike store owner to devote time to Yahoo Answers.
But Yahoo Neighbors is a no-brainer for folks like that, for all the same reasons Yahoo Answers is a no-brainer for other small/local businesses:
- Reputation management
- Creating authority status in the community
I think that last point could be especially powerful. As I said in the SEL article, Yahoo Neighbors is obviously built with SEO in mind and there’s no reason to think these local conversations won’t rank very highly in the SERPs. They will. And those conversation pages will have a lot of local, long-tail phrases — most of which are very easy to rank for, especially in smaller cities.
I also like how the RSS feeds and email updates on Yahoo Neighbors can serve as simple reputation management tools. That restaurant owner I mentioned earlier should sign up for the RSS feed of the “Restaurants & Night Life” category in his/her town.
Add it all up, and I think Yahoo Neighbors could be huge … but it’ll take a while to catch on in areas like mine, with smaller population bases. And I can’t help but wonder if Yahoo has the patience for it to succeed in small town America.