An interview with Local.com CEO Heath Clark by The Wall Street Transcript points to three key success factors in building a business on the local web. Beat on SEO over and over to drive traffic, provide a simple service and create as broad a reach through multiple networks as you can. It’s not enough to just be a destination. Be an aggregator, redistributor and solution provider.
Reading the excerpt below, note the significant improvement in driving traffic through SEO.
We’re focused on building three key areas, namely, traffic, technology and advertisers. We have set a goal of 50,000 advertisers — small business customers — we want to acquire by year-end. We currently have 30,000 advertisers. So we’re going to continue to grow that, and we are also looking to add new products. Our current entry-level product is $50 per month. We’re working on a plan for a product that serves between $250-$500 per month advertising, to different ad segments. We’ve got more bells and whistles coming, and that’s something you would see later this year. And you can expect new advertisers and new products to continue over the next couple of years as we build out our products and services for small businesses across the United States. Organic traffic, that is, traffic coming to our Website through our search engine optimization and repeat usage, we’re looking to build that too. Right now it’s about 50% of all traffic.
About a year and a half ago, it was actually 10% of all traffic. So we made a conscious decision to increase the amount of organic traffic to Local.com. We’re going to continue to do that, in part through the expansion of our private label Syndication network. We have approximately 700 regional media sites today. We’re looking to go upstream and target larger regional media publishers and even nationwide publishers, and we have been making progress on that front. So expansion of our Syndication network drives expansion of our search engine and this optimizes our SEO traffic, which is all organic and builds our value. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the name Local.com is an under-utilized asset. So we will be doing some brand-based advertising to build brand recognition among consumers and that would feed into our repeat usage. Also feeding into our repeat usage is improvement on the site itself. We significantly enhanced the site earlier this year and there would be incremental improvements, such as ad user-generated content, having widgets that one can use to track their favorites and tapping into social networks, all of which we find very interesting. And on the technology front, the creation of the new product is one part.
However, what we’re trying to do is create a platform in 2009 that will service our customers in 2010 and beyond. So we’re making pretty significant investments in our infrastructure in order to continue to grow and we’re also filing a few patents. We filed one, I believe, earlier this month and we’ll continue to do that. We have about a dozen patents pending; so far, three patents have been issued.