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Local.com Pays $5m for Local Ad Solution Provider Octane360

Local search site Local.com has acquired Octane360, a provider of domain-based local ad solutions for small businesses, domain portfolio owners, agencies and channel partners.

Local.com is paying $5 million in cash and stock, with an earnout of up to $5.9 million if certain performance criteria are met in the two-year period following the closing.

WhitePages Releases New Version of Local Business Search Offering
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WhitePages.com has released a new version of its Business Search today. It includes contact info for over 15 million local businesses around the U.S. as well as a Store Locator providing one-click access to neighborhood contact info for over a million local branches of national chains.

Upgrading Local AdWords Ads to Location Extensions

Google is about to transition local business ads in advertisers’ AdWords accounts to ads that are compatible with the location extensions the company introduced last year.

Facebook Finding More Ways to Compete with Google
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Apparently Facebook is not content with only taking over the web, but wants to get some penetration into the physical world as well. Taking a cue from another dominant company, Google, Facebook is now giving brick and mortar businesses decals to put in their windows. While Facebook tells WebProNews the decals are currently only a test with a small number of businesses, I would expect this to be expanded in the future.

Businesses Should Know About These New Local Features from Google
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Facebook made some of the biggest news of the week with the anouncements from its developer conference, as far as online business goes, but Google had some significant news about local search that may have taken a backseat, but should not be ignored.

Google Expands Tag Advertising for Local Businesses
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Last week Google changed the Local Business Center to Google Places, and along with that change came some new features for local businesses. We looked at those here.

Google Adds to Google Maps Suggest Feature
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Google recently launched Suggest for Google Maps in several countries, and has now expanded the availability of the feature to ten more domains. The feature has also gotten some improvements.

MerchantCircle, Demand Media Provide New Local Search Opportunities
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MerchantCircle, a social network for local businesses, which boasts over a million businesses, announced an expanded partnership with Demand Media. I spoke with Darren Waddell, VP of marketing for MerchantCircle and Sean Pate, the company’s Director of PR about this and some other news.

Google Maps Gets More Useful on BlackBerry

Google introduced a new version of Google Maps for BlackBerry devices today. There are quite a few significant features that come along with it.

YellowPages.com Rebranded as YP.com
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In local search news, AT&T Interactive has rebranding its popular YellowPages.com to YP.com. AT&T’s Jamie Carracher tells WebProNews, "YP.com will replace YellowPages.com as its flagship web property and brand."

This was actually revealed last summer, but is now being implemented.

Why MapQuest Should Be Considered in Your Local Marketing Mix
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I don’t think too many people will dispute the fact that location is buzz topic of 2010 so far within the online marketing industry. Big players in this space include Foursquare, Gowalla, Twitter, Facebook (soon), and of course Google.

As reported earlier this week, Google noted that a third of its searches via the mobile web pertain to some aspect of the searcher’s local environment, and that they think of location as a "hugely important signal".

Citysearch Has New Way for Local Businesses to Advertise
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Citysearch recently announced a set of APIs to make all of Citysearch’s local listings content and advertising available to other Websites and mobile apps. It’s called CityGrid. Today, the company announced an online advertising solution called CityGrid Complete, as an extension of that.

Bing Talks Local Business Listings
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In case you missed it, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke at SMX West in Santa Clara yesterday, addressing the search marketing industry for the first time (you can watch that at our new site live.webpronews.com). Obviously, much of the conversation was centered around Bing.

AlikeList Points Customers to Local Businesses Their Friends Like
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As we’ve written about a lot lately, local search is continuing to evolve, and that evolution is not just coming from the biggest names in search. We recently had a discussion with RateItAll President Lawrence Coburn about user location-sharing as  new kind of query that can yield local business results. ChaCha is bringing in Q&A to local search.

Local Business Search as Q&A

Human-driven Q&A search service ChaCha launched some new functionality this week for local businesses. Now users can access information about over 15 million businesses in the U.S., courtesy of partner Localeze.ChaCha spoke with WebProNews about why the company considers itself a legitimate contender in the ever-growing local search space.

Why Even Local Search is Becoming More Real-Time

As the web quickly becomes more mobile and social than ever, we see apps filling voids that were mostly left empty throughout the history of search and social media. People are increasingly sharing their locations with their friends, certain apps, certain sites, and even the world.

Google Suggests Competitors for Local Business Searches
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Google is offering suggestions for "nearby places you might like" on Google Maps when you look up a place that you do like. So if you like a particular bakery, you might be presented with other places within the same vicinity that Google thinks you might also be interested in trying.

Bing Gets Localeze To Augment Local Biz Listings
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Thanks to a new deal, Bing’s results for local businesses should soon get much better.  A report’s indicated that Localeze, which specializes in local search, is going to provide something like 14 million business listings for Bing Local and Bing 411 to use.

Google Ditches Local Listings for SEOs and Designers
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As 2009 came to a close, Google managed to get SEOs riled up for one last controversial topic. For some time, SEOs and web designers have been noticing that Google has not been showing local listings in search results for queries related to their businesses – even location-specific ones.

Should SEOs and designers be worried about local listings?
Comment here.

Google Tailors Mobile Search Suggestions to Location
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Google has launched search suggestions based on geographical location for iPhone and Android devices. This is currently only available in the United States.

"Typing a query into the search box on a phone can often be slow and difficult," says Google’s Mobile Engineering Team. "For this reason, relevant search suggestions that match your intended query can meaningfully reduce the time and effort it takes to submit a search."

Google’s Place Pages Just Got More Useful
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Google has introduced some new features for its recently launched Place Pages for local businesses. Most notably, businesses can now instantly (close anyway) post data to their Place Pages from Google’s Local Business Center dashboard. If you log in, you can post updates, coupons, announcements, etc. that will go live in minutes.