Chicago Trends in SEM

With a population of more than 11 million in its city and suburbs, the Chicago area is a hot bed of buyers and sellers trying to connect with each other every day. There is competition in almost every conceivable industry, and advertisers constantly are on the look out for more-exact ways of reaching their target audiences.

Thanks to continuing advancements in search engine marketing, or SEM, and its related technology, including paid search and search engine optimization, businesses in and around the Windy City are thriving on their Internet advertising success.

Recent improvements to geo-targeting have had a significant impact on strategic Internet marketing in the metropolitan business community. Search engines like Google and Yahoo now can display results based on the searcher’s IP address, eliminating the need for location as part of the search. Now, national brands with local target audiences have a chance to be seen, and small businesses on limited budgets competing for those same consumers have a chance to level the playing field.

Search data from Yahoo Search Marketing for early 2007 shows Chicagoans are performing their top searches for automobiles, restaurants, sports teams and apartments. As a major metropolitan area with significant business diversity, Chicago likely mirrors the search habits of consumers in many different U.S. markets. It also demonstrates the advertising models of companies with varying budgets.

For instance, nationally based auto dealerships, such as CarMax, now can appear alongside local used-car lots when a search is performed without a specified location. As long as the dealership is within a 30-to-50-mile radius of the search, it will appear. Likewise, in the highly competitive restaurant industry where big budgets help national chains dominate, single-store vendors on a shoestring can appreciate the same importance and reach.

Although small businesses have been slow to adopt paid search and search engine optimization strategies, they cannot ignore the importance or simplicity of the changing advertising environment.

Technology improvements effectively are eliminating the excuses a small-business owner might have for resisting the Internet. Today, these companies do not even need a Web site to route visitors to their information. Display ads can include contact information and paid-search campaigns can hinge on pay-per-call outcomes.

And, with Internet Yellow Pages now mirroring the functionality of major search engines, these nearly obsolete banks of local information have managed to find their place as robust, viable advertising options.

So whether it’s downtown or at the farthest reaches of the Chicago suburbs, there are opportunities for every business to reach their target audiences effectively, thanks to smart technology and professional SEM expertise.