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Merchants that take out enhanced listings on Yahoo! tend to improve their impressions and clicks by 2X, and increase their all-important ranking on the page, said Yahoo! Local GM Paul Levine, in a Small Business Commando Tele-Seminar that also featured Kelsey VP Matt Booth. I helped to develop the event.

Levine said there is nothing mysterious about the relationship between rankings and buying enhanced listings. The inclusion of custom information in the profile, including photos, custom tag lines, etc., simply makes many listings more attractive for consumers. In fact, Yahoo! is emphasizing its wide array of integrated social tools (Flickr,, etc.) as a major differentiator.

"It is an opportunity for merchants," said Levine. "The more they participate, the more likely they are to be on the first or second page" of listings. "The onus is on the merchant to get the message out. Consumers want to find what they are looking for quickly," he added.

In addition to enhanced listings, which cost $9.95 per month, Levine said that Yahoo! Local's "featured listings" have really improved traffic for merchants. The featured listings have six positions at the top and bottom of the page, with 50 percent rotation. The north listings at the top are 50 percent more expensive than the south listings. They are priced from $50 to $300 per month, based on position, region and category and are offered via both self-serve and channel partners.

Looking ahead, Levine said he envisions more of an emphasis on geotargeted and mobile products. "The litmus test is when it becomes easier to SMS than to call 411," he said. "That's the point when you'll see people really use these services."

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