In a long overdue move, Yahoo! is offering free web sites (up to five pages total) to small businesses. Chris Sherman at SEW has the best early write-up, noting (my edits in brackets):
- “The new program is available to any U.S. business that has a physical presence and serves a local area. Yahoo is specifically targeting the estimated 50% of businesses in the U.S. that do not have a web site—more than 10 million in all, according to the Kelsey Group.”
- “Free business sites are template-based, five-page sites with a unique business URL. [Paul] Levine, [GM Yahoo! Local] says that the process of creating a site is designed to take a maximum of ten minutes.”
You can sign-up for your own site at: http://local.yahoo.com/freesite
Disappointingly, he notes (emphasis mine), “Once you’ve created your business web site, it goes through the same editorial review process that local listings receive, a process that can take up to a couple of weeks to complete. Once your site goes live, you can edit its contents at any time.”
So, why do I see this as long overdue? Well, first, if Yahoo! can build a service and “give away” storage and bandwidth to Bloggers via Yahoo! 360, they can certainly “afford” to do the same for Small Businesses (saying nothing of the value of being a channel to either audience).
But more importantly, as I noted in my wrap-up of Kelsey Group’s Drilling Down on Local 2004 conference (edit in brackets, emphasis added):
“What local businesses who are using SEM [love] about the medium is its ability to allow them to fully express their businesses, at a price that provides substantially more value than Yellow Pages. An example: a local photographer put up his portfolio, references, schedule, etc. Even if the [print] Yellow Pages could accomodate that much information (they can’t), he’d be looking at $10s to $100s of thousands of dollars! Online, he pays a few bucks a month to host.”
Something tells me the LTV of a local business, who Yahoo! Local will surely market advertising services (etc) to, makes the incremental hosting costs a complete no-brainer… especially if it substantially lowers (or eliminates) acquisition costs.
How will Newspapers and IYPs respond?