Marchex Adds Local Sites, Offers Centralized Search Through Open List Portal

Seattle-based Marchex beefed up and refined its Open List search site, expanding its coverage to include about 15 million local listings across more than 20,000 categories. The expansion gives users the ability to narrow searches using personally specific criteria.

The Open List site now serves as a centralized, umbrella portal to Marchex’s 150,000 local search sites. Marchex recently added 50,000 sites to the list in an effort to “further extend the geographic coverage of Marchex’s local network” said a statement announcing the changes. Marchex launched the initial 100,000 Open List-powered sites about three months ago. Typical of the new local sites are Dallascars.com, Indianapolisautorepair.com and Topekadining.com.

Another new tweak to Open List is its effort to determine the location of those who conduct searches. Marchex said the site attempts to determine users’ locations (by scanning IP addresses) so it can deliver listings that are geo-targeted. Also, many Open List pages contain product, company, and service reviews aggregated from a number of Internet resources including Open List’s own user-generated ratings and reviews.

Marchex reported the average number of unique monthly visitors to its sites has increased by 20 percent over the average for the three months preceding the Open List integration. It said the Open List sites are now the fastest growing segment within its network.

“In the past, users could take advantage of our listings site-by-site but they didn’t have a drill-down way to use the overall dataset,” said Marchex Chief Media Officer Bill Day. “Now they do. So we leverage the 15 million businesses in 20,000 categories two ways and allow the user to choose the approach that works for them.”

Two years ago, Marchex began buying hundreds of thousands of domains, including Zip Code domains for most of the U.S. Initially, these domains contained plain ad links, but Marchex used technology attained from its acquisition of Open List to populate the sites with very specific localized content including business listings, reviews, and search functions.

Marchex has struck partnerships with a number of companies that are providing content for the local sites. Open List and Marchex’s local sites now contain local content and services from providers including Contractors.com, Healthgrades.com and local search and social networking site Judy’s Book.

Pages delivered by Open List contain sponsored link ads from Yahoo and Marchex, sourced through AT&T or sold by Marchex directly. “Over time, we plan to add graphical ads of various types along with call-based ads provided by VoiceStar,” said company spokesman Mark Peterson. Marchex just closed this week on the $20 million acquisition of VoiceStar, a pay-per-call outfit.

Marchex officials said they were interested in generic domains mainly because of the direct navigation traffic they offer. However, they hope the new efforts to improve the quality and depth of the individual sites will grab the attention of search engines.

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