Groupon stakes bid to become local deals search engine

Local search represents the most profitable sector of search marketing in general, and tech giants are recognizing the serious potential of that slice of the market. It's not just the dominant search engines like Google and Bing, but growing brands that have trained or refocused their strategies to revolve almost entirely around local search marketing. Yelp was one of the forerunners of the less-influential companies to make a run at local search; and of recent, it was Foursquare who completely overhauled its image to become a niche, local search engine. But the increased focus doesn't end there as Groupon, the hugely popular daily deal firm, is now the latest to signal its intent to become a local search authority.

Groupon recently announced that it was in the early stages of making its growing inventory of less perishable deals accessible to consumers. The so-called "Local Marketplace" will represent the daily deal aggregator stepping up from local deal provider to local deal search engine. Search Engine Land reported that the offering was live in Chicago, Groupon's base of operations, and New York, and will soon be available in other Groupon cities.

"In the last year, we’ve increased our North American selection of active deals by nearly 13 times, to more than 27,000 at the end of Q3," reported a Groupon blog post announcing the local search engine move. "As of today, we’ve opened the doors so you can search and browse that inventory of deals, both daily deals and real-time 'Now!' deals. You can actually type in a search ('pizza,' 'couple's massage,' 'oil change'), and you can browse by category (Food and Drink, Beauty and Spa, and so on) and subcategory (Indian Cuisine, Massage, Yoga). You can also specify exactly where you want your deals. Just type in an address, a neighborhood or a city, and we'll instantly find the closest, most relevant deals for that location."

The local search approach Groupon seems to be taking is a reflection on the daily deal industry, which has quickly fallen from its peak in 2011 after Groupon and fellow daily deal site LivingSocial posted lukewarm earnings in 2012's quarter three, with LivingSocial actually reporting a loss.

A big problem was that consumer inboxes were flooded with daily deals that weren't valuable to them, but by opening up the archives to search, local businesses can utilize Groupon to help them craft more targeted and focused local daily deals that will do a better job of bringing in customers.