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Battling giants of Web search

OCeasy.com, a new business directory service, seeks to beat out phone books, Google, Yahoo. Good luck, says expert.Old media, new media -- Peter Tsui said he’s ready to take them on.

The Huntington Beach acupuncturist is hoping to create a new niche in the business directories market with the launch of his Orange County search engine, OCeasy.com.

He challenges the dominance of the phonebook business and survives under the shadow of major search engines like Google and Yahoo, which are investing millions to create local search applications allowing computer users to find nearby pizzerias or get a map to the nearest mall.

Tsui said his site’s customized listings will make OCeasy.com stand out from the big two search engines -- businesses can write their own listings on his websites and enter their own keywords to optimize online searches.

For example, a flowershop owner will likely want to incorporate phrases like “roses,” “bouquets” and “gifts” into their websites to attract the most surfers, Tsui said.

They can also update their listing as often as they like to reflect new sales and services.

He said he envisions a day when Orange County residents will use his site to look for products and services.

But while Tsui’s site provides a customized service, it might have a difficult time competing with the name recognition of the online giants, said Orange County-based search engine optimization specialist Greg Kell.

Google’s use is so widespread “it’s created a verb that’s also a noun,” he said, as in “I’m going to Google the baseball score to see who won the game.”

And with billions of dollars in assets, Google is continuing to develop new local search techniques.

The company just unveiled a new shopping aid that allows users to pinpoint which stores are carrying the items they’re looking for, along with a map to take them there.

“The next big thing is Google. They’re basically controlling the online universe, rolling out products left and right,” Kell said.

In recent weeks, Yahoo has also been beefing up its local content -- launching a new application that allows users to review restaurants and businesses.

A Web surfer looking for a steakhouse will be presented with both a map of all the local steakhouses near his home and dining reviews by ordinary computer users.

Kell said overcoming those obstacles will be hard, but he does agree with Tsui on one important point.

“I belief the Yellow Pages are a better service as a door stop than a way to locate goods and services these days,” he said.

Tsui said his company has been very successful in recent weeks and continues to sign up new businesses on his site.

A listing on OCeasy.com runs between $300 and $600, he said.

“It’s really a chance to get out front,” he said.

“A lot of mom-and-pop businesses don’t have big budgets, and this is a way to make themselves really stand out.”


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