Yabsta, the Absolute Local Search Engine, Partners with WhidbeyLocal.com

WhidbeyLocal.com creator JoAnna Weeks takes in the views off Coupeville Wharf in her hometown where she works to serve the local business community of Whidbey Island. / Photo by Patricia Duff.

Whidbey Island, WA (PRWEB) July 04, 2014

The big search engines may not know it yet, but they’ve got company.

When one thinks about Internet search-engines, the Goliaths come to mind: Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Ask. In fact, there are plenty of other big engines that will guide someone down specific avenues of search, specific to what someone might be looking for ─ blogs, cars, jobs, shopping, travel, food, real estate, etc. But a cursory search for the local businesses in any local town will not give the exclusively local results being looked for with Google or the other monster engines.

Enter Yabsta, the little engine that could… search absolutely local.

The first thing someone notices when they go to the http://www.Yabsta.com homepage is the catchy tagline, “Market yourself to a truly local audience.” Yabsta partner and Whidbeylocal.com creator JoAnna Weeks discovered Yabsta four years ago, when she was trying to get something going online for her local business area on Central Whidbey Island. http://www.Whidbeylocal.com is a prototype of Gary Taylor’s http://www.Bermudayp.com site, which is also powered by Yabsta, an engine that is available anywhere in the world. Taylor is the president and founder of Yabsta. The local search-engine idea came out of his familiarity with the world of print phone directories as he is also the General Manager of the Bermuda Yellow Pages. Taylor saw a need for the “absolute local online search” and built the software that became Yabsta.

Weeks, a longtime friend and colleague of Taylor, approached him with a new idea in 2010.

“I told him I would help him build it if he would let me take it to Whidbey,” Weeks said.

He did and Weeks started selling ads as they built the website, and they’ve been adding enhancements to it ever since.

“We have cities coming online as fast as we can load them,” Weeks said. Recent Northwest cities to join Whidbey Island in launching the Yabsta model include Bellingham, Yakima, Spokane, Tri-Cities and Seattle’s Eastside.

Weeks had been a national sales manager and media buyer for the phone directory industry for more than 40 years. She was there during that century of non-smart phones and phone books, when “online” meant laundry drying in the sun. After she got on board with Taylor, she enlisted the help of longtime franchisee entrepreneur Paul Hendrickson, who welcomed the opportunity to join forces with Weeks in developing her vision for using the Yabsta business model in markets throughout Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Weeks formed the Visible Connections, LLC in 2010 as CEO and she and Hendrickson set out to bring the Whidbeylocal.com idea to other cities in the Northwest.

Ultimately, Taylor said he wanted to develop Yabsta in order to give online and mobile search users, advertisers and publishers what they need and want. Weeks expanded on that theme.

“We want to work with publishers first, but any franchisee that wants a Yabsta local search engine can give me a call. We are very affordable and anyone from the chambers, publishers, newspapers or someone digitally inclined can have this for their own back yard,” Weeks said.

The company celebrated its “coming out” in March of this year in Fort Worth, Texas, where the Association of Directory Publishers was holding its annual publishers’ event. The goal for the Yabsta partners is to get the word out to all the publishers in the U.S. and Canada that they can have their own local.com pages without breaking the bank.

“By refining business data, maps, classifieds, menus, reviews, e-sites, etc. into dynamic, well-organized listings, Yabsta delivers targeted, data-rich search results for users dissatisfied with the increasingly irrelevant results often provided by major search engines,” Taylor said.

Social features including local content, user reviews and free classifieds deliver a more useful and accurate user experience. Yabsta organizes information into a local target with the help of search engine optimization. Weeks said she always tells business owners that keywords are the secret recipe to optimizing results on Yabsta.

“The business opportunities are many,” Taylor said. “E-commerce will grow if we can make it very easy and inexpensive. Yabsta provides solutions.”

Weeks agreed.

“No need for Google. They want to give local advertisers a cost effective way to create content for their own search engine. It doesn’t have to filter through the chaff of the wider Internet. We want to keep it local so that the revenue stays local; bring back advertising to the local level online and on mobile devices.”

“The thing I’m proud of most,” Weeks said, “is that one of the first prototypes was born here on Whidbey, which to me is kind of neat.”

Patricia Duff is a freelance journalist at Patricia Duff Writing Services on Whidbey Island. Reach her at patriciajeanduff(at)gmail(dot)com.

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