I have put the following to a number of folks whose opinion I respect.
The internet is coming face to face with the communities we live in. Local is at the nexus of this juncture. With the iPhone we now listen to our music, answer our phones, read our email, look at our maps and browse the yellow pages. In the near future we will likely be using our iPhroid (or whatever the device will be called) to replace our wallet, the ATM machine and who knows what else. In the past we have been satisfied with search providing relevant results but we are now in a time when we expect the map and business listings to be not just relevant but correct as well.
As we move forward to what I call the age of the iPhroid with who knows what transactional and social capabilities, does Local need to be held to a higher standard to â€œtrulyâ€ succeed and play a trusted role in our lives?
What is your opinion?
Matt McGee of SmallbusinessSEM now has the floor:
Matt: It would be great of Local could reach a higher standard, but no, I don’t believe Local needs to be held to a higher standard. It should be held to a high standard, of course, but I don’t believe it deserves special treatment; it doesn’t demand any higher standard than we expect from traditional search, e-mail, social networking, and the other tasks we do online each day.
Local, like any of those things, probably has to meet two standards:
1.) It has to be good enough most of the time.
2.) It has to maintain an appearance of relevancy (accuracy).
Look at Google: It’s not perfect, but the searching public has obviously decided it’s good enough most of the time. I don’t always find what I want via Google, but I succeed there often enough that I always start at Google. I’m guessing that’s a common experience among online searchers.
Look at another vertical, like travel search: Among Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, and others, which one offers the best fares? Which one offers the best options? The best tools? I have no clue. But I use Orbitz as my starting point because it’s always been good enough. It gives me the info. I need to choose an airport and/or an airline when multiple options are available. Then I go to the airline web site to make my reservation because I believe it’ll be less expensive that way. But sometimes the process isn’t clean; it breaks down, and what I find on the airline site doesn’t match what Orbitz told me. Still, I don’t hold the Travel vertical to any higher standard; I use it the same way I would any other online tool.
I would assume Local to develop in the same way, particularly where mobile search is concerned. Am I going to stop performing local searches on my iPhone just because every once in a while the directions are off, or the business’s phone number has changed? I can’t imagine I would stop, and I can’t imagine anyone else would, either.
Spam hasn’t stopped me from using and relying on e-mail. We accept spam as part of the convenience of e-mail. Likewise, I bet we’ll accept the occasional wrong left turn, the occasional wrong address, the occasional product that is not really in stock, and whatever other flaws will exist as Local continues to develop over time. We tend to be very forgiving, us humans.