Loci 2010 – David Mihm

David Mihm is the President & CEO of GetListed.org, in addition to running his own Portland-based search engine consulting business. He’s a Search Engine Land columnist and a frequent speaker at the SMX, SES, and Kelsey Group conference. He has created a number of tools to assist the SMB in navigating the rough waters of local more easily and publishes the annual survey of Local Ranking factors. More importantly he cares about the state of local search and how it impacts SMBs. He brings that sensibility and an astute mind to his list of articles that  stood out for him in 2010.

He thinks through the issues top to bottom and whenever I have a question, he is the one that I call.

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The Local conversation this year was once again dominated by Google, and in particular, its decision to completely reinvent its Local interface, moving away from the 10/7-pack and into a blended organic/local SERP.  (Btw, it bothers me that we still do not have a conventional term for this type of result two months after it launched!).  So a couple

Looking ahead to 2011, I think it’s going to be all about reviews, reviews, reviews this year as the differentiating factor for most Local SMB rankings.  Google’s extensive–though not quite exhaustive–push of Hotpot here in Portland these last couple months only goes to show how much stock they’re putting in reviews.  So I want to bring people’s attention to a couple of your posts in this arena.

Then, a couple of conceptual / theoretical posts–one by Chris Silver Smith that highlights an often-overlooked fundamental principle of Google’s Location Prominence patent, and one by Carolyn Johnston of Microsoft addressing one of business owners’ and marketers’ biggest frustration: why is my business data wrong, and what’s with all of the duplicate listings?

And, one tactical post–in my opinion the most actionable post in our industry over the course of the entire year–hats off to Garrett French.

Localization, Unique Data Sets & the Future of Search
Few people follow the economic side of Google’s UI decisions as closely as Aaron Wall.  In this article he lays out some of Google’s less altruistic motives behind Place Search.

Dead Fingers Walking
Andrew Shotland’s darkly satirical commentary on the same Places UI upgrade (pre-dating Aaron’s article by several months thanks to your own publication of the beta Place Search interface, Mike).

What Are the Implications of the New Integrated Local Search Results? –
Your own commentary on this seismic (or catclysmic, if you ask Andrew) shift in the way Google returns results for Local Intent searches.

Review Services – Do Positive Only Reviews Have a Place?
Perhaps not one of your greatest literary epics, Mike, but I see this debate raging for many years, particularly as Google begins to incorporate self-generated testimonials and hReviews into its Place Pages.  It’s an extremely important question to ask both the search engines and the marketing community.

Principles for a Review Plan: Considerations in encouraging customer reviews
You pretty much nail the matrix of important considerations in this easily-digestible column.

A New Behemoth Emerges in Google Maps: Wikipedia
Chris Silver Smith highlights the importance of the highest-rated referring Place-related document as part of Google’s Location Prominence patent, here pointing to Wikipedia as a very highly-rated source.  Perhaps not actionable for most businesses but I think the concept behind this discussion is incredibly valuable.

Why Local Listings Data Is Tough
A great “Q&A” posed from the perspective of the marketer/SMB to the search engine that is very illustrative of the difficulties in getting accurate data to flow all the way through the Local Search Ecosystem.

Phone Number Co-Citation Analysis for Local Link Builders
Garrett French’s terrifically efficient strategy for making sure you’ve got your competitive bases covered when it comes to Local listings.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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4 thoughts on “Loci 2010 – David Mihm”

  1. David:

    Nice overview and excellent article references, IMHO. It was interesting to me that shortly after the Bing/Facebook agreement wherein Facebook references/likes etc would begin to show in Bing Local results….an extraordinary concept in my view…..its significance got lost in the changes that Google made via its change in the currently unnamed UI wherein organic and Places ranking data gets merged. (the OPac has a nice ring IMHO :D).

    Subsequent to the Google UI changes it has had a strong impact on traffic to smbs that I follow: Stronger sites are getting excellent relevant local traffic; weaker sites are losing that traffic. That is significant.

    The review environment is tremendously potent. I’m one who was very saddened by its explosion, nervous about its growth, and careful in its implementation.

    We run businesses. We simply don’t optimize for clients and move on. Here is the dilemma we face:

    Lots of smbs have lots of employees that are, by the nature of their jobs, less than well paid. They may not give great customer service all the time. In my view hotels are the quintessential example of this: Daily cleaning, desk clerks, people carrying baggage/delivering room service are not highly paid employees. Hotels need lots of them. Its their level of service that could easily impact reviews. Its the responsibility of layers of management to ensure that every aspect of every step of these functions is carried out at the highest level of service to ensure great customer service and wonderful reviews.

    That is extremely difficult to implement on an operating basis. The bigger the business with more employees and more moving parts the more careful and expensive management it requires. Its a big job.

    It always has been, but now breakdowns in these functions run the risk of creating horrendous reviews.

    Anyway, I too agree that the review world has exploded. Most telling and interesting to me is that in the last year, as I read through search phrases that I see that hit the businesses, or show up in impressions….is a growth of this phrase:

    (business name/business type) reviews . Its not overwhelmingly enormous but its there and I see it across the board for different industries, smbs and markets.

    I never noticed those search phrases before. I’m sure they existed but their frequency was not noticable to me. Lately it appears to be more noticable.

    Finally, across businesses we find that customers read reviews. They are potent and important.

    Terrific choice of articles and excellent reasoning in your post, IMHO.

    Such a thoughtful piece. Makes me want to sit back, drink a delightful “Patty Mills” and ponder things like the wildly famous through the NW, Mihm. :D

  2. @David: @Mike:

    Just looked at 2010 and 2009 keywords in visits for 2009 and 2010 for 2 different sites:

    They don’t get frequent usage, but in both cases in 2010 there were more than twice as many search phrases that hit the sites that used the word reviews in the search phrases than in 2009.

    Reviews have become a dramatically more important part of the search environment IMHO in 2010 than in the past.

  3. Earlpearl –

    Yes, Google has always done an incredible job at building up Buzz for all of its products at launch…including mega-flop Buzz itself…it is similar to Apple in this regard. I happen to think that the release of Place Search / Hotpot happened around Google’s own internal calendar and it was just gravy that they quashed a lot of the potential for the FB/Bing hybrid (which should be a big deal).

    Not having run a large business (like a hotel) I don’t have a great concept of what it and is not required to ensure excellent service top-to-bottom. Working as a consultant for several smaller businesses, though, it seems that owners who pay people a fair wage/salary and treat their employees well build in an incentive for their employees to go the extra mile. So I would imagine there IS a trickle-down effect to some degree.

    Education about the importance of reviews needs to be a two-way street, though. I bet there are plenty of younger folks in large storefront businesses who do recognize how important reviews are (even in-store reviews) but their bosses don’t get it yet.

    Your Blazer update: Patty had his worst game of 2011 last night ;( I’m not sold that he can be the starter if we trade Andre as rumored…

  4. @David:

    1. Good to see you are up early ;)
    2. NYTimes was bemoaning the fact that Camby doesn’t play for Knicks. ( ;) again)

    3. As an operator I’m only articulating that which has always been an issue. Its critical to get all employees to do a great job!!
    Nowadays, the fact that reviews are so widely dispersed and so accessable is the difference. On top of that there are “attack reviews” “spam reviews”, and as Mike wrote, “review businesses” (OMG)

    4. Yup. Everyone needs to become more aware of them.

    Enjoy the day!!

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