Category Archives: Local Mobile

Loci2009: Greg Sterling: An Explosion of Interest in “Local” in 2009

I’ve been watching what we now call the “local online market” or “local search market” for about a decade. And finally in the past year we’ve seen an explosion of interest in “local.”

Strangely, the mobile handset arms race and growth of the mobile Internet this year have made the concept of local more accessible to people. It’s always been empirically clear that people use the Internet for research but mostly buy offline. I always say, “Local is where the money changes hands.” But mobile is now providing a more transparent connection between the digital and the real worlds that helps illustrate the power of place for people.

There’s a ton of great writing about local SEO and search marketing, as well as the future direction of the local market. Much of it happens on Mike’s blog. He brings a kind of passion and near-relentless attention to a host of practical issues that are critical for small businesses and local search marketers to understand.

Mike asked me to collect my favorite or “top posts” pertaining to local this year. That’s very hard to do. Instead, I’ve selected several articles and posts that capture what I think are important issues or developments in the local space from the past 12 months.

I don’t present them in order of importance; this is more like stream of consciousness:

Local Listing Ads: A New, Simplified Ad Unit For Local Business

Google has tried for a long time to find a way to sell directly into the small business market. In the recent past it has relied on a reseller strategy. Now it’s making a bigger direct push with Local Listing Ads and Place Pages. These flat-fee, no keyword ads could be a breakthrough product for Google with SMBs. We don’t know yet.

Link: Google creates a new simplified ad unit for local business

Local Results without a Geo-Modifier

In March, 2009 Google started showing local results (map + 10, then) in categories where there was no geographic modifier. This move was a reflection of what Google had been observing for several years: consumers often don’t include a geo-modifier in a query when they have a “local intent.” Yahoo later followed suit.

Link: Google Maps now showing local 10 pack on broad non geo phrase searches/

Location Everywhere: the Twitter GeoAPI

Twitter released deeper support for geo in August with an API that will enable developers to associate any Tweet with a lat-long. Twitter later bought MixerLabs, which had its own GeoAPI. Facebook has also been working on something more elaborate with location around status updates. It may also be preparing to release its own location API. The larger point is that most content and almost all user-generated content will soon be associated with location, unlocking many interesting possibilities for the PC and, more specifically, mobile users.

Link: Location Location Location

Local Search Ranking Factors Part II

I didn’t participate in this survey but many of the best local SEO folks did, including Mike. The David Mihm coordinated project is a must read guide for any practitioner trying to figure out how to get maximum exposure in Google local results.

Another important post from David Mihm, which led to an extensive debate on a couple of blogs was his Be Wary Of Call Tracking Numbers In Local Search

Link: Local search ranking factors

Link: Be wary of call tracking numbers in local search

TeleAtlas Gets the Boot; Google Goes It Alone

Deciding that mapping was so strategic that it wanted to own the entire value chain, Google fired its mapping data provider TeleAtlas and now uses its own internal resources for Maps data. This is a big, if obscure, story and Mike wrote a good post about it last year.

Link: Google replaces TeleAtlas data in US with Google data

RX for the Yellow Pages

Chris Silver Smith wrote two significant posts about the yellow pages. One discussed how yellow pages directories and other local publishers were getting squeezed off the first page of Google SERPs because of the greater frequency of the Map’s appearance. He also offered 10 prescriptions to “save the yellow pages.”

Link: Brave new world for Yellow Pages – Google nabs marketshare & strangles local directories

Link: What can save Yellow Pages industry

SMBs and the ‘New Local Product Suite’

Marchex unveiled a powerful reputation management tool for SMBs this year (the first of more to come), reflecting the growing importance of social media and the challenges of dealing with it at the local/SMB level. Related to reputation management is a broader portfolio of tools and services that address the cluster of local business needs in the local space. I called this the “new local product suite.”

Link: Marchex releases powerful SMB reputation management tool with search inside

Link: The local product suite now in focus

Mobile & Local

I end as I began with mobile. Any number of posts and articles could go in this category. Mobile is an absolutely huge story, only getting bigger. And local is central to the entire mobile user experience. Google has been remarkable is adapting to the changing marketplace and the advent of the smartphone camera as a search tool. Google Goggles and “augmented reality” are examples of new ways that “local search” on mobile devices is evolving away from the PC model.

Link: Google visual search – Augemented Reality 1.5 and beyond

Link: Augmented reality is also a form of search

Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker got everyone’s attention late last year when she proclaimed (as others had before her) that the mobile Internet would be at least 2X the PC Internet. Since that time Gartner has said that the mobile Internet will be larger than the PC Internet, on a global basis, by as soon as 2013.

Link: Morgan: Mobile Internet to Be 2X the PC Internet

No doubt there are omissions here, maybe even significant ones. Seb Provencher, for example, has written quite a bit about the convergence of local and social and I agree with him. The so-called real-time Web will also have its local angle.

Regardless, I think this year we saw a lot more people wake up to the importance of location and the connection between the Internet and the offline world.

Loci2009: Gib Olander’s Important Trends and Directions in Local

So not all of these posts were explicitly about local but I think they all discuss leading trends and toward solving problems that local is dealing with or will be dealing with in the near future.

Here are eight posts from 2009 that sum up the year and point toward where we are going in 2010.

1) Battlelle sums up a trend early in the year (March 2009) that made me think about the importance of social media as a traffic source, and there have been several other articles about this topic since, but this particular article captures the reality of the change taking place. I think the implications for local are still playing out, but it’s a trend that will impact local in 2010.

The Conversation Is Shifting

2) Danny Sullivan has been all over the newspaper/Google conversation and back in April 2009 I ran across this article on his personal blog. Again, this isn’t exactly local and the authors opinions are his own and not necessarily mine or my company’s, but I think it’s interesting to see how newspapers are struggling to monetize their content and I think that concept will impact local more in 2010.

Google’s Love For Newspapers & How Little They Appreciate It

3) Sebastien Provencher always has great thoughts, plus I am a huge Gladwell fan, so this is a natural for me. Social and local remind me of those 1980’s REESES PEANUT BUTTER CUPS COMMERCIAL’s Hey! you got peanut butter on my chocolate, Hey! you got chocolate on my peanut butter. Most of your social network is relevant to where you are, and where you are is your location or something like that. Anyway, Sebastien clearly frames the opportunity here in April 2009.

Malcolm Gladwell: “Re-Framing” the Yellow Pages Industry

4) Greg Sterling, as always gives everyone in the industry a compass to follow. I found this recap of all the iPhone apps important not only because it was informative but sort of shocking to see just how many local apps already had some success by mid-year 2009.

Survey of Local Apps for the iPhone

5) Mike you gave us this terrific illustration of the proliferation of locksmith spam in February 2009 and it has increased the profile of claiming your business listing, stunning at the time and has led to significant change in the industry.

Google Maps Proves More Locksmiths in NYC than Cabs

6) David Mihm’s – thoughts on categorizations – he touches on many of the interesting and difficult questions concerning business listings today.

Thoughts On Categorization In Local Search

7) Of the things I wrote this year, this one summarizes the core concepts that the aforementioned trends, articles and posts led me to think about: Business Owners: Are You Sabotaging Your Own Local Listings? The key concept is that a business location’s information can be accessed, shared, researched, judged from so many different places, platforms and applications that a SMB needs to establish an anchor and from my perspective that anchor should be a well defined, consistent representation of your NAP (name, address phone).

Enjoy 2010. As a former boss Jeff Herzog from iCrossing used to say, “search will be everywhere”. I think that’s becoming more and more true and as Greg Sterling points out in his post: Location Will Be Everywhere, local search just might be everywhere by the end of 2010….

Gib Olander’s bio….
Continue reading Loci2009: Gib Olander’s Important Trends and Directions in Local

Loci2009: Seb Provencher’s Inspirational Local Developments in 2009 and Predictions for 2010

Looking back, I believe 2009 was a transition year in the local media space. Mobile finally came of age after many years of broken promises and put “geo” front and center. Social media became a hot topic in the local media circles, something that was almost unthinkable 3 years ago when I started blogging about the power of the geo-social intersection. Many traditional media firms (Yellow Pages and newspaper publishers) spent the year reorganizing or worrying about their debt level which slowed down innovative deployments. 2009 was also the birth of the Local Social Summit, an event dedicated to this brave new world.

Last year, I was truly inspired by the zeitgeist and wrote my “I Have Seen the Future of Local Media” blog post (it became an eleven-page .pdf document!) in which I explain why the real-time social media revolution is a game changer in the local media space. I also wrote about Why Social Media is Not Just About Merchant Reviews, prepared a list of KeySuccess Factors for User Reviews Deployment, presented a compendium of future user features of The Perfect Local Media Company of 2014 and published a guest post on LeWeb’s blog explaining Why FourSquare Is Not The Next Twitter.

I obviously don’t write in complete isolation and I want to also share with you a few blog posts that truly inspired me in 2009.

In 2010, expect the following:

  1. It will be the year where “Local” becomes strategic for all media players, triggering the beginning of what I called in 2008 The Local Wide Web
  2. The economy recovers and new disruptive technologies are born. As the Kelsey Group said at their ILM 09 conference, “Get Ready for the Post Recovery Digital Shift”.
  3. Social media monetization will start happening on a serious scale through reputation management and online coupons/promotions
  4. On mobile, 2009 was the year of the iPhone. 2010 will be the year of Android
  5. In the second half to the year, venture capital will once again start flowing to fund innovative startups, ready to disrupt large industries. We will see a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the “local” space throughout the year.
  6. Human resources will be an issue in large media organizations. Hiring and retaining talent that understand the shift to mobile and social will be strategic. Entrepreneurial profiles and rewarding risk-taking will have to become the norm.

For those of you that would like to know more about Sebastien Provencher, here is his bio…
Continue reading Loci2009: Seb Provencher’s Inspirational Local Developments in 2009 and Predictions for 2010

Local Links of Interest

MapQuest: A Symbol Of Everything That’s Gone Wrong – John McKinley, Silicon Valley Insider

John McKinley, a former AOL President of Digital Services, offers a concise and pointed critique of Mapquest’s loss of market dominance and what needs to be done about it.

Local Search Behavior by Industry Category – David Mihm, Mihmorandum

Do the IYPs offer any real value? David highlights a chart from a Comscore/TMP study that seems to indicate so, primarily in industries that have low web penetration. I am not buying but see what you think…

Windows Mobile 6.5 — Obsolete Already? Ian Paul, PC World

With Windows Mobile 7 coming out so soon, some people may just forget about Mobile 6.5 altogether and wait for the more advanced system. This is particularly problematic for Microsoft, since it’s already clear that Windows 6.0 and 6.1 device owners won’t be able to run Mobile 6.5. So if Mobile 7 is also going to require a new device, then why not wait a few more months for the newer system?

Hello?

Local Search Directories List emarketingmatador.com

Has put together a great reference list of US local, directories, IYP & upstream data provider sources that one should consider when planning a local campaign. Minor quibble: the only source missing was iBegin.com. While I like and use UBL, I think you should take control of Google (and a few others) as it is far too critical in the successful campaign mix.

Explore more with User Photos in Street View – Google Lat-Long

Google has been integrating Panoramio images into Maps and Maps Business Listings for a while. Now they are integrating them with Streetview. Greg Sterling has an interesting comparison of this new feature with Micorosoft Live’s Photosynth at SearchEngineLand.com

Local in a Ford Near You

As the pricing for GPS and computer chips drop we have seen computers moving into a range of new situations from TV boxes to your iPod. The capability is now moving into automobiles as well and in this context, Local makes lots of sense. Ford is at the forefront of making this technology widely available in its cars with its Sync technology.

David Berkowitz of Clicktoday did a recent interview with Doug VanDagens of Ford Motor Company. It is clear that Ford has made a commitment to making this technology available in every vehicle at a very low price. Just bring your own voice plan. From the interview:

David Berkowitz: Good, thanks? Do you just want to share what you’re doing?

DV: ….What we’re announcing here at the show is an ability to connect to the internet through a normal voice plan. So all you need is your phone, and we can take Sync through Bluetooth, connect to your phone, connect out to Tellme, which is a voice portal – a best in class voice portal, and Microsoft now owns those assets. From there we can direct you to a number of Internet data sources. We can send the GPS information from the vehicle, we can send health report diagnostic information over your voice plan, and then we have traffic, directions, business search, and information, all internet-based.

DB: This seems unusual to me at least. I don’t follow the automotive industry that closely, but it seems that when a new feature comes out, it’s on your premium model.

DV: Correct. So when we first introduced Sync, we introduced it on the Focus, and the young people loved it, right? It’s a connection to an MP3 player, hands-free cellular calling. This is the same thing. It’s free on every one of our vehicles. There’s another automaker that announced some services similar to this, but it’s only available on their high-end luxury cars. This service is going to be available on every one of our vehicles, free for three years.

You’ll have access to the internet information. You can personalize it. If you want news you can go in and say “I want technology news,” “I want business news.” It’ll be read to you. You can get sports, news, weather. Later this year we’re going to introduce movies and stock prices.

You can get navigation information, so you can go out and say, “Find me the closest Starbucks,” and it will go out, based on your location, and find the closest Starbucks to you, analyze the traffic conditions, tell you how to get there the fasest way, and download the directions to your car. The call will end, and now you’ll get turn-by-turn directions. It will say, “Turn right at 200 yards,” “Turn right now,” it will take you anywhere you want to go. It will do business search – you can get the phone number, and all of this is free for three years.

DB: Does this work in conjunction with GPS or more as a replacement?

DV: We’ve added GPS in all of our vehicles. Starting in January, all of our new vehicles will have GPS. So we send the location from the car so we know where you’re at. You can say things like, “Search nearby,” and they’ll find anything that you want nearby. You can do a business search, you can do it by category, you can do it by actual business name, by proximity. So you can say, “Find me an Italian restaurant.”

It will not be long before it will become necessary to optimize your site for viewing at 65 mph while heading down the highway in search of the perfect pizza parlor. Ford, the strongest of the US automakers, has over the past few years been improving their quality and unlike Chrysler or GM, actually leading for a change.

Sign me up!

Loci 2008: The year in Local from Michael Jensen’s Point of view

Michael Jensen- @mdjensen on Twitter, is co-founder of SoloSEO.com, an SEO toolset and project management platform.

Michael has a strong interest in local and mobile search, and blogs about Local Search and Local SEO. Michael is also behind LeaveFeedback.org, a free service for local businesses to help improve online customer feedback, customer reviews, and local search rankings.

One of Michael’s hobbies is developing Twitter tools such as LiveTwitting.com, TweetMarks.com, and TweetBeep.com. TweetBeep.com is like Google alerts for Twitter, and is a free service used by thousands of users for tracking conversations about you, your interests, your websites, your products, and your company. Since developing TweetBeep.com, Michael has consulted for both large and small companies in using search marketing and social media for online reputation management.

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How to Create Effective Local Business Landing Pages
by Dev Basu (@devbasu on Twitter)
Best practices for landing pages for local.

Some Yellow Pages Usage Data: Print v. IYP
by Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide on Twitter)

Bulk Update Your Yellow Pages Data or Pay Someone Else To Do It?
by Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide on Twitter)

IYP Reach in the US (according to Google)
Very awesome numbers that show who the big players are (City Search, YP, SuperPages, Yelp, Local and who’s not.

Search Engine Optimization Means Business
About a local DUI specialty practice employing online tactics to bring in tons of clients.

Local Search – How to Totally Own in Google (Notes and Slides)
A great list of things to do if you’re going to do local.

The “BCS” for Local Search Engine Optimization
by David Mihm (@davidmihm on Twitter)
David rocks, period. Another home run (or should I say touchdown).

3 Things Your Local Business Can Offer That the Internet Can’t
by Miriam at Solas Web Design
Thorough discussion on local businesses’ edge over Internet only stuff

How to Use Yahoo Local to Rank in Google Local and Vice-Versa
by Andrew Shotland (@localseoguide on Twitter)

Local SEO (Local Search) at Small Business Marketing Unleashed (Conference notes)
by Will Scott (@w2scott on Twitter)
Great notes, and everyone loves Will. Everyone should know Will.

Why Local Is Different (Notes from SES NY 2008)
by Lisa Barone (@lisabarone on Twitter)
A great read with some good nuggets in there. Pre-Webuildpages days for Lisa.

New Local Search News Site

Steve Espinosa, the world’s biggest Chicago White Sox fan, local search expert and a frequent speaker on Local at the many conferences, has just rolled out a new local search site called Local Search News. It will be an everything local site with both tactical and strategic information on Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Local SEO, Mobile and Local Search.

It looks to become a staple in the world of Local Search.

Loci 2008- Greg Sterling’s Significant Developments in Local in 2008

Greg Sterling is a widely respected industry consultant in Local, Local Search & Local Mobile. He writes prolifically at his blog, Screenwerk, Local Mobile Search and SearchEngineLand where is a contributing editor. He plays a significant role in organizing SMX Local and the local tracks at the other SMX conferences.
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I’m not a “search practitioner.” I write more about the “industry” and the business side of “local search,” among other aspects of online marketing. My perspective is therefore somewhat different than Mike’s other invited list-makers. There are lots of great tactical and advice pieces in the lists that David Mihm and Matt McGee presented.

I’m going to take a somewhat different approach here and mention posts (some by me) that identify important issues or broader developments in the segment.

But first, Local Search Ranking Factors and Mike’s own Cracking the Code are perhaps the two most significant local search marketing posts of the year.

In terms of developments, I would say that Google opening up Maps to community editing was also highly significant from several perspectives. But it brought with it numerous problems. Mike has thoroughly documented the challenges Google has encountered with mapspam and hijacking that have come in the wake of opening up Maps.

While the local segment isn’t synonymous with “small business,” small businesses continue to struggle with online marketing and search marketing in particular. This is a significant issue that will persist for some time to come.

The most popular post to date on my blog, from late 2007, is No Yelpers Says One Local Café. It points to the growing challenge of local user reviews and how to deal with them. Another popular and somewhat controversial post on my blog was The End of SMB Websites, which asked whether stand-alone websites are necessary or whether rich landing pages could more effectively do the job for small businesses.

Another significant event, that hasn’t quite happened yet, is the coming of precise location awareness to the browser and the OS. Chrome has it today and so will the next release of Firefox. Windows 7 the forthcoming successor to Vista will also employ various strategies to get at user location. This “baked in location” will eventually be meaningful for SEO and SEM – SEO in particular.

Interestingly nobody (so far) has said anything about mobile. Arguably mobile is the most significant thing that is happening right now in the local space. The iPhone has gotten everyone’s attention and made “mobile search” a reality. And though it’s still a somewhat “embryonic” segment, mobile will become of equal or greater importance to local over time.

This short piece I wrote for iMedia makes the case for mobile marketing and argues that mobile marketing today is somewhat analogous to search several years ago.

Happy New Year.

Most Read Posts of 2008

Most Read New Articles in 2008

Here are the 10 articles (who picked 10 as the appropriate number, anyways?) written in 2008  that received the most readership during the past year. Readership and traffic have moved up significantly compared to last year, growing along with the broader interest in Local. My Top 10 most read stories of 2008 were viewed a total of 19206 times compared to 11337 Top 10  viewings in the 2007. Pageviews and visits increased ~107% year over year.  As you can see from the numbers on these, the most popular articles, my readership is still a niche. 

But Local is a a growing & exciting niche and one where much of the future of the internet lays. On this blog I write to the professionals and aficionados within that niche. That allows me to interact with the many people in the Local space that are forging much of what Local will be. It has been an incredibly fun year meeting and engaging those Localites in person, on the phone and on my blog. To these many folks that have shared their ideas with me and the readers of this blog, sent me visitors and contributed to the local space I say: Thanks for a great year & thanks for helping me understand and learn as much as I have!

Article Title Original Date of Publication Times Read
Microsoft Listing in Google Maps Hijacked! oops by me
2008/10/30 4867
Google Maps to provide complete voter information for upcoming election 2008/09/20 2579
Google Maps: New Local 10 Pack Now Live 2008/01/22 2124
Google Maps: Category Mystery Now solved (Part 3) 2008/02/07 1407
Google Maps Announces Quality Guidelines and Reinclusion Option 2008/09/16 1339
Google Plus box: Where Does the Wrong Data Come from 2008/03/06 1218
Google Maps: Local Business Center Updated with New Interface 2008/06/13 1183
Google Maps: Local Business Center Updated with New Interface 2008/08/04 1141
Google Maps: KML for Authority and Ranking 2008/08/07 1042
Google Maps now Using TeleAtlas Data Exclusively 2008/09/19 900

 

Most Read New Articles in 2008 from Previous Years

Articles in the blogosphere often have a very short shelf life. Sometimes, you spend countless hours in research and writing an article and it seems to barely cause a blip in the scheme of things at the time it is published. The 10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm was one such article. But it manages to find readers 18 months after it was written and it still has relevance. Here are the 5 stories from a time long, long ago that were the most read this year

Most Read New Articles in 2008 from Previous Years Original Date of Publication Times Read
10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm 2007/02/16 2101
First Case of Large Scale Abuse at Google Maps 2007/07/27 1247
Which On-line Directories Provide Details to Google Maps 2006/11/21 908
Google Coupons Now has Searchable Interface 2007/10/27 883
Extraneous Results from the Restaurant Review Research 2006/12/14 709

SMB PPC Ad Spend Drop

Noa Gertin of Palore has recently completed some interesting research on SMB PPC ad spends. They looked at over 3000 SMBs who advertise online, on different websites, out of which they focused on 300 businesses who also advertised on search engines in the past 5 months. They filtered out nationwide chains and all SMBs with more than one office location and only looked at PPC advertising, not longer term advertising commitments. That not withstanding, the drop is significant.

Average Monthly Search Engine Ad spend

Their methodology does not allow one to extrapolate all SMB spending in all internet mediums but gives an idea of the rapid contraction in a certain sector of the advertising economy amongst a clientele (the one store operation) that can make these quick decisions. I would love to see a plot comparing these 300 with the other 2700 businesses that were surveyed to see the difference.