Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Yext – List your email everywhere‎

We recently embarked on a clean up campaign across the internet  for a client that had serious NAP issues. We used a corporate email address that forwarded to me. Somewhere along that line whether by hook or by crook or an errant check box, Yext picked up our email address.

And started spamming me.

7 days, 5 emails showing me exactly how problematic our listing is. While in some senses, this client is a qualified prospect, it is totally unclear how we managed to get subscribed to Yext’s email list and unclear why I now get almost one email a day from them.

I did send an inquiry off to Yext but they have not yet responded. Howard, whaz up?

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Continue reading Yext – List your email everywhere‎

Why I Bought at Walmart and What Does It Say About the Future of Retail

walmart-logo-wallpapers-a-e-ibackgroundz.comI wanted a bike rack for my Honda Fit. I was going on vacation and wanted to bring our bikes. I also, having worked many years in a family owned business, wanted to buy it locally. Sometimes it just isn’t possible. Here’s my story of how I ended up shopping at WalMart despite my very best intentions.

On the Friday, three weeks before heading out to Chautuaqua Institute ( a gem of a place by the way) I called Just Ride Along (aka Pete’s Bike Shop). Seemed like plenty of time. It is the nearest serious bike store and it is located in the next town over about 15 miles away. It is a locally owned shop that carries high quality biking equipment and provides full service. I wanted to buy just once, not have to install it myself and wanted something that was well made so Pete’s seemed like the right place. He is the only “real” bike shop for many miles.

I called, he had some Thules in stock. We discussed the issues and I learned that I needed to identify whether my hitch (which I also needed installed) was a 1.25 or 2″ ball. He had both size racks in stock so I just needed (or so I thought) to get the hitch installed. He said that he wouldn’t need to set one aside as he had plenty of them.

The following Monday I called Dixie Auto, a local garage that specialized in hitches and trailer. I had to leave a message for Fred. He managed to call me back on the following Wednesday and told me the hitch would be in 5 days and he could install it then. I thought, a little annoying that it took 2 days to call me back but no worries. It would make it in by Tuesday which would leave me plenty of time to get over to Bradford and pick up the rack  and have it installed before my Sunday departure.

Well it didn’t come in until Wednesday and I couldn’t get down there until Thursday to get the hitch on. Still no worries as I figured I could head over to Pete’s on Saturday. Which I did.

Only to find a hand written sign taped to Pete’s door noting that he was on vacation and he would be back in a week. Now I recognize that Pete chose a lifestyle not slavery but his closing his doors from January to March always seemed to fill that bill in my mind. What was a bike store doing closing during August?

Stranded, not sure what to do I discovered the nearest Thules were at least 50 miles away. Hmm.. frustrated I ran over to Walmart in Bradford and they had a Bell hitch mounted rack, with the right diameter in stock. $100 less. But I had to do the assembly myself. For me living better isn’t about saving money its about saving the frustration of self assembly and getting a durable product that will last forever.

OK. What choice did I have as I was leaving the next day? I can do it, I told myself. I took the sucker home despite Walmart being my absolute last choice of purchase location and started the assembly. No written instructions, pictures only and after I had made 5 mistakes on a 4 instruction process I managed to get it installed.

While I was sitting there assembling the rack, the lawn mower repair company (A1 Rental – who names their company A1 any more) that had taken 2 months to pick up my lawn mower and another one to fix it, delivered the repaired mower. Seemed ironic as I was cursing Pete. That is a story for another day but pick up and delivery is part of the reason that I use them. They just can’t seem to remember that I called (and called and called and called) and asked for a pick up….

Lawn mower in the garage and the bike rack on the car I decided to reward myself for a job well done and head down to the locally owned cupcake shop for some coffee. Upon arrival the sign on the door said: Closed. On vacation.

So why did I buy from WalMart when that was the last thing I wanted to do? Because they do what they do very well. So well that any local business has trouble competing.

They are open 24 hours (and they don’t go on vacation). They have great logistics and inventory control. Even though this Walmart is out in the weeds, they had the one thing I needed. They agreed to take it back if I couldn’t assemble it. In fact they agreed to take it back at the Walmart closer to my house. They were there when I needed the product and they were able to deliver it with reasonable return options.

If I had known the difficulties I would have run into I would have ordered the product from the other company that has their logistic and process act together (and better quality stuff), Amazon.

I used to run a local, family business. I know how hard it is. I don’t fault these local business folks for their vacations or their lack of rigor in their processes. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay ahead of the inventory, scheduling and logistic advantages that the WalMart & Amazons of the world enjoy. Despite my best effort to buy from a local shop, it will happen less and less.

Olean, with its 15,000 people, once was a retail mecca. Starting around the turn of the new century and perhaps before most of the old, post WW II retailers had retired, many businesses were shutting down from the pressures of WalMart and the big box stores and it got harder and harder to find a good local retail store.

The day of the small rural local retailer has passed. But I think that the issues that I confronted in my purchase are now affecting every retailer, everywhere. What was a rural phenomenon, the closing of retail shops is now going on in urban areas as well.

The urban bookstore was the first to go. But others are leaving as well. The day of the large retailer, the likes of Staples, Sears, KMart and Best Buy seem to be coming to an end. What has already happened in Olean will continue to work its way out in every city as retailers fail.

The advantages of scale, logistics, preferential vendor t & c’s, sale per employee etc that WalMart and Amazon have accrued due to their size will continue the consolidation. Retail businesses small and large will become fewer as the movement and sale of products is consolidated into the hands of a few that are truly expert at the processes needed to get products into the hands of consumers and take them back if they don’t work.

I suppose there could always be high end bike shops and local repair shops down the road but as the likes of Amazon & WalMart move into new market places even those will be threatened. And move into new markets they must. Every product in every category is a target for them and once they are done with that they will target the services. Consolidation has taken longer in the physical world than it took in the online world.

But it seems to be on its way.

LocalU Bootcamp at SMX – Sept 29th in New York

On September 29th, we’re rolling out a new classroom-style training event in conjunction with SMX East – Local U Boot Camp in New York City.

REGISTER WITH CODE WS-LUA10 FOR A 10% DISCOUNT

LocalU Bootcamp is the only workshop of its kind and provides the knowledge, processes and tools needed to help your business and the businesses of your clients prosper in Local Search. If you’re looking to develop a career in Local SEO or want to refine your current processes, this is the workshop for you. It’s also a great way to train new staff or cross-train existing staff in local search in one day. 

See full LocalU Bootcamp Agenda here.

You’ll enjoy a small group setting, concise presentations, plenty of Q & A time, complete access to the presenters, topic roundtables and the opportunity to speak directly with some of Google’s local team.

Join David Mihm, Mary Bowling, Will Scott, Mike Ramsey, Joel Headley and Ben Pavious and Abhishek Poddar of Google for this full day of learning.

If you’ve attended a Local University event in the past, you already know how valuable the knowledge you gain and contacts you’ll make at an event like this can be! 

We’re capping attendance, so register soon to avoid disappointment. 

 

Crap Google Results & Yelp

Yelp is obviously very, very good with their SEO. They apparently have the ability to sculpt their internal link values to highlight what appear to be the most popular local businesses in the Google local results.

Apparently their ability to do that in their strongest markets is even greater than elsewhere.

These results, first highlighted by Matt Storms on G+ (h/t to Max Minzer)  well before the current local algo update and they are still seen in the SERPS. They reflect on Yelp’s ability to manipulate the search results and reflect poorly on Google’s acceptance of those practices. Yelp, though, needs to be careful of soiling the bed in which they sleep. Although I suppose they could fall back on their all too successful (but BS) cry wolf strategy if Google were to clamp down.

Look at these searches (I am sure you can find more):

Some Thoughts on the YP industry & Google in Europe

I am just returning from the SIINDA conference in Budapest. SIINDA is the newly formed association born out of the combined efforts of the EASDP, the European Association of Search and Database Publishers (YPs), and EIDQ, the Association for the Directory Information. Most of the attendees at the conference were Yellow page companies that were in various states of conversion from print to digital. Many were fairly far along and appeared to be succeding with the transition. It was an incredible personal AND work learning experience.

One of the speakers was Karen McGrane, who if you haven’t followed you should. She has really thought through the idea of systems to allow content to be re-purposed and right purposed. A critical question for any pre-digital organization that is sitting on a ton of great content as well as new media companies.

Budapest and Hungary are amazing places. Budapest has incredible architecture and cultural assets. Their public transportation made moving around the city a breeze. As far as local tools there, Yelp was a non starter in terms of usefulness and Google’s leading position in all aspects of local were obvious – tourist information, mapping, navigation, listings and reviews. Apple Maps, due to their weak set of POIs, was a non starter as well. I tried it on my first day to take my wife to a nearby restaurant/poi for her birthday dinner and realized that it just wasn’t going to cut it.

Interestingly Apple had three people in attendance (but not speaking) at the conference including one from Cupertino that joined Apple from Locationary. When I asked several of the Apple employees if their attendance was an indication of coming activity on the local front I was obviously answered with non answers. Equally interesting though was when I broached the topic with several of the participants (mostly data providers) and they also felt compelled to note that they were unable to respond. Hopefully Apple is picking up some decent local POI data sets that will make their product more useful in Europe.
Continue reading Some Thoughts on the YP industry & Google in Europe

Good News, Bad News in the Apple Mapping & Business Listing World

A client, having re-located to a new sub division, contracted with me early last spring to get their new street “on the map” and to clean their NAP. Google, with the help of Dan Austin (a partner on the project) picked up the new streets in about 2 weeks and went live to Maps immediately after. The change of address was equally speedy. OpenStreetMap was about the same.

TeleAtlas, which Apple uses, and Navteq-Here both took almost 6 months to give acknowledgement of the fact that the street reality had changed, another 3 months to get their base maps updated and then with each of their down stream users it was a crap shoot. MapQuest picked up the new streets in January, 2014. Yahoo Maps in February and Apple finally picked up the change this past week. We are talking over a year and nearly a year for Yahoo and Mapquest. Bing, well… we are still waiting for Bing Maps. That’s the Apple (and industry) bad news. Bad but not as bad as Bing and about the same as everyone else. And solely due to their partner TeleAtlas.  Although it does not appear that Nav-Teq-Here is any better.

But here is the Apple good news. Once the base street map was correct, we reported the changed address and had a response and a fix in two days. And not just a response but a direct feedback sent to my iPhone. Nice. It actually felt like the Apple service to which we have grown accustomed and that would distinguish them in the market (Google are you listening?). This is not the first report of Apple upping their listing game.

Now if they can get TeleAtlas to fix stuff as quickly we would be going someplace. Or rather we could get there using Apple Maps.

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