September 9, 2008
One of the struggles of researching local marketing is the fact that I frequently misspell the word Restaurant. I am obviously not the only one. I searched today for Pittsburgh Pa RestuarantsÂ to find this Authoritative OneBox:
The record has not been claimed by the business owner as of yet but it made me curious how widely the error had penetrated the Internet. On the searchÂ ”Arby’s Roast Beef Restuarants” it cropped up 33 times including Yelp and Allpages.com amongst others.
This search result put several issues in sharp relief for me:
1-Google’s Authoritative Onebox is far less than perfect and predicates its results too heavily on business title.
2- Once an error like this crops into one electronic directory, it crops into many. It will be an annoying problem for the business owner to solve.
3- Now more than ever, it is critical to double check your marketing message before you hit the return key!
September 8, 2008
Eric Enge has an informative and detailed interview today with Frazier Miller and Shailesh Bhat on the inner workings of Yahoo Local.
There were many items in the interview of interest and a number of notable contrasts with Google’s fully automated system.
Some of the highlights:
- Yahoo Local relies very heavily on the licensed feeds that they get through data providers like InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Localeze and these should be the primary sources for maintaing data accuracy in your Yahoo record.
- They “have human and manual moderation that goes on for changes, so … submissions all go through a moderation process where we look for patterns and we actually do validation of data to make sure it is accurate”. Google could learn from this approach!
- Categorization and consistency of keywords across data sources and your listing are key to ranking
For more key points from the interview ….
August 26, 2008
U.S. on Track to Top Mobile Net Market, Study Says – Steve McClellan, AdWeek.com
Why the change? Kerr cites several reasons, including the fact that U.S. mobile carriers are rapidly building out 3G networks, which facilitate the transmission of mobile Web-based video at faster rates, something that U.K. and other European-based carriers did years ago. Plus, newer handsets available in the U.S. offer higher quality reception of video and music and cheaper subscriber plans have boosted sign-ups among consumers, he said.
The most highly trafficked sites tend to be those offering news, sports and weather, with spikes occurring during rush hour and lunch breaks. “Growth in the U.S. has really come on strong in the last two years,” he said.
VoIP Goes Mobile – Olga Kharif, BusinessWeek.com
Gorilla, iCall, and a growing number of other services rely on what’s known as Voice over Internet Protocol technology that delivers speech via the Internet in much the same way as e-mail. VoIP calling is already raising a ruckus in telecommunications, putting pressure on the price of land-line calling and luring subscribers toward upstarts like Vonage (VG) and Comcast (CMCSA) away from incumbents such as AT&T, and Verizon (VZ). Now, the technology threatens to erode sales for mobile-phone service providers too.
Load Your User’s Location on the Map!Â - Pamela Fox, GooglegeoDevelopers
Wouldn’t it be better if the map could automatically center to my location without me lifting one of my precious fingers? The answer is yes, and now it’s easier to do than ever with the introduction of IP-based location information in the AJAX APIs framework
August 15, 2008
Polo Ralph Lauren to Launch Shopping by Cellphone – Reuters News Service
Polo is the first luxury retailer to launch a mobile commerce site, hoping to stay ahead of a trend that is making its way from Asia to the United States, said David Lauren, senior vice president of advertising and son of designer and Chief Executive Ralph Lauren.
5 Steps for 5 Stars: Reputation Management for Small Businesses
– David Mihm, davidmihm.com
A great summary and “a list of truly exceptional posts related to this topic written in the last couple of months, and summarizing their findings”.
Hyperlocal Blogging Sonoma County, CA – More SEO Copywriting Tips – Miriam Ellis, Solaswebdesign.com
The second part of a two part series on copywriting tips for hyperlocal blogging.
Smartphone Is Expected via Google NY Times
T-Mobile will be the first carrier to offer a mobile phone powered by Googleâ€™s Android software, according to people briefed on the companyâ€™s plans.
How Image-to-Text Could Be Used in Google Street View – Phillip Lenssen, blogoscoped.com
Google could be able to make the streets searchable through a normal text input box. If a club is called â€œFoobarâ€ and you enter â€œfoobarâ€, you may find the location even if itâ€™s not available from any existing yellow pages overview service.
June 16, 2008
Does the IYP/online business directory market share matter or has the battle already been decided? Has this category been relegated to just another niche search area where money can be made but market dominance is not possible?
A recent press release noted that www.local.com, ranked fifth in the Business Directories online industry category. This was based on the Hitwise analysis of market share of U.S. visits received at the internet yp sites in Q1, 2008. Greg Sterling at Screenwerks noted the other sites in the category as ranked by Hitwise in their results:
Business and Finance – Business Directories
I have small quibbles with these IYP comparisons. Maps.google.com has a tendency to be over counted due to its integrated mapping function and Yahoo tends to be undercounted due to the fact that it splits its local, yp and maps products into different urls. A resolution to this methodology issue is likely to move Yahoo local closer to first in this list but these are small details.
I see a much bigger problem in that it appears to me the battle for local business listings has already been won and not by the properties on the Hitwise list. These comparisons are simply measuring who has 1st, 2nd and perhaps third of the remaining, ever declining market share left to them by market leaders Google’s and Yahoo’s universal search results.
Here is my math….
June 11, 2008
When Will â€˜Mobile Searchâ€™ Overtake the Internet?Â - Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch.net
While it might take some time for mobile to pass Internet search in the US or Western Europe, in context of the entire world itâ€™s not hard to imagine mobile search volumes exceeding the desktop Internet, in the aggregate, within 5-7 years.
Google Goes Back to â€˜Opt-inâ€™ in MobileÂ - Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch.net
When Google first launched mobile AdWords it was an opt-in program: advertisers specifically had to choose to be in mobile sponsored search results. Then, in aÂ fairly well publicized move, Google decided to make mobile an opt-out for AdWords advertisers:
The company informed me last week that it has gone back to an opt-in policy for mobile at the present time.
I also discussed with Google the degree to which the desktop and mobile might ultimate become more similar than different, in the context of â€œfull HTMLâ€ browsers (Safari, Opera, Skyfire, Mozilla, Android). Weâ€™ll see. As Iâ€™ve tried to argue in the past, while there are some advantages in that scenario for users there are considerableÂ disadvantages for advertisersÂ â€” chiefly because online ads get lost and become very difficult to see.
The iPhone is probably the model of how smartphone browsing will evolve: native applications + full HTML browsing. But that still doesnâ€™t solve the problem for advertisers seeking to effectively reach mobile audiences.
Move Over Universal Search, Illustrated Search Is Smarter?Â - Bill Slawski,SEObyTheSea
The authors of these patent filings refer to this approach as a â€œsmart aggregation of search results by concepts.â€ In addition to helping searchers quickly understand different concepts related to their queries,and view different relevant content types from different sources, is also that focused advertisement can be presented.
What Googleâ€™s ZIP Code Targeting Means for Local BusinessesÂ - David Mihm,Â davidmihm.com
I take a look at some of the implications of this development, and expand on an earlier hypothesis about why Google introduced the 10-pack to Universal search in the first place. Yes, ZIP code targeting means more relevant results for searchers, but itâ€™s an innovation that might not be entirely altruistic.
June 10, 2008
Smartphones Now Ringing for Women – Laura M. Holson, NY Times
If recent history is any guide, roughly a third of the people snapping up Appleâ€™s new iPhone are likely to tote it in a purse.
In a big shift for the phone industry, women have emerged as eager buyers of not just iPhones but of all so-called smartphones â€” BlackBerrys, Treos and other models.
In the last year the number of American women using smartphones more than doubled to 10.4 million, growing at a faster pace than among men, according to Nielsen Mobile, which tracks wireless trends.
Apple’s $199 iPhone: How Can It Be So Cheap? – Yardena Arar, PC World
“There are probably subsidization issues going on here,” he said. In fact, AT&T in a news release issued today hinted that it would be taking a hit on revenues from device sales in hopes of increased profits down the line from data services to what’s anticipated to be a huge customer base.
“In the near term, AT&T anticipates that the new agreement will likely result in some pressure on margins and earnings, reflecting the costs of subsidized device pricing, which, in turn, is expected to drive increased subscriber volumes,” the news release states. It also points out that AT&T will no longer share revenue on iPhone services with Apple, and that the cost of an unlimited data plan for consumers will rise from the current $20 a month to $30 a month (on top of a voice plan available for $40 or more).”
This appears to be a razors and razor blades strategy with Apple picking up the extra commission. In rural areas with no 3g coverage this seems like a bad deal.
TomTom says navigation app already runs on iPhone – Reuters
Dutch navigation device maker TomTom already has a version of its navigation software running on Apple’s iPhone and has plans to sell it to consumers, a spokesman said on Monday.
“Our navigation system runs on the iPhone already,” the TomTom spokesman said after Apple announced a new version of the iPhone that will include global positioning (GPS) capability.
The spokesman did not say when TomTom, Europe’s biggest maker of car navigation devices, would be ready to start selling the software.
Active navigation will be an important application for accelerating iPhone adoption and will facilitate active search.
Google Mobile Advertising: Start Now! – David Szetela, Search Engine Watch
The first concept to grasp: mobile search ads can evoke three different actions:
- (The usual) click-through to the advertiser site
- A click that sends the “clicker” to a Google-supplied Business Page
- A click that immediately and automatically places a voice call to the advertiser’s phone number
The latter two options require zero web site development, and can be perfect options for certain advertiser types:
- Retail businesses that finish many/most of their transactions by phone, such as take-out restaurants, florists, or taxi companies.
- B2B businesses that crave phone leads. Sure, they need to have the processes and infrastructure to qualify and (hopefully) close clients within a call or tow — but many businesses do.
- B2C companies whose aspects straddle the previous two, like professional services: legal, financial, investment, etc.
Cell Services Keep It Easy, and Free – David Pogue, NY Times
A good overview of GOOG-411, Cha-Cha and Jott
June 9, 2008
I recently had a conversation with Doyal Bryant, one of the founders of Universal Business Listing.
Universal Business Listing is attempting to establish itself as a single stop for businesses to create one listing for use across the local internet. They want to become a business resource that providesÂ ”internet fresh data”Â to the various consumers of business data for local search. They charge up tp $30 for a business to create a listing with them and manage and track the listing for one year. They then provide these listings at no charge to the data collators like Axciom & InfoUsa, to the 411 providers like LLSI and to the Local engines like the YP’s, Yahoo and Google.
While the conversation was wide ranging, it helped me understand some of the “back story” on how data is handled across the internet and provided a few other interesting factoids:
â€¢ The primary data suppliers like InfoUSA and Axciom will often prioritize 6 or 9 month old telco data over “internet fresh” data.Â This has implications for any business changing their address or updating their DBA.
â€¢He noted that Yahoo and Google will prioritize their ad system’s address over other sources for that address. I wonder what would happen if there was a conflict between the the Local Business System and adwords.
â€¢ For one national rental company with 4000 locations that had actively attempted to manage their on-line listings there were still 200 that contained critical errors at any point in time. In other words there was a 5% error rate on basic information such as phone, street address etc. even when the company was engaged and attempting to keep them correct.
â€¢ He relayed a story about a major national insurer with agents & branches in most cities. By the insurance company’s calculations between 40% and 60% of all inquiries and contacts came via local search.
The takeaway? Local search is playing a huge role in local marketing for national firms but the current system for collecting and distributing data across the net to the end user guarantees that there will be errors in the data and delays in information propagating.Â
May 8, 2008
Â Small Business Marketing Success Story: Avante GardensÂ - Matt McGee, SearchEngineland
This interview with Cathy Rulloda is a great overview of good practices. Cathy is always at the forefront of using the internet for local marketing in the very tough florist arena and she more than holds her own.
Free-411 Rolls Out Dial DirectionsÂ NationallyÂ &Â Jingle Goes Nationwide with Dial DirectionsÂ - Greg Sterling, Screenwerks/Local Mobile
Against that backdrop Jingle needs to continue to develop, market and differentiate its service if it hopes to stay ahead of this increasing competition. One way it has sought to do that is byÂ offering Dial Directions service, which as of today is now available nationally: any location to any other location (by address or intersection).
I see Free 411 services as a critical bridge service between the phones of today and the mobile internet of tomorrow and the services use much the same data set that we have been working with. Greg offers this interesting chart of Free 411 intents:
How do we determine the names of things -Â Â Mikel Maron, BrainOff.com
A mid April post that takes a fascinating look at the politics and policies involved in naming places. What we often assume is an absolute in a Map is really Â a fluid, conflicted political & social battle. How does Google handle the conflicts that arise? How does OpenStreetMap do so? An eye opening and educational piece.
May 7, 2008
A Technology Consortium Plans a Wireless Network – Matt Richtel, NY Times
The consortium includes a disparate group of partners: Sprint Nextel, Google, Intel, Comcast, Time Warner and Clearwire….
They expect the network, which will provide the next generation of high-speed Internet access for cellphone users, to be built in as little as two years, but there is no timetable on when it will be available to users and the price is not determined. The partners are seeking to beat Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless to the market.
Sprint Scores Coup with WiMax Joint Venture – Greg Sterling, Local Mobile Search
Sprint and Google have also entered into an agreement related to Sprintâ€™s mobile services, whereby Google will become the default provider of web and local search services, both of which will be enabled with location information, for Sprint. Sprint will also preload several Google services – including Google Maps for mobile, Gmail and YouTube – on select mobile phones and provide easier access to other Google services.
Apple and AT&T to launch iPhone 3G a lot sooner than we thinkÂ - Boy Genius Report
AT&T reps just got an internal email stating that they would be unable to take vacation time from June 15th to July 12th”due to projected increased traffic and an exciting new promotion/product launch.”Â
The Ten Commandments of Online Marketing for Small & Local BusinesÂ - David Mihm,Â Mihmorandum
Step-by-step instructions for the small business just trying to get a handle on this whole internet marketing thing.Â (I missed this one while on vacation but it is worth looking at if you haven’t read it)