March 25, 2008
Google’s addition of the Local 10-Pack piqued my curiosity about its affect on Maps visitation. As I reported yesterday, according to Hitwise, visitation has gone up on the order of 21% since January 23rd.
This begged the question of, at whose expense was this market share gain by Google. In the past MapsQuest has suffered in direct proportion as Google has gained market share in the mapping world. Yesterday, Heather Hopkins, Hitwise provided a current chart comparing market share of Mapsquest, Google, Yahoo & MSN:
â€¢Google’s market share has increased 1.98% since the January 5th.
â€¢Mapquest’s share has declined 2.03% in that same time period.
â€¢Yahoo’s share has increased .05%, mostly since March 6th.
Clearly, the 10-Pack had its desired affect for Google of passing more users into Maps and away from Mapquest. That was to be expected and had been seen in most previous Google “upgrades”. The rate of change though, if it continues, is alarming and could portend a Google leadership position in the mapping market sooner rather than later.
More surprising to me was the upward bounce that Yahoo received from their March 6 Local announcement (see: Yahoo! Maps Updated With New Data and Functionality!) and the obvious effect that it has had on MapQuest’s market share.
Yahoo Local had been in a steady market share decline for the previous year. This upward swing indicates that it is still a 3 horse race and that MapQuest needs to be looking over their shoulder for both Google and Yahoo. Perhaps Yahoo can stem the general downward trend in their market share with their promised upgrades in 2008.
A 2% loss of market share in less than 2 months does not bode well for Mapquest maintaining its market leading position if its makert share erodes with every upgrade from both Google and Yahoo.
Here is the January 5th Market share chart from Hitwise chart for comparison:
March 21, 2008
Googleâ€™s LBC: Now With More Fiber- Mike Boland, Kelsey Group
A good summary of how the inclusion of video in the Google LBC can benefit local search marketing. Interestingly, he points out that Google was allowing (c)ompanies such as TurnHere and eLocalListing were already uploading this content for their SMB clients via direct partnership, but this essentially makes it possible for more firms to do it with less friction.
State-of-the Art: Trends in Mobile Search – Jeff Quip, AimClear Blog
An good summary of the session at SES New York 2008 search marketing conference. Outlines in broad details the history & future of the mobile search market and why it makes sense to be there now
Google search plug-in for Windows Mobile promises more of the same – Tim Conneally, BetaNews
Notes the availability of a plug-in for Windows Mobile devices, which provides a shortcut on the home screen to Google’s search. He also provides anectdotal reports of Google mobile search dominance and how this supports that dominance.
New comScore IYPÂ Data – Greg Sterling, Screenwerk
The numbers indicate that Yellowpages.com network have a significant share of the IYP searches. But it is hard to tell since as Greg points out “(t)hese traffic data donâ€™t capture local search on the main search engines, which is where much of the local query volume is.”
700MHz Non-Surprise: Verizon & AT&T Win Auction Blocks – Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch
Google’s wireless-auction loss called possible win – Eric Auchard, Reuters
Google Inc’s losing bid for coveted wireless airwaves may prove a victory for the Web search leader as it still stands to get access to mobile networks without spending tens of billions of dollars to build one, analysts said on Thursday.
Wall Street analysts said the Silicon Valley Internet search and advertising giant has succeeded in forcing open network requirements upon winning bidder Verizon Communications via Google’s apparent strategy of “bidding to lose.”
March 18, 2008
March 13, 2008
Apple’s announcement of their software development kit was big in the tech news arena but got scant coverage in the search world. From where I sit, it appears to be a seminal event that will define local search for the next decade and will lead to a dramatic upsurge in hyper local searches.
There was much speculation about the iPhone tools prior to their release and developers expressed fears about limited access and undocumented api’s. Apple seems to have exceeded developer expectations on that front and delivered a product that can access all of the capabilities of the iphone and iPod Touch while simultaneously offering low barriers to entry and ready distribution. The SDK, despite its early bugs, appears to have been widely embraced and there are significant rewards in the offing to the developers that create popular apps.
The release has moved the iPhone from being a very cool cell phone to being the archetype of the mobile internet device; always on, always present, no limits to what or when something can be retrieved. It will put gaming, calling, music AND search in the hands of users all the time in every location and will (or something very much like it), like the iPod before it, become annoyingly present in our lives.
March 6, 2008
One of the more vexing problems in local search has been erroneous address & phone data showing for a bricks & mortar location in the main Google search results in the Plus Box. For a screen shot of the issue click here.
Small business owners have flocked to the Google Maps for Business Group in search of answers on the apparently untrue assumption that the data in the Plus Box comes from the Local Business Center record.
I recently theorized that the primary source for this erroneous information was the business website itself. That seems true as far as it goes. Apparently though there are other web “signals” that will trigger the Plus Box and if a business has relocated in the past several years it is likely that the information will be wrong, even if the website and the Local Business Center record has been correctly updated.
This recent request to the Google Maps for Business Group motivated me to look deeper into where this information might come from if not the business’s website. It appears that the source is either a high page rank directory site with a Maps API display or one of the many Yellow Page resources that Google uses as a secondary, confirming source for address information.
The upshot is that the (incorrect) Plus Box data appears to come from:
â€¢Secondary business listing data suppliers to Google like the YellowPages
â€¢High PageRank Directories that use a Google Maps API to geolocate the incorrect address
These sources would need to be changed for Google to “get it right”. There may be other sources but a creative search of Google should turn those up. I would suggest your prioritize your “cleansing” efforts by the list above. In this particular case, I found 62 web references to the wrong address. I do not think that all need to be changed.
Clearly Google could simplify this correction process in a number of ways. They could simply prioritize Local Business Center data when they have it. Barring that choice, they could provide details as to the sources of their data so that it could be purged more easily from the index.
The current system of begging in the Groups is obviously an inadequate response to a problem that from the SMB’s perspective is pressing. It is particularly so when customers end up at the wrong address due to the erroneous Plus Box. In these cases the business complaint should be addressed immediately and the business treated as a partner that helps Google generate accurate data.
Here is the original query from the Maps Group in its entirety and my research and response:
March 4, 2008
KML: HTML for the Geoweb – Christopher Schmidt, TechnicalRamblings
KML has become the â€œHTMLâ€ of the Geographic Web. With limited semantic meaning, a combination of mostly-human understandable XML tags for the majority of the usages, widespread use and abuse for purposes far beyond the original thoughts and intentions of the designers, and more, KML fits well into the geographic version of the niche filled by HTML in more generalized content publishing.
Beneficiaries of UGC in Map and Location Updating – MDob, Exploring
This is part of series on the implication, benefits, winners and loosers in having users updating Mapd and Business listing data.
Yahoo! onePlace Offers Front Door to Mobile Internet – Greg Sterling LocalMobileSearch
One of the many things holding the cell phone back from being a functional internet and search platform in the terrible user experience. This product might solve some of that for non iPhone users.
Do Ratings Matter PartÂ Deux – Greg Sterling, Screenwerk
Yahoo’s response to Greg’s response to Matt’s posting:
- Ratings (stars) always matter and factor into the presentation of ranked local results in Shortcuts/Direct Display and Yahoo! Local.
- Most of the time the local results presented in search results and in Yahoo! Local will be identical (top three) but not 100% of the time.
- Reviews/review text donâ€™t factor as a weighted variable in the algorithm for the presentation of local results via Shortcuts but may, on occasion, play a part in the ordering of results on Yahoo! Local.
February 24, 2008
Google Local Maps Is Not Yellow Pages – Miriam Ellis, SEO Igloo
An insightful piece on the conflict between SMB expecations and reality in Google Maps and what Google can do to help improve the situation.
In the “not every Map Idea is a Good Map Idea” Category:
My Neighbors are Nucking Futs – Jerrold, blogto.com
Sometimes truly ill-conceived ideas meet easily-accessed technology and make it to the web. Rotten Neighbors (pardon the American spelling) is one such not-so-bright idea that somehow made it through development and has gone live online.The idea is simple. Using the Google Maps interface, you point to a house or building and tell the world how crazy/sleazy/ugly/horny/etc the occupants are.
Why Google Apps is a Serious Threat to Microsoft Office – Bernard Lunn, ReadWriteWeb.com
Not only is Google miles ahead of MS on collaboration, they have moved ahead on mobile access. I have long believed that mobile would be a key driver for Web Office. Now I can get access to my Docs from my Blackberry. When I switch to an iPhone with that bigger screen, I will be able to say â€œsayonaraâ€ to my laptop even more. In that world, MS Office looks like a real dinosaur.
February 23, 2008
I ran across this ad for a “Local Search Expert” this morning in the Houston Craig’s List:
This ad intriuged me on a number of levels. One could draw conclusions about the SEM industry, the Local 10-Pack or the need for qualified pros in major markeets.
But the takeaway for me was that Local has arrived. Local is no longer just the province of hotels, restauarants and florists. The percieved value of this type of exposure has reached into the deepest levels of the local business world. For a roofing company to be willing to pay for the service inidcates to me the changing perception and reality that is local.
February 21, 2008
Google to add video to local business record in Maps – Mike The Internet Guy
Donâ€™t Pee in the Pool. Responsible Social Media Marketing - Marty Weintraub , AimClearBlog
I have never really engaged in social media marketing. When I wanted to I asked Marty for advise and was impressed with his understanding of it. This article really strikes home and while social media marketing has not yet had a huge role in local SEM, it will going forward and this is great advice.
Google Maps Street Video a funny look at the creeping intrusion of technology in our lives (thanks to Mark Lehr of WandInc.com via Greg Sterling )
View the Super Delegates on Google Maps – Rick Klau, Superdelegates.org (Thanks to Google Earth Blog)
February 18, 2008
Evidence Clear: Better Usability = More Mobile Internet Usage – Greg Sterling Localmobilesearch.com
AT&T Mobility president and CEO Ralph de la Vega reportedly told audience members at the GSMA Mobile World Congress Thursday that 95% of iPhone owners surf the mobile Web, although only 30% had done so before. About half have also watched videos on the iPhone via YouTube.
Google Gets What It Wanted from C-Block Auction – Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch
[Google] doesnâ€™t have to build the infrastructure but it may reap the benefits of the required openness attaching to the C-Block of 700 MHz spectrum…..That winner will have to allow â€œany legal deviceâ€ to access the network. Thus any Android phone would be allowed to operate, as well as devices such as the iPod Touch or perhaps the iPhone itself.Â
Local Search Keyword AnalysisÂ – ConvertOffline.com
A nice piece of research showing the relative frequency and structure of Sevice+Locale and Locale+Service searches.