Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Local Links of Interest


Google News’ New Local Angle – Greg Sterling, SEL  detailing Google’s new local news service, similar to topix.com

In CBS Test, Mobile Ads Find Users  – Laura Holson, NY Times

CBS plans to announce on Wednesday that it is trying one of the first serious experiments with cellphone advertising that is customized for a person’s location. Its CBS Mobile unit is teaming up with the social networking service Loopt, which allows its subscribers to track participating friends and family on their mobile phones. 

Porn, not ‘localisation,’ is what users are searching for  – telecoms.com

Content, not local information, is what most users are looking for when using search on their phones. And, as on the fixed Internet, much of that content is pornographic, Farhad Divecha, director of search-engine-marketing agency AccuraCast, told delegates at the recent Mobile Search Conference, held in London. 

Study: Free Mobile Directory Assistance To Overtake Paid  – Mark Walsh, mediapost.com

MerchantCircle makes me feel…


Last week I received an automated email from Yahoo Local that hit the target for automated communications. It sent me relevant information in a timely fashion about something that I cared about. I was impressed. I had encouraged Google to follow a similar path. But alas not all surveys work equally well.

MerchantCircle must have been reading my blog as they also sent along a request to fill out a survey. While the email and survey were an improvement over MerchantCircle’s previous bait and switch (see here and here) promotional efforts the survey still didn’t quite make the grade. email.jpg

The survey questions all seemed pointed to MerchantCircle wanting to know how good of a prospect I was rather than what information I might provide to actually improve their service:

survey.jpg

MerchantCircle has a history of less than stellar promotions. This one, like all of theirs, came unsolicited and filled no particular need of mine. It seemed like they were more interested in my money than in my opinion. Again, another lesson to be learned. They are getting better, but still a ways to go.

I can only imagine what their sales promotion manager is like. Here is the full survey if you would like to look at all of the questions.

Yahoo Local makes me feel good


Many small business people feel embattled, besieged and forgotten. The move toward the “free” business listings of the Internet has removed one monkey from their back – the FUD of the Yellow Pages only to replace it with the inscrutable Google Maps.

Small business people hate standing in line and begging for help ala Google Maps for Business Group. Why isn’t my listing showing? Why can’t I get in the category of my competitor? How come my competitor has the only OneBox on the search results? The questions are asked but not often answered.

At some level Yahoo seems to understand what SMB’s feel better than Google. Last week after I modified a local listing with Yahoo they sent me this email: email.jpg

It made me feel good and I dare say would make most small business people feel the same. I knew that the listing was live, I had received an acknowledgment of my effort and they had reached out to me.

I recognize it for what it is: good but automated communications. None the less I felt a certain warm and fuzzy. There was a lesson to be learned here. I even took the time to take the survey and was further impressed. When taking the survey it seemed that they were sincere about wanting to know what I thought and that they did get what it takes to deal with small business folks. Continue reading

Mobile User Survey Redux: the Late Adopter


After Greg Sterling surveyed SEL readers on their mobile internet usage patterns, I thought it would be interesting to survey a totally distinct user group. Greg agreed and we surveyed the 1123 registered readers of OleanInfo.com, of those 124 took the survey. OleanInfo.com is a local portal site catering to folks interested in Olean NY. Roughly 80% of OleanInfo’s readership lives within 40 miles of Olean, NY, a small town in western NY State.

The readership was chosen for contrast with the SEL readers. Presumably they are rural or of rural origins and less technically oriented. They proved to be, as a group, classic “late adopters”. 85.8% of the OleanInfo respondents were over 40 and 58% over 50 and as a group had very low mobile internet use. This stood in contrast to the SEL readership that was 84% under 40 of which almost half access the mobile internet once per week or more.

Other highlights:

• 90% of respondents report using their cells to text message (thus they do sooner or later adopt)
• 0% penetration of the iPhone
• Very low (12%) penetration of traditional smartphones
• 87% had no mobile internet usage AT ALL
• 26% reported using Free DA and of those 32% used Goog-411 and 44% uses Free-411. (Remember that the Goog-411 billboard campaign took place in Olean)

A more complete write up of the data is available at SearchEngineLand: Comparing Mobile Search Surveys: Early Adopters Vs. Mainstream Users

Google Maps: RSS feeds of data into My Maps?


Updated 9:00 am 1/18

One of the on-going problems confronting any local search environment is the difficulty of keeping local data fresh. The many gyrations and the long path of local data before it actually shows up in Google Maps almost guarantees a persistent accuracy problem.

Imagine though local sites that are closer to the end user and with “fresher” data feeding that data in real time into a Google My Maps environment. The implications are significant as RSS feeds from local sites provide a way to provide a potential layer in Maps that is “guaranteed fresh”. (Credit goes to Greg Sterling for providing insight & clarity on this point.)

Well it appears that Google Maps is allowing a limited number of “trusted” partners to provide exactly such feeds directly into My Maps. Merchant Circle with reviews and coupons and Topix with news are providing RSS feeds of their data to Google Maps via My Maps.

Here is a screen shot of a Merchant Circle Coupon feed from Indianapolis that shows up in Google My Maps:

merchantcircleind.jpg

At the bottom of the feed this disclaimer appears:

Displaying content from feed.merchantcircle.com
The content overlaid onto this map is provided by a third party, and Google is not responsible for it.

To view this feed in Maps just click here: Local Activity for Indianapolis, IN. There appear to be similar feeds for every city that MerchantCircle covers. Just to clarify, these results from the feeds are showing up, mixed in with standard Community Map results. It is conceivable to me that at some point they will be further blended with standard Map results in the future. For example if you searched on Dr Joe’s Chiropractic Center Idaho Falls Id you will find one of the pins from the feed mixed into the results.

drjoe.jpg

Topix.com also seems to be providing feeds of news stories (see screen capture below) which offers up the interesting possibility of viewing news stories through a geo specific lens.

Continue reading

Local Links of Interest


The Chicken has Landed – Sandra Niehaus, Closed Loop Marketing on the role of linkbait worms as feed for surrogate rubber chickens.

Microsoft Takes ‘Local’ Targeting into Stores – Greg Sterling, Sreenwerk

What Does Your PPC Ad Say About You – Matt McGee, smallbusinesssem.com does a followup piece on MerchantCircle’s marketing stratgies.

Rural Verticals: The Shift of Small Town Auction Advertising – Peter at The Local Onliner

Introducing the Semmys  – Matt McGee of SmallbusinesSEM has introduced a new industry award.

Nominees in Local Search category: 2008 SEMMY Awards


2008 SEMMY NomineeThe following are the nominees in the Local Search category for the 2008 SEMMY Awards. The judge(s) will narrow this group down to 5-6 finalists. Congratulations to all nominees! Thanks for the recognition!

Local Links of Interest


Local SEO 2008 Predicitons - Andrew Shortland, LOC@LSEOGuide. Andrew is doing the fumes of Delphi Oracle thing.

Google Maps Gaining On Market Leader Mapquest – Greg Sterling, SearchEngineLand provides some great analysis about Google neutrality and technology in the maps market share mayhem.

iPhone specific web sites — do they make sense? – Martin Kleppmann, Yes-No-Cancel
Bill Gates and Company Want to Watch You Watch TV, Buy Groceries, and Use Your Credit Cards and Cell Phone (and Take Notes) – Bill Slawsk, SEOByTheSeal

Local Links of Interest


Yahooo Makes a New Play for Ads on Mobile Phones – Miguel Helft, NY times

Magellan Device Adds Google Local Listings – Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch

Google’s Lunchtime Betting Game – Noam Cohen NY Times
This has little to do with local but is an interesting research report on the use of prediction markets within Google.

According to the report, “Using Prediction Markets to Track Information Flows: Evidence From Google,” which was presented Friday at the American Economic Association meeting in New Orleans, the strongest correlation in betting was found among people who sat very close to one another, trumping even friendship or other close social ties.

This is tangible evidence, the authors argue, that information is shared most easily and effectively among office neighbors, even at an Internet company where instant messaging and e-mail are generally preferred to face-to-face discussion.

What Does 2008 Have In Store For Local? Greg Sterling, SEL

SEL Survey Data & Comparison


Mobile User Survey Redux: the Late Adopter

After Greg Sterling surveyed SEL readers on their mobile internet usage patterns, I thought it would be interesting to survey a totally distinct user group. Greg agreed and we surveyed the 1123 registered readers of OleanInfo.com, a local portal site catering to folks interested in Olean NY. Roughly 80% of OleanInfo’s readership lives within 40 miles of Olean, NY, a small town in western NY State.

The readership was chosen for contrast with the SEL readers. Presumably they are rural or of rural origins and less technically oriented. They proved to be, as a group, classic “late adopters”. 85.8% of the OleanInfo respondents were over 40 and 58% over 50 and as a group had very low mobile internet use. This stood in contrast to the SEL readership that was 84% under 40 of which almost half access the mobile internet once per week or more.

Other highlights:

• 90% of respondents report using their cells to text message (thus they do sooner or later adopt)
• 0% penetration of the iPhone
• Very low (12%) penetration of traditional smartphones
• 87% had no mobile internet usage AT ALL
• 26% reported using Free DA and of those 32% used Goog-411 and 44% uses Free-411. (Remember that the Goog-411 billboard campaign took place in Olean)

Here are the results of the survey taken last week. OleanInfo respondents are listed first with the comparable SEL response in parenthesis.

What sort of mobile phone do you currently own?

  • Conventional cell phone — 87.6% (58.7%)
  • Traditional smartphone (e.g., BlackBerry, Treo) — 12.4% (30.7%)
  • iPhone — 0.0% (10.7%)

Indicate how many of the following you do with your mobile phone (multiple answers permitted):

  • Send and receive text/SMS messages — 90.9% ( 97.2%)
  • Access the mobile Internet — 22.7% (56.9%)
  • Use downloaded applications (e.g., Mapquest Navigator, Google Maps for Mobile) — 12.1% (36.1%)

How frequently do you access the mobile Internet?

  • Never — 87.2% (33.8%)
  • Once a month or less — 4.6% (13.5%)
  • Two-three times a month – 4.6% (5.4%)
  • More than once a week — 1.8% (21.6%)
  • At least once daily – 1.8% (25.7%)

If you don’t access the Internet on your mobile phone, why not (multiple answers permitted)?

  • Keying in queries is frustrating — 21% (45%)
  • The network is too slow — 6.2% (52.5%)
  • The screen on my phone is too small — 14.8% (57.5%)
  • I don’t have a mobile Internet plan — 77.8% (45%)

Which of the following mobile search engines/sites do you use (multiple answers permitted)?

  • Ask – 17.4% (8%)
  • AOL – 4.3% (0%)
  • Google – 78.3% (90%)
  • Microsoft Live Search/MSN – 26.1% (8%)
  • Yahoo oneSearch/Go – 41.3% (20%)
  • Note-The high response rate on this question implies that the question was not fully understood

Do you use any of the free directory assistance options?

  • Yes – 26% (29%)
  • No – 74% (71%)

If you use any of the free directory assistance options, which one(s):

  • Goog411 — 32% (73.9%)
  • 1-800-YellowPages (AT&T) – 28% (8.7%)
  • 1-800-Call-411 (Microsoft) – 12.0% (8.7%)
  • 1-800-Free-411 – 44% (21.7%)

Indicate your gender

  • Female – 38% (24%)
  • Male — 62% (76%)

Indicate your age

  • 18-24 — 1.8% (17.3%)
  • 25-30 — 2.7% (25.3%)
  • 31-40 — 9.8% (41.3%)
  • 41-50 — 27.7% (12%)
  • 51-60 — 30.4% (4%)
  • Over 60 — 27.7% (0%)

Where do you reside?

  • US/North America — 99.1% (65.3%)
  • Europe — 0.9% (25.3%)
  • Asia — 0.0% (9.3%)

The survey has the caveats of any internet survey and the results only reflect the reality of the group surveyed. That being said these responses provide an interesting contrast to the results of the SEL reader survey.