Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

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.

Local Links of Interest

As noted in WRAL.com there is a new local search engine, WhatsOpen.com that is now open.

WhatsOpen is an intriguing service with an even more intriguing about us page. Their approach to local search is not the standard who, what or where but rather what and when. They ask a question that even folks familiar with their own local scene frequently ask.

Just type in the name of the store you’re looking for, and your location….Results are displayed on a Google Map mashup, with listing of stores, their hours of operation, their phone numbers and their distance from the city center appearing in a left-hand column.

Users choosing to sign up for the full beta of the version get access to information from the U.S., the European Union and China along with mobile phone applications Google Android or iPhone.

An interesting report of agressive marketing & billing practices in the Local SEM space in the Google Maps for Business Group.

In Restless Pursuit of Craigslist’s Success – Bob Tedeschi, NY Times

The NY Times writes a glowing report about The Kijiji unit of eBay in their pursuit of Craig’s List. At the end of the article Kijiji’s opportunities were put in perspective by Greg Sterling:

Even without such features, though, Craigslist added nearly seven million users during the last year. That should be enough to give pause to Kijiji and other competitors, according to Greg Sterling, of Sterling Market Intelligence, an advertising consultancy. “There are other sites, like Google Base, with nicer features for users, but they haven’t dented Craigslist,” he said.

Windows Live Expo from Microsoft, another free classified ad site, has also struggled to gain an audience. “The more competition there is, the more it reinforces Craigslist’s users,” Mr. Sterling said. “So Kijiji is going to have to take a long-term view if they want to gain any traction.”

Understanding Google Maps nominated for Search Blog Award 2007

SearchEngineJournal.com once again has their annual Vote for the Search Blogs Awards
posted and Understanding Google Maps and Yahoo Local has been nominated in the Best Local Search Blog category. Thanks to Miriam of SolasWebDesign and Frank of LocallyType.com for nominating this blog. I really appreciate the recognition.

It has been a fun year for me. With your help, I have learned a lot about Local Search, Google Maps and myself.  A special thanks go out to Dave, Bill, Greg, Danny, Miriam, Cathy, Chris, Chris & Matt for making yourselves available, providing insight & information and being gracious, decent people. To these folks and those of you whom I have forgotten to recognize, but have contributed so very much to my knowledge this year, I say: A Very Heartfelt Thanks!

Local Links of Interest

8 White-Hot Trends Lift Local Search in ’08  – Michael Boland, Search Engine Watch

Eight local search trends will rock the search engine world in ’08. Here are the ones with the most momentum as we roll into the New Year 

Amazon Kindle does Maps – Joshua Topolsky, Engadget

Users of the device have been plumbing its depths, and have uncovered a handful of easter eggs which will make current owners extra happy, and might push potential buyers over the edge. Amongst the hidden features are access to Google Maps coupled with CDMA-based location-finding, which also allows you to quickly locate nearby gas stations and restaurants (as well as your own custom searches).

The Pogies: Envelope, Please David Pogue – NY Times

MAPPING BREAKTHROUGHS Google Maps (maps.google.com) has been blowing MapQuest off the map for some time now. But three new features make it head-spinningly great.

Want a coffee with your iPhone? - Brian Caulfield, Forbes

In an application with the U.S. Patent Office filed on Dec. 20, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer and gadget company described a wireless system that would allow customers to place an order at a store using a wireless device such as a media player, a wireless personal digital assistant or a cellphone.

The system could go far beyond the program that Apple announced with Starbucks in September, which allows iPhone users to press a button and wirelessly download the song playing in the background as they sip their soy lattes.

In Search of the Breakthrough Mobile Network – Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service

It’s been a tough year for municipal Wi-Fi projects and emerging wireless technologies, but with the bruises comes new muscle.