Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

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.

Local Authoritative OneBox = I’m Feeling Lucky; or Not!

The recent posting at SEORefugee about the Denver Florist going broke due to their business being displaced by appearance of a competitor in the OneBox, has brought Google’s Authoritative OneBox into the consciousness of the search community.

The Authoritative OneBox has been the gold standard to measure success in local search marketing. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a singular local listing that shows up at the top of the main Google search results page when Google determines that a certain local listing is the authority for that local search.

It made its first appearance last October. Bill Slawski wrote up a OneBox Patent Summary in January of this year. In that same timeframe (January & February) it became more frequently displayed and there was an increase in use of the Authoritative OneBox. Previously it was shown when there was no competition locally but it started being shown more frequently and for the “dominant” local listing.

In some ways, the Authoritative OneBox is like the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google main search window. It reflects the confidence that Google has in their technology. It reflects that idea that they can determine the single best answer to a query. It is said that Google forgoes $110 million in advertising revenue by keeping the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. At some level the button reflects a certain DNA of Google and their desire to be playful yet confident in their results. It also reflects a certain arrogance: the idea that their algo is so good that it can determine the answer a searcher wants to the exclusion of all others.

The Authoritative OneBox also demonstrates the fundamental difference (and difficulties) between returning relevant results of an abstraction like webpages and returning the real results of a concrete thing like a business. When would a user ever want just one response to the query Denver Flowers?

However it raises more questions than just that.

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Local Links of Interest

Ads on Google Maps for Mobile (& Goog-411?) Coming Next Year (Greg Sterling – LocalMobile Search from the recent Google Local Symposium)

* Performance of mobile ads “is excellent”
* Google has discussed ads on Goog411 and will likely add them but not before the company feels comfortable with the user experience
* The response to MyLocation has been very strong
* Google will likely be introducing local business ads (which currently appear on Google Maps) on Google Maps for Mobile (the application) in the first half next year. MyLocation will enable them to be much more targeted than currently can be accomplished on the desktop.

iPhone Tops Windows Mobile Devices in Web Browsing (Market Share by Net Applications)

We’ve been tracking iPhone usage since its launch. Total web browsing on the iPhone has topped the web browsing on all Windows Mobile devices combined, as this report shows. This report is a listing of the top operating system versions in use. It is not a measure of units sold, but the share of users browsing the internet with the devices. The iPhone has had a dramatic rise in usage share in its short time on the market

Adapt Or Die: Debating The Future of The Mobile Web & The User Experience; Why The World Wide Wait Could Wreck Mobile Search & What To Do About It (Peggy Ann Salz – msearchgrove.com)

While there are some unsettling question marks around Google’s motives, the outcome to watch is how the new interest (translated: rhetoric) in openness will likely whet user appetite for more control over their search experiences and results. Brendan is also betting that users will gravitate to a variety of sources for the answers they need, a shift that will require operators to combine and expose results from storefronts, the Internet and the mobile Web. Any vendor spin aside (InfoSpace of course offers a federated mobile search solution that brings together results from a variety of sources), Brendan does have a point. If open is the flavor of the day, then operators will have to put up or shut up.

Jill Aldort, Senior Analyst, Consumer Mobility Applications, Yankee Group, who led our Internet World roundtable discussion, revealed that her research shows 13 percent of users surf the mobile Internet, up from 6 percent last year.

My (ancient) cell phone as a reading device.

I have an old Nokia 3650 cell phone with a pre-columbian Java and an even older Symbian OS rev. Although it might just as well be called the Simian OS for all the good that my opposable thumbs do me. While it basically sucks I have learned how to take advantage of its many Web 0.5 features like WAP browsing.

I have experimented with most aspects of mobile internet, mobile local and mobile search on my phone. Most web implementations and search options for this generation of technology are either useless or so difficult to use that they might as well be. They do however tend to highlight interface issues with using mobile devices for browsing, emailing, reading etc. and when it does work it is awe inspiring. There is still something very Buck Rogerish about reading Bill Slawski’s recent post on Google Health & Privacy while heading down the highway (my wife IS driving of course).

IMG_17071.jpgAny task that requires significant input like internet searching, extensive email responses and Google SMS local search get used only when the “pain is worth the gain”. Other activities like Goog-411 that are not only painless but “fun” get used more regularly.

The one surprising thing that my antiquated cell phone does well is allow me to read. Virtually all of the uses that I have found for it include active reading with little or no input….I read emails (then call the client), read my kids text messages (then fume :)) and most significantly keep abreast of my Google Reader list of “must read” local search news for the day.

Reading “Mobile web design is so different from the desktop web” (Martin Kleppmann of www.yes-no-cancel.co.uk) clarified my understanding of why some things work and some don’t on my ancient mobile browsing environment.

Google in their WAP mobile Google Reader implementation demonstrates Martin’s point:
For mobile users it is even more important than for normal web users that the designer has figured out exactly what the most frequently needed aspects of his site are, and made those aspects immediately and very easily accessible. This means that a mobile page can contain far fewer navigational elements (links) than a page intended for desktop viewing.

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MerchantCircle:FUD marketing (and these guys get $10 mil?)

MerchantCircle has been criticized in the past for its agressive and fear driven marketing to get small businesses to sign up to its services (see John Batelle, Matt McGee & Greg Sterling). They claim that 250,000 small businesses signed up for their service. According to Peter Krasilovsky at Kelsey Group:

the claim of 250,000 registered businesses, while impressive, should be sliced and diced for exactly what it is. The vast majority may have been duped into registering by an aggressive telemarketing campaign that strongly implied these businesses had a negative review, so they should go online and check it out. To see their “review,” they first had to register.

The obvious question is, how many of these violated businesses become loyal customers of MerchantCircle and are ready to be upsold into the SEM and promotion packages, etc.? No one will tell me. I imagine it is a very low number. Maybe it isn’t.

Well it appears that they are now attempting to motivate those that did signup previously to engage more with their service with similarly deceptive (although subtler) tactics.

I had signed up with MerchantCircle last year to see if they could help me manage my listing at multiple Local Search Engines including Yahoo and Google with a single central listing. I did everything they asked but they were unable to locate any of my records with Google (they have since stopped claiming to update Google), Yahoo or the Yellowpages so I stopped trying.

Today I received this email piece from them:

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Local Links of Interest

Google, Yahoo Clash With AT&T, Verizon on U.S. Mobile Phone Ads (Bloomberg)

At stake is a market that may surge 10-fold to $16.2 billion globally by 2011, says EMarketer Inc., a research firm in New York. Google, based in Mountain View, California, sees as much as half of future sales coming from mobile phones. While the U.S. accounts for about 50 percent of global revenue from promotions viewed on computers, the figure drops to 27 percent on phones and may rise to 29 percent by 2011.

TomTom, Google team up on business information (Reuters) -

Dutch navigation systems company TomTom said on Wednesday it was teaming up with Internet search leader Google Inc so users can find and send business addresses to their portable devices.

TomTom, which makes navigation devices for cars and mapping software for handheld computers, said in a statement its users would be able to search for business addresses on Google Maps and transfer them to their TomTom device.

UPDATE: Nokia To Up Services Investment As It Fights Google, Apple  (CNN)

At its capital markets day on Tuesday, Nokia Corp. stressed the significance of its push into mobile services and indicated it intends to make further acquisitions in the field.

Chief Executive Olli Pekka Kallasvuo said Nokia (NOK) , already the world’s largest maker of mobile phones by a large margin, intends to become the No. 1 brand for search, browsing and music…..Nokia transform itself from a pure hardware vendor to software and services giant as it looks for new sources of growth.

As such, it targets companies ranging from traditional rivals such as Motorola Inc. (MOT) to search engine giants like Google (GOOG) , makers of ” converged” devices – which wrap up music, internet browsing and phone capabilities into one handset–like Apple (AAPL) and software developers like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and its Windows Mobile platform.

“We have to have a strategy against each of these people, and we do,” said Kallasvuo.

Local Links of Interest

Yahoo: Mobile web to overtake PCs in next decade (Gary Price at ResourceShelf.com)

Local Search Guide – IYP & Search Engine Who’s Who
The Yellow Pages Association, along with sponsors eStara and Superpages.com and supporting partners comScore, SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) and The Kelsey Group, offers the Local Search Guide, which profiles IYPs, Search Engines, Search Tools, Mobile Tools and selected Vertical Directories.

Google Maps now supports collaborative map-making (Google Lat Long Blog)

Google Introduces New “My Location” Feature for Mobile Devices (Greg Sterling – SearchEngineLand.com)

Google Alerts: an indispensible tool for Local Search

When I was in college, I had a job clipping articles from newspapers for a professor who was planning a book. It was back in the days when the Federal Government actually provided support for higher education and it afforded me the privelege of reading newspapers and being paid for it.

These days the job of clipping service flunky has been obsoleted and replaced with Google Alerts. It has been one of the indispensible tools in writing this blog. I receive a number of alerts each day with both broad and narrow search terms to keep abreast of writings far and wide in the field of Local Search.

Today I recieved this alert:

More Local Women Hitting Woods In Search Of Deer
WPXI.com – Pittsburgh,PA,USA

PITTSBURGH — While there are fewer hunters nationwide, one group of hunters is growing: women.

I took up golf this summer as my 12 year son wanted to learn the game and needed the ocassional partner. My woods game was nowhere near this accurate.

Local Links of Interest: Local Search News goes mainstream

It is fascinating to me to see the emergence of local search & local mobile to be appearing so prominently in the mainstream press. In today’s online edition of the NY Times, the following three headlines from the technology section were featured on the front page:

A Web Tour Will Show Stores From the Inside Out
The Web site EveryScape.com lets a viewer take a realistic tour like the one of Cambridge, Mass., above. Soon, it will go inside to show store interiors, like the Harvard Coop, below.

A new three-dimensional promotional tool will allow Web surfers to venture down streets and inside some local businesses.
Prototype

Mobile Web: So Close Yet So Far

The wireless communications business smacks of a soap opera, with disaster lurking like your next dropped call.

Web Drives More Real-World Purchases

E-commerce purchases are expected to grow a healthy but unspectacular 17 to 20 percent this holiday season over last year’s. But the Web’s influence over what people buy could be growing even faster.

Local Links of Interest

Mozilla moving to mobile – a great post from Schrep at Mozilla on their plans in the mobile space (prioritizing mobile platforn, adding mobile developement staff & a version of “Mobile firefox”). Also of interest was this tidbit about why now & available hardware:

Getting a no-compromise web experience on devices requires significant memory (>=64MB) as well as significant CPU horsepower. High end devices today are just approaching these requirements and will be commonplace soon For example, the iPhone has 128MB of DRAM and somewhere between a 400 to 600 MHz processor. It is somewhere between 10x-100x slower on scripting benchmarks than a new MacBook Pro and somewhere between 3-5x slower than an old T40 laptop on the same wifi network. But rapid improvements in mobile processors will close this gap within a few years. There are chips out there today that are faster than the one in the iPhone and integrate graphics, cpu, and i/o (wifi/3g/wimax) on one die. Intel has recently re-entered this market which will keep things interesting. Most exciting of all ARM has announced that by 2010 devices will be shipping with a processor 8x faster than what’s in the iPhone!

CNet has an interesting piece about a partnership between Multivers and Google that:

“will allow anyone to create a new online interactive 3D environment with just about any model from Google’s online repository of 3D models, its 3D Warehouse, as well as terrain from Google Earth.”

The project, referred to as Architectural Wonders project, “will allow virtual-world designers to incorporate not just models and terrain from Google Earth, but also much of the metadata that makes it so powerful: the personal notations and photographs that millions of users have added to it.

While the article is mostly about multiplayer role playing the implications for local are interesting.