Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Local Links of Interest

Google announces AdSense for MobileAs part of our ongoing efforts to develop new ways for users to find the information they need anytime and anywhere, Google announced today the availability of AdSenseâ„¢ for Mobile, a program that contextually targets ads to mobile website content. AdSense for Mobile also allows AdSense publishing partners the ability to earn revenue from their mobile websites through the targeted placement of mobile text ads. With this program, advertisers can connect with the growing number of mobile publishers, ultimately providing users with an enhanced mobile experience that helps them find what they are looking for more quickly and efficiently on the go.

AdSense for Mobile is intended for AdSense partners who have created websites specifically for mobile browsers, and who want to monetize their mobile content via contextual advertising. Like Google’s other AdSense products, mobile text ads run on an auction model. The system automatically reviews the content of publishers’ mobile websites and delivers text ads that are relevant to the websites’ audience and content. Publishers earn money whenever mobile users click on the ads.

With this new program, the unmatched reach of the Google content network is extended to the mobile platform. AdSense for Mobile provides a valuable way to connect mobile users with the right ad at the right time as they seek information on the go. AdSense for Mobile is now available to all mobile publishers in 13 countries worldwide.

Interview with Chris Sherman of Third Door Media

Yahoo buys Zimbra It automatically turns street addresses into a link to the appropriate Yahoo Maps page, and can dial phone numbers inside a message with a single click.

Nokia Adds Local Search Capability to Phones

Nokia to acquire Enpocket to create a global mobile advertising leader

iPhone continues to drive Google Maps Usage(Marissa Mayer) said that Google Maps usage shot up sharply after the release of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone back in July. “Maps usage hasn’t stopped rising,” she said during our conversation.. according to Om Malik at the techcrunch 40 conference.

Where Am I? The Challenge of Geo-Targeting from LocalPoint

Google Coupons On The Way? from Search Engine Journal

Local Links of Interest

GPhone Update: “Not in the Works” From Local Mobile Search: Like the rest of us, Google knows that the biggest opportunities for e-commerce and Web 2.0 lie in mobile computing and mobile applications. Overcoming the shortcomings of low-end wireless phones, less than optimal wireless data speeds and strictures applied by a community mobile network operators who are reticent to innovate and share the wealth are its challenge.

Verizon Takes on FCC Auction Rules in Court a good summary from Local Mibile Search of the battle between BIG SEARCH AND CONTENT companies and BIG CARRIERS. There’s more bluster than legal basis in Verizon’s petition.

Google’s plan for world domination by Robert Cringely has some iintersting speculation about Google, the coming federal bandwidth auction, the coming battle of titans over the local space. For those who can’t think past search, imagine this also as Google’s key to dominating local- and location-based search.

Real World Trumps Online in Local Search, Search Engine Watch

Local Links of Interest

The Power of Branding by Greg Linden summarizes a small sample study that quantifies the value of branding in search. This applies equally well to local.

Prostitutes Turn to Craigslist, Law Takes Notice (NY times) – Can this type of local marketing be that far in the future for Yahoo or Google? It certainly indicates the degree of penetration of Craig’s list.

Mobilizing Mom & Pop Shops – Greg Sterling counters Steve Smith’s The Parallel Universe of Mobile Search, “rumination on the now-familiar challenges of selling online to “Mom & Pop” small businesses and suggests: if it ain’t happening online it sure as heck ain’t going to happen in mobile”.

And for those of you living under a rock, Apple lowered the price of the iPhone to $399. Maybe the day of the ubitquitous, usable and friendly phone with good Local information access is not as distant as I had thought.

Catering to couch Potatoes at the Ballpark

In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Russell Adams reports on the increased use of wireless devices of all stripes at Major League Baseball games (and other professional sports venues) for viewing stats, instant replays, ordering food and participating in game time promotions.

At some venues wireless devices can be rented for $25 per event. The Mariners (who are owned by Nintendo) rent Nintendo devices while the SF Giants’ AT&T Park offers free wireless access.

The following quote from the article intrigued me:

The quest for new forms of in-seat entertainment is being powered by the rise of mobile devices that function as a phone, television and computer. The number of people with a high-speed Internet connection on their mobile wireless device jumped to 11 million from 3.1 million in the first six months of 2006, according to the latest figures available from the Federal Communications Commission. Just in the almost two months since Apple released the iPhone, the number of fans at the Giants’ AT&T Park using its free wireless service to get stats and take part in trivia contests has jumped 50%; in a few games, that figure has reached about 700 fans, according to the team.

This uber-local use goes hand in hand with acceleration of the broader use of wireless devices and by my way of thinking, increased usage of Google Maps and other local data resources. Short term( 1-2 years) I believe that the main beneficiaries will be restaurants and other local tourist services. Long haul (3-5 years), whether other types of businesses will benefit remains to be seen.

Local Links of Interest

Experiment with Google Voice Local Search -Naturalsearchblog

Google patent app shows extensive Google plans for mobile search -ZDNET Blogs, Russell Shaw

Local Mobile Search Ready to Roll?-Greg Sterling, Screenwerk

Yahoo! Real Estate Updates Home Values Search with Maps and Local -Yahoo! Local & Maps Blog

Measuring the Impact of Universal Search on Local Search Traffic -Naffziger’s Net

Refining Queries Using Category Synonyms for Local and Other Searches – Seo by The Sea

Local Search not the be all and end all

Today I received a communication from a reader reporting that he was surprised that his organic “long tale search using local phrases” (i.e. service + locationpage optimization) were still producing solid results for hist website. He said “Actually surprised me.  I figured the one box would have a more dampening effect……and it may have…but this traffic is still strong.

My response: I have never felt that a Local specific Campaign could have more than a very limited overall impact on any business that has regional appeal as you can optimize for so few terms and locations (a design flaw in the algos?)….you use local to get high rankings for your bricks & mortar location and you use longtail for all of the regional variations and markets that you serve…that has been the best bet and continues to be.

Mapping Market Share

Chris Coad at the Complete.com Blog has an interesting summary of Map Provider Market share.

His conclusions:

  • Though traffic is down more than 20% from it’s peak in June, MapQuest remains the king of online map services with over twice the traffic of it’s nearest competitor.
  • Google Map’s functionality has allowed it to nearly double in size since January 2006. Google’s service is quickly gaining ground on Yahoo’s similar offering, and also shirking seasonal trends.
  • Live Search* has been gaining significant traction: coming out of beta in September, it has since grown to twice the size of well established RandMcNally.

He also has very interesting data on the different ways that the services are used.

iBegin Source – a radical approach to local data

Ahmed Farooq of iBegin.com contacted me several weeks ago to alert me to a new product that his company is releasing today: iBegin Source, a free and low cost source for business data in the 50 states.

Traditionally business data from InfoUSA and the like is expensive and very restricted in its use. For example, InfoUSA quoted $101,038.34 for every business in NY State as opposed to the $1000 for the iBegin commercial data set for New York. While InfoUSA includes more and different fields in the data, for many uses the geocoding available with iBegin may be more valuable.

iBegin Source is making this local data available for each of the 50 states. From iBegin Source’s website:

Key benefits:

  • FREE download for non-commercial usage
  • Commercial license is only $1000 for a state or $40,000 for the entire USA. Other data brokers can cost more than $500,000
  • Automated purchase. No sales team to go through
  • Data is updated constantly. Includes daily, weekly, and monthly data updates
  • We have 10,820,453 total business listings. Already cleaned and de-duped
  • Commercial license includes geocoded addresses

The availability of free or cheap local data that is updated regularly has the potential to shake up not just the internet yellow page business and local search but direct marketing as well. To quote Ahmed: “We want to help promote enthusiast and hobbyist sites (just look at what happened with mapping applications when Google released the Maps API).”

Here is an interview that I did with Ahmed over the past few weeks that provides more insight into his service:

Q:Tell us about your company and how you got into local search

The parent company is Enthropia Inc., a webdev firm based in Toronto. We are self-funded, over four years old, and we build our own sites (no client development).

We got into local search because the current crop wasn’t good enough. From massive errors in data to slow searches, it was a headache to find anything near me. Canadian local search is especially horrible. We didn’t want to take a shotgun approach, covering all of Canada/US. We opted for a city-by-city approach (ala CitySearch).

Describe your new service to provide local data

Local business data is expensive. The data itself is full of duplicates and errors. I remember processing 34,000 records for a city and ending up with only 8000 unique records. Brad Fled had an interesting post on how bad local data is, and how the suppliers provide of no way for direct updates.

So iBegin Source does four things differently:
1. Perpetual license. Once you purchase our data, you can use it for however long you want.
2. Cheaper data. An entire state is only $1000. The major data brokers (that everyone uses) are roughly 300-400% more expensive than us. Some are high as even 1000% more! We want to help promote enthusiast and hobbyist sites (just look at what happened with mapping applications when Google released the Maps API)
3. Open system for updating. Anyone can submit an update, and we also have a trackback system for automated updates (akin to what Brad Feld was suggesting). All of it revertable just like Wikipedia. No more closed systems.
4. Geocoding comes included. Six decimal accuracy and major intersection included. Simplifies the entire process.

What do you think will be the impact of making this data available?

The entire idea is that helps launch new local-oriented sites. If I wanted to setup a local site right now, the cost of the data is a major barrier. With iBegin Source I can self-fund my project.

We also intend on becoming the centralized place for local data. On the iBegin city sites we have received thousands and thousands of updates, of which a fraction of one percent were incorrect. Why not just give users the power to do the changes themselves? Worst case situation: we do some reverts.

Continue reading iBegin Source – a radical approach to local data