Sahelia Datta has uncovered what appears to be a voice driven directory assistance service for Google Maps. She details both its strengths and its foibles.
The number for this free service:
1 877 466 4411 (1 877 GOOG 411)
Greg Sterling has an interesting analysis in his posting on Brands, User Experience and Mobile. He clearly positions the service in the big picture of directory assistance and local search.
For me the concerns are more pragmatic. Is it really Google results? (yes, they are) Is it free? (yes it is) And is it enough better than current directory assistance that consumers would use it? (Let me know what you think but it sure has promise).
For any of you that thought that optimizing for Google Maps was unimportant, this will certainly shake your world view. It clearly points out why it is important to have a solid listing with Google Maps, be listed in the top three in as many categories as possible and why if at all possible that number 1 ranking is critical on your keywords.
Greg Sterling had an interesting piece on local database accuracy
What did they find? Shockingly, they discovered there was something wrong (minor to major issues) with 47% of the listings! Thatâ€™s a remarkably large number. I was truly surprised.
The discussion in the post is of equal interest and well worth a read. My experience with Google’s data is similar. I beleive that it was originally purchased and maintained by InfoUSA and was riddled with problems. The question is whether the partners/local businesses/Search professionals of Google can get the data straight and keep it straight.
“According to the study, 63 percent of U.S. Internet users (or approximately 109 million people) performed a local search online in July, a 43-percent increase versus July of 2005. Google Sites (30 percent) and Yahoo! Sites (29 percent) garnered the largest share of local searches in July. Microsoft Sites captured 12 percent of local searches, followed by the Time Warner Network with 7 percent. “
To read the comScore press release
To read Greg Sterling’s summary and comments
I have been working on Google and Yahoo local search optimization for awhile. It is an area that while not earth shattering in terms of traffic that they have generated it became clear to me that the importance to Google and Yahoo and the client was increasing and it would be a benefit to understand more about it.
I searched the internet for technical and practical knowledge on Google Maps and Yahoo Local and while there were posts from time to time at a number of sites, none seemed to provide a single place to obtain comprehensive and current information or a place where experiments in techniques could be hashed out and discussed.
If you have an interest in this topic and have some experience I hope that you will take the time to share it so that the general state of knowledge about search optimization for Google and Yahoo local can move forward.