Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Local SMB Survey: 68% Have Facebook Pages, 28% Have Claimed Google Places Listing

As part of Getlisted Local University we occasionally survey the attendees. We ask several questions to assess their level of knowledge about search in general and local search in particular. This survey sample size is very small and self selected from those that registered for the seminar. The participants are primarily small and medium businesses and the market area they occupy is mostly rural. The results however are consistent with previous informal surveys.

I am always shocked that so many businesses have created Facebook Business pages and so few have claimed their Google Places page. I have been at the local thing for such a long time that I frequently forget how few businesses actually make a concerted effort to understand and benefit from Local search.

4. Do you have a website? (y/n)

Yes   83.3%
No   5.6%
5. Have you “claimed” your local business listing in the Google Places Dashboard?

Yes   27.8%
No   55.6%
6. Does your business currently have a Facebook page?

Yes   66.7%
No   22.2%

 

My takeaways?
1)There is still a huge upside to Local search
2)Google Places has not yet succeeded in gaining mindshare against Facebook despite the very real benefit it offers and their longer time in the market.

Getlisted.org Local University coming to WNY on November 1

Local University: WNY is coming to the  Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY next Tuesday, November 1, 2011. The afternoon session is nearly SOLD OUT, however there are still seats available in the morning session.

We’re bringing in some of the nation’s leading online marketing experts as well as Google and Bing for an intensive four-hour  crash course in Internet marketing that will help the SMB navigate the possibilities for marketing their business on the web. The SMBs will learn Search & Social Marketing tips and techniques that will lead to sustained, long-term search engine visibility (and new customers) in their local markets and beyond.

There will be two identical 4 hour sessions ( from 8am – 12pm and 1pm – 5pm). The speakers include Matt McGeeDavid MihmMary BowlingEd ReeseCecelia Stewart of Google Places, Aaron Weiche and myself. Bing has also recently signed on as a sponsor and the Bing Portal Product Manager Joe Futy will be there demonstrating their new business portal. With Google’s assistance we were able to provide 25 college students with “scholarships” to attend the event.

We will be holding “office hours” offering free website reviews for attendees in an adjacent room at the Holiday Valley Resort from 8:30am – 1:00pm and from 1:30pm – 6:00pm. Slots are available on first-come, first-served basis in 15-minute intervals. If you would like to reserve a time for one of us to review your site, please email us at localu@getlisted.org with your preferred time.

Pricing for the event is $129. Click here to register. Enter the discount code: MB2011 to receive special pricing of $99 (save $30).Hope to see you there!

Getlisted Local University WNY Continue reading

Geo Sitemap Generator Adds New Features

The “grand daddy” of geo sitemap generators has recently included some new features. Geo Sitemap Generator, first released by Arjan Snaterse in 2009, has added the ability to generate either a schema.org file or a microformatted file of your contact information. In addition to the features in the geo sitemap tool from 51Blocks that I reviewed last week, Geo Sitemap Generator supports multiple locations and now provides a preview of the KML file locations on a Map.

The benefits of multiple locations are obvious if you need them. The benefits of the map preview are not so obvious but very real. KML files require a mapping API to generate the lat long info included in the file. Sometimes the information from the API, even from the same map provider, renders the location differently than reality or differently than the public mapping program. It has always been a good idea to check the KML file’s lat-long accuracy by loading it into something like Google Earth to be sure that it pins the locations correctly. Now Geo Sitemap Generator previews the pins on a Map for you when you go to download your files saving you a necessary step.
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How Much Does ATT Suck? Let me count the ways

I decided to order a new iPhone 4s today.

I thought that the most hassle free order method was to just go to my local ATT store. It was the obvious choice. There is never a line, the staff is friendly. The affable salesman knows me by first name and is an avid iPhone owner himself. I could be catered to and I wouldn’t have to think too hard. I thought how can I go wrong?

Not to worry. With ATT there is always a way.

The choices offered to me by ATT:
1)I could preorder and wait for 3 weeks for delivery or
2)I could come in next Friday and stand in line or
3)Since I am consulting in Phoenix next Friday, I could stand in line there.

As my son would say: Yea right.

I pulled out my iPhone while standing frustrated at the ATT sales counter & went to the Apple site. It suggested I download the app, which I did. Within 3 or 4 minutes I had preordered my iPhone. I asked my salesperson (who I felt really sorry for) to advise the chain of command of the outcome.

ATT? #fail. I should have known better.

Local SEO: A Free Tool to Build GEO Sitemap and Schema.org Compliant Files

There are two simple ways of telling Google and the other search engines where your business is located via your website. One is to create a KML file and an attendant geo-sitemap. The other is to provide your full business contact information in rich snippet format on the site. Now there is a way to easily do both with one simple creation tool from Michael Borgelt of 51Blocks.

From a single input of your basic NAP + web information, the tool creates a kml file, a geo-sitemap file pointing Google to the KML file and an HTML code snippet in the new schema.org format for your business contact info.

You then paste the code snippet onto your contact us page or into the footer of your website, place the kml & geo-sitemap files in your public html file of your site and then reference the geo-sitemap file from the Google webmaster tools. The KML file can also be uploaded to Google MyMaps to create an embeddable direction and location map for your website.

I doubt that Google needs both signals to trust your site but by doing both you have future proofed your site for any eventuality.

Siri – A Metaphor That Defines The Future Of Local Search (And Everything Else)

This is not a tribute to Steve Jobs directly. Although in the end it may be one of his greatest legacies. Will Siri become the new Qwerty?

I have been in the technology field for over 30 years. I have seen a number of radical changes that became metaphors for how things were supposed to be done. Many, but certainly not all, of these metaphors were created at the hands of Steve Jobs.

QWERTY defined the keyboard. The Apple II defined a generation of PCs. Sony defined what the home video recorder should be. The Mac defined what a Window and Window based programs should behave like. The iPhone defined how touch functions on a smartphone and what a smartphone is.

These defining products and the companies that produce them don’t always win the battle in the market place for various reasons but the idea sticks. The technology becomes iconic and lays the path for others to follow. Sometimes the followers overtake the creators, sometimes the creators win. The market is a brutal overseer.

Siri, the natural language interface for the new iPhone 4s, is one such product. It may not be the product that wins the battle in the market place, it may not be the specific product feature that everybody has to have in their pockets in 2015 but if it isn’t, whatever is there will be like Siri.

Imagine a world where you say to your phone: Find me the best Asian restaurant within 25 miles. Or: Text my wife to meet me at 21. Or: Schedule an appointment for me with Joe the PR Guy and send him a text. Or: Tell my friends on Facebook that our team won!

All of the sudden the only thing that matters is the answer. Nothing else. You won’t be looking at a search box, you won’t be landing on someone’s home page, you won’t be looking at an ad…In fact you won’t be looking at anything.

You won’t need to. Not all of your interaction will be voice driven but depending on your mobile needs a large portion of it could be. You no longer need to look at your phone to enter a query in a search box. You just ask for the answer and it will just give it to you.

The answer can come from a single source or a range of sources. The brand of search engine is no longer important, the brand of phone that you are asking the question on is. Your only relationship is with the phone. Either it works or it doesn’t. Search engines and web brands could potentially fade in importance.

The winner in this next interface battle gets to pick where and who it gets the answer from. If Siri needs three data sources, it uses three data sources. If it needs four, it looks at four. That complexity is all hidden and the user not only doesn’t need to visit multiple websites, the user doesn’t even need a special app. Siri, or something like it, becomes the great equalizer for data sources. An OS for voice as it were. It handles the complexities. You just need to ask it.

Will it do what Apple says it will? There was a time when you couldn’t trust what Apple or any technology firm said. You had to have it proven to you. Even though this is a new Apple, one molded by the demanding perfectionism of Steve Jobs, this is one of those times when you will need to know that the natural language interface works and it works seamlessly.

If it does, it becomes THE WAY that you want to interact with the device. The new QWERTY as it were. Maybe not all all the time but certainly with mobile search and more frequently than not with mobile local search.

It also becomes the great disintermediator in mobile. It may be the greatest disintermediator of all time. If it works.

Decline in Searches at Vertical Sites Giving Way to More Searches At Google & Bing

Comscore has an interesting post detailing a decline in “vertical search” (travel, local, product, jobs) queries for the first time in several years. This decline in searches at vertical sites has been mirrored by an attendant increase of share of searches at the general search sites.

From the article:

This trend is illustrated by the tremendous growth of non-search engine search entities during that time. In August 2011, of the 27 billion searches conducted on desktops in the United States, more than one-third occurred on non-search engines. Search on sites like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook has been growing faster than (and therefore gaining market share from) the core search engines for several years. But in the past year, this vertical search market actually contracted by 6% after several years of strong growth.

Vertical Search Giving Way to Core Search

He went on to conclude that with recent acquistions (like ITA and Zagat) and improved local and travel search results this trend is likely to continue:

As these user improvements manifest themselves in the search results and searchers have increasingly begun to rely on them for their more vertically-oriented search needs, we are finally beginning to see a significant shift in the market. Growth in vertical searches is now actually conceding ground to the core search engines in a reversal of the past few years.

Now, don’t go taking this as the beginning of the end of non-search entities. Their business is still alive and well and will continue to serve a critical function for specialized searching behavior. But increasingly, search engines are improving the quality of their results in a way that is helping to fill the void once created by searches with vertical intent.

What do you think? Will Google and Bing continue to grab share from other local & vertical sites as their search results improved? What does it portend for those sites?

Small Business Influencers 2011 Awards Final Results – Thanks to All!

Anita Campbell’s Small Business Trends announced the Top 100 Champions and Honorable mentions in their Small Business Influencers 2011 Awards.

Small Business Influencer Award 2011

I am happy to say that Lisa Barone AND I were both awarded a spot in the list of Top 100 Small Business Champions. We are in rare company with the likes of Aaron WallJohn JantschInc. Magazine and Intuit and a ton of others, many of whom I am not familiar with but would like to learn more about.

Thanks to all of you that voted for me and better, thanks to those who took my advice to vote for Lisa. 

Groucho Marx once noted that he wasn’t sure that he wanted to be a member of any club that would have him as a member. That is not the case for me in this situation UNLESS they sit me between the Better Business Bureau and Google at the award dinner, both award winners as well. (For those of you that don’t recall, I have offered up criticisms of both over time and I once even managed to criticize both in the same post :) )

Thanks again!

How Much Freeer than Free Can Free Be?

Stever of Axemedia passed this Register.com email solicitation along to me. It is a deceptive ad that attempts to leverage Google Places as a benefit to the package. How much freer than free can free be? I suppose that the offer revolves around some claiming package but is amazing to me that a company of Register.com’s stature would attempt to leverage Google’s good name in such a way.

 

Worse is yet to come though. When you click through to the website, you are offered a Free Website to along with your free Google Places listing. The offer that you thought was $24.95/mo. turns out to be $94.95/month. What you are actually buying, despite the immediate call to action, is not clear nor is there any way to achieve clarification other than calling.

At the end of three years a business would have spent $3418.20. It appears that the business will have received a website of indeterminate size with some keyword laden copywriting, a Google Places listing, a listing at one or the primary data suppliers to the GPS industry and some reporting…. probably Google Analytics. The package could be worth it, who knows. The level of misdirection and slight of hand makes me doubt it.