Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

Why Sec 230 of the Communications Decency Act Needs Amending

Yesterday, the All Facebook blog published a story titled Family Sues Facebook Over Photos of Daughter’s Corpse. From the article (bold is mine):

A couple in New York is suing Facebook after a paramedic posted photos of their daughter’s dead body on the social networking site.

Martha and Ronald Wimmer’s daughter Caroline died two years ago. She was found in her apartment, strangled with her hair dryer, according to NBC New York.

Paramedic Mark Musarella posted photos of Caroline’s strangled body on Facebook. That got him fired from his job and stripped of his EMT license. And he agreed never again to work as an EMT as long as he didn’t get jail time. He also put in 200 hours of community service.

Even so, the Wimmers are also suing Musarella and his employer, Richmond University Medical Center, as well as Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano and the Fire Department of New York, in addition to Facebook.

But the Wimmers aren’t asking Facebook for money; they are asking the social media site to delete the photos of their daughter from its data servers. They also are asking for user details about who viewed ad downloaded the photos. Facebook has refused to comply with the Wimmers’ demands.

“We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told NBC.


When I mentioned the suite to Eric Goldman, a lawyer that writes extensively on the legal issues surrounding internet law noted:

Tragic story, but Facebook is clearly immunized under Section 230.

Sec 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the same law that immunizes the search engines if your business listing was hijacked by affiliate spammers and all profits from your business were being funneled to theives. It is the same law that immunizes the major review platforms from any liability if a libelous review is placed on line.

The Communications Decent Act of 1996 was created in a futile attempt to regulate pornography on the internet. Sec 230 of the act was:

.. not part of the original Senate legislation, but was added in conference with the House of Representatives, where it had been separately introduced.. as the Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act and passed by a near-unanimous vote on the floor. Unlike the more controversial anti-indecency provisions which were later ruled unconstitutional, this portion of the Act remains in force, and enhances free speech by making it unnecessary for ISPs and other service providers to unduly restrict customers’ actions for fear of being found legally liable for customers’ conduct.

It has also been argued that the law has provided a stable legal environment in which encouraged internet service providers (in the broad sense) to invest in a range of services, functionality and software without fear of being sued for use of their platforms by 3rd parties.

Those were and are important goals. In 1996, 2001 and maybe even 2006 they made all kinds of sense. In 2011 less so.

Continue reading Why Sec 230 of the Communications Decency Act Needs Amending

Cool Tool of the Trade – Capturing Full Screen Search Result Screenshots

I just upgraded to Firefox 4 and was offered the opportunity to try Awesome Screenshot. It solves several problems that I frequently deal with when writing this blog and communicating with clients – capturing a full screen of a Google search result (or any web page for that matter) and easily annotating it (see sample of output to the right – click for larger size).

This Firefox plugin (also available for Chrome and Safari 5) does just that as well as providing quick upload to a public URL for online storage of the image and the opportunity to easily share the image via Twitter, Facebook, Buzz and email clients. It passed the “Mike Test” with flying colors. The “Mike Test” is the ability for me to try, learn and use a piece of software productively in 10 minutes or less.

Here are some sample screen shots of the process using Awesome Screenshot: Continue reading Cool Tool of the Trade – Capturing Full Screen Search Result Screenshots

NYTimes Rolling Out Fee Based Program in Canada First

I just received the following email. Under the new plan, my current reading style would cost $35 /mo. That’s not going to happen.

NYTimes NYTimes NYTimes
An important announcement from
the publisher of The New York Times 

Fine Print

Dear New York Times Reader, 

Today marks a significant transition for The New York Times as we introduce digital subscriptions. It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform. The change will primarily affect those who are heavy consumers of the content on our Web site and on mobile applications.

This change comes in two stages. Today, we are rolling out digital subscriptions to our readers in Canada, which will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch. On March 28, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

If you are a home delivery subscriber of The New York Times, you will continue to have full and free access to our news, information, opinion and the rest of our rich offerings on your computer, smartphone and tablet. International Herald Tribune subscribers will also receive free access to

If you are not a home delivery subscriber, you will have free access up to a defined reading limit. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.

This is how it will work, and what it means for you:

  • On, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.
  • On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.
  • The Times is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet). More information about these plans is available
  • Again, all New York Times home delivery subscribers will receive free access to and to all content on our apps. If you are a home delivery subscriber, go to to sign up for free access.
  • Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.
  • The home page at and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times.

For more information, go to

Thank you for reading The New York Times, in all its forms.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
Publisher, The New York Times
Chairman, The New York Times Company

Fine Print 

As a loyal reader of, you will receive a special offer to save on our new digital subscriptions. We will e-mail this special offer starting on March 28, the day we begin charging for unlimited access to our Web site and mobile apps*. We truly value your readership and look forward to bringing you the world’s finest journalism every day.

Fine Print

*Mobile apps are not supported on all devices. Does not include e-reader editions, Premium Crosswords or The New York Times Crosswords apps. Other restrictions apply. 

This message was sent to inform you about an important change to our Web site and NYTimes applications. Please note, if you have chosen not to receive marketing messages from The New York Times, that choice applies only to promotional messages. You will continue to receive important notifications that are legally required or could affect your service.

To review our Privacy Policy, please go to:

© 2011 The New York Times Company / 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018

Web Bug from

Apparently, the subscriptions ($15, 20 or 35/mo) will be sold through iTunes. At least Apple will be getting richer if no one else does as they will get 30% monthly of each subscription they sell.

Infographic: Owning Your Local Web Equity

When presenting at Get Listed Local University we talk with a large number of small business owners. Many that we have met are attempting to understand the big picture of internet marketing and how the pieces relate.

These SMBs are trying to make a decisions amidst the buzz as to where to focus their on-line efforts. The goal of this infographic was to provide a foundation for that understanding from the perspective of long term investment in their marketing efforts. It is not so much a guide to those marketing priorities as it is a guide to understanding the trade offs in loss of control as you move your efforts onto the platforms controlled by others.

This graphic was originally inspired by a Lisa Barone blog post titled 11 Reasons Your SMB Still Needs A Web Site and refined with the help of David Mihm, Mary Bowling and Matt McGee.

The infographic is available for embedding in various formats and layouts on this page for both web display and print.

I would love to hear your feedback about the graphic and would like to know if you find it useful in communicating to SMBs.

(Click to view whole graphic)

Web Equity Infographic
Continue reading Infographic: Owning Your Local Web Equity

GetListed Portland

Today, I am presenting at the sixth Local University in Portland, Or. If you are coming PLEASE take a moment to introduce yourself as I would love to meet you.

For those of you that attended the presentation these links will provide background information and details for a pathway to dig deeper into the world of managing your listing on Google Maps. For those of you that are not in attendance, the links provide a good overview of critical base line ideas and tactics that every local campaign should embrace.
Google Maps – Its not your mother’s yellow pages.

Slide 2 – January 2011 Search Engine Market Share
Slide 12/13 – The Importance of Page One Visibility
Slides 16/17 – How the Google Cluster Works
Slide 21- Choosing the Right Category – A Tool
Slide 21 – Writing a Great Business Description
Slide 21 – Google Places Policies: Quality guidelines
Slide 22 – Creating a GeoSitemap – A tool
Slide 28/29 Local Search Ranking Factors – the many variables
Slide 28/29 A brief list of 10 Ranking Factors – somewhat old but still valid and a quick read
Slide 28/29 Thinking about your Business Name in the Internet Era
Slide 30 – Custom Maps – A Goldmine
Slide 30 – User Generated Content – Geo Tagged Photos
Slide 30 – How To Gather Reviews
Slide 30- Where to Gather Reviews
Slide 31- The Importance of Citations
Slide 31 – 20 Citation Sources in the US
Slide 36- A Listing management tool

GetListed University Spokane- New All Day Agenda Local UniversityI am traveling and speaking in the Pacific Northwest this week. Get Listed Portland on Tuesday, Searchfest on Wednesday and Getlisted University Spokane on Friday. Needless to say it will be a light posting week.

I am particularly excited about GetListed University Spokane for two reasons. It celebrates GetListed University’s first year anniversary. It has been an exciting year of great conferences, making great new friends and learning the ins and outs of putting on truly local marketing events in local markets.

Equally exciting is the fact that this year in Spokane we are rolling a new, all day event. In the past events, while we manage to cover lots of material, a common recommendation was to expand the event to an all day format. (To see every comment, like and dislike about previous events read the Local U feedback page.)

To sign up for the event use the discount mb2011 for a $30 dscount off the full day price of $149.

If you are an agency and wish to bring your clients we are offering a “7-Pack” of tickets for $699. To get the agency pricing it is necessary to reserve Your 7-Pack via email. If you are planning on attending the event, please let me know and be sure to introduce yourself!

During the morning, we cover the big picture background that every small business needs to understand. In the afternoon we dig into the tactical details and provide real world examples of successful practices that any SMB can implement. Here is the full day agenda:
Continue reading GetListed University Spokane- New All Day Agenda

GetListed Local University Portland

The next GetListed Local University is coming up shortly: Portland on Tues, February 22 at the downtown Gerding Theater at the Armory.

Getlisted U has been a fun event for me. I get to work with lots of great folks and present directly to small business people.

One of the things about GetListed Local U of which I am particularly proud is that there is absolutely NO selling and NO pitching by any of the presenters, sponsors or attendees.

None of the speakers are doing this gig for leads. In fact just the opposite in that we hope to leave the attendees in the hands of competent local SEO’s that can ethically guide them through the process of online marketing. That frees us all to say exactly what we think (you know how shy I am about that) and to create an incredibly open, welcoming space where ideas can be freely shared.

This comment that came from our recent Birmingham event reinforced our practice:

I was expecting a sales pitch, but it never came. The instructors all showed passion for their topic. No questions were side-stepped or dodged. I can’t wait to start using what I learned today.
— Nicholas A. Kopp

Why am I telling you all of this? Most of the readers of this blog are professionals and I want to encourage you to bring your clients to our Portland event using our Agency Package “7-Pack” at the discount price of $399 for seven tickets.


  • Over 50% off each ticket (normally priced at $129)
  • Additional tickets beyond the seven are available at the reduced rate
  • Increased credibility among clients & attendees
  • Inclusion of your logo & website mention as a Local U featured participant
  • Special reserved seating at event
  • Inclusion of your company/organization logo in rotating partners deck
  • Networking with presenters and other attendees
  • Our special enforcer, Ed Reese and his sidekick Fernando will knee cap anyone that violates our no pitching policy

Reserve your GetListed Local University 7-Pack today!

Note: GetListed University Spokane on February 25th, because it is an all day event, will cost $699 for the 7-Pack

Local Search Tools For the SMB and Professional

I have been using two “new” local search tools of late and have been impressed with both of them.

The Local Search Toolkit from seOverflow has recently been released from beta and upgraded to work with the many changes that occurred recently in Google Places. The tool provides competitive information for a range of information for the top 7 listings in a given geo search. It will provide both URLs and totals for each of the following: Site Title Tag, Categories, Citations, Reviews , Number of Photos, Number of Videos, whether the listing is Owner Verified and the listings Distance to City Center.

It’s free and provides a wealth of information. It’s useful for determining which reviews sites are most prevalent in which industries and which citations sources are the most prominent.

Another tool that I often use is the Whitespark Local Citation Finder. The free version has been around for a while and is also useful in finding citations for either keyword phrases, your own site or those of a competitor. They just released the Local Citation Finder Pro version. The Pro Version is $20/mo and normally I do not write about products that charge a fee but it has a new feature that I am finding incredibly useful (they provided me with a free subscription).

Local Citations Pro now offers the ability compare the specific citations between any number of  searches and or business listings. So for example you can examine your business listing and the citations for the listing that is tops in your category and against the citations for a series of search pharse. The information is offered up both visually and via a spread sheet file: Continue reading Local Search Tools For the SMB and Professional

Big G vs. The Trip Advisor – Smackdown Continues in The Review Ring

Ah yes, the rancor in the review industry does continue and in fact it seems to be turnin’ into a wrestlin’ match. The actors players competitors wrestlers have staked out their corners and the taunting has begun for the match later this evening.

Google has been throwing reviews around like ring side chairs. Reviews from have been coming and going from Places Pages faster than an Elbow Drop off the Top. Google seems to be attempting to not show them as much, per TA’s request but in their stead we are often seeing the very same reviews form or .ie. In some cases, we are even seeing the TA reviews on the Places Page from actual owner website via the TA review widget. (Thanks to Steve King from SimPartners)

The real winner in this match appears to be a site called They are a site that synidicates TripAdvisor reviews and in a quick survey of hotel Places Pages for major cities, they are showing prominently on the main SERP and the Places Page for sites that had TripAdvisor reviews. Their review totals often match TA’s exactly. Clearly, TA’s efforts to block Google from summarizing content from their review corpus is not going to be a successful tactic.

One then has to ask why TA has gone on their very public PR tear. Posting at their blog and across twitter via the #AskSteve hashtag, their CEO continues to answer (albeit at a trickle) questions about the tiff.

I found TA’s answer to a question that I asked interesting:

Q: @mblumenthal – How does the hotel benefit by TripAdvisor pulling their reviews from Google?

A: For hotels to thrive on any site, consumers must have a great user experience. We’ve pulled our reviews because Google Places doesn’t offer a good consumer experience.

Now where have we heard that refrain before? It seems that Steve pulled a play from Google’s playbook when answering that one.

Effluent always seems to run down hill. And it seems that wherever an SMB might stand in this current match is by definition, down hill.

TripAdvisor Reviews and Google Places – the Saga Continues

Su from the Inn at Tanglewood Hall, a bed and breakfast in York Harbor, Me alerted me on the 20th to the fact that TripAdvisor reviews were once again missing from Google Places. Today she sent me this missive from the CEO of TripAdvisor, Steve Kaufer inviting questions via Twitter about the TripAdvisor-Google battle over review content in Google Places. I am reprinting his message in full:


#AskSteve on Twitter: TripAdvisor Talks Google Places and Invites Questions

With more than 70% of all searches in the U.S. alone, Google is the world’s  dominant search engine with considerable power over displaying what users see on the web. With Google Places, it is abusing this power.

The success of any website relies on two crucial elements: how useful it is to the consumer and therefore how highly it ranks in search engines.  With both of these elements, Google is manipulating its systems and position to promote Google Places over other competing sites.  Links to Google Places appear at the top of the ‘natural’ search despite being an inferior product to sites that are dedicated to review collection and therefore more useful to the consumer.  Google is also forcingTripAdvisor to allow its reviews to be on Google Places, and as the world’s largest travel site with more than 40 million reviews and opinions, become the key content provider in Google Places for hotel and other accommodation reviews.

While we expect competition in the travel planning sector, we expect the success of the competition to be decided by the consumer.  The EU Commission is currently investigating claims of how Google is adopting unfair practice; Google Places is another example of how they are abusing their dominant position in search.

As the situation continues to unfold, we know that many of you may have questions about Google Places and how we at TripAdvisor are approaching it, and I want to get those questions answered.  Over the next couple of days, we’ll be asking you to share these questions on Twitter, and I’ll be answering them right here on the TripAdvisor blog.  Follow us at @TripAdvisor for additional details on how to submit questions and join in on the conversation.

Steve Kaufer, CEO, TripAdvisor

Guidelines for submitting questions:

  • I’ll only be answering questions about Google Places.  Questions on other topics will not be responded to at this time.
  • In order to have your question included, please be sure to use the hashtag #AskSteve.
  • I will be answering ten questions.  Answers will be posted here, on the TripAdvisor blog, and shared on Twitter. Follow @TripAdvisor for updates.

To see the Twitter question stream…. Continue reading TripAdvisor Reviews and Google Places – the Saga Continues