Category Archives: Local Search

General information about Local Search techniques, technology and trends

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 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’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.

Small Business Influencer Awards: Vote early, Vote often and Vote for …..

I was recently honored to have been nominated for the 2011 Small Business Influencer award in the guru category. It is an effort by to recognize those “organizations and people who have made a significant impact on the North American small business market”.  The awards will identify the Top 100 influencers and are decided 40% by a popular vote and 60% by the judges. In the popular voting you can vote for a candidate once every 24 hours.

Whenever I receive this sort of nomination an internal dialog always takes place that goes something like… “ooh, cool… I would like to win ah but I can’t win, oh this is just a popularity contest but there are others more deserving than I … “. By the time the internal chatter has ceased the contest is over and I place 75th or so.

In this contest, since a voter can vote once a day for a given individual, a contestant needs a very large family, a very involved mother, a great bot network or a very supportive industry. I don’t posses a large family, a living mother nor a bot network but do feel that option four (industry support) holds lots of potential.

And this time I have decided to be more proactive, more assertive and more involved and not let my internal dialog slow me down… so I am suggesting that as an industry we get together and we Vote early, Vote often and Vote for ….. Lisa Barone.

Why pimp for Lisa Barone and not myself you ask? Well besides the fact that she has an Italian last name and HAS to have a larger family and active parents, I really think that she deserves the support of our industry for her tireless reporting of industry events, her relentless and smb focused writing and her voice. An opinionated, funny, off beat voice that is a voice of reason and straight talk in an industry that has its share of the opposite. She has done us all a favor and I think it is time to pay her back.

So Vote early, Vote often and Vote for ….. Lisa Barone. Not once but every day for the next 22…spread the word.

Google Officially Ends Support For QR Code in Places

Google is obviously moving strongly towards NFC (near field communications) as their technology of choice for closing the loop of the “last mile” in the local link between consumers and Google. They have built the NFC chip into their new Nexus and they are testing NFC in both a payment and POS environments. They used NFC chips in Places signage in their Portland Hotpot promotion (although they were not very effective).

But their aggressive support for NFC seems to be the death knell for their support of QR codes. Why that should be is unclear but last week QR Codes disappeared from the Google Places Dashboard and yesterday Google provided me with this statement:

Users will no longer find unique QR codes in their Places accounts. We’re exploring new ways to enable customers to quickly and easily find information about local businesses from their mobile phones.

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