Matt McGee needs little introduction to most readers here. He has been involved, perhaps longer than I, in the local space as a consultant, practitioner and writer and was one of my first virtual friends in the space. I have had the good fortune to have had Matt become a real friend and we often “tour” together with GetListed Local University. He maintains his own blog Small Business Search Marketing, is Executive News Editor at Search Engine Land and a moderator and editor at Sphinn.
His sense of internet marketing is keen and one that I listen to and trust even if having him in my social graph at Hotpot skews the results to pizza.
I’ve been enjoying the previous articles in this series. I don’t agree with all the opinions on what was most important in 2010, but that’s surely part of the fun. I do agree that 2010 was a big year for the local industry. Marissa Mayer, one of the most important people at Google, was “promoted” to a position overseeing local and mobile. Google launched Places Search, a whole new take on local search results. Bing made some very cool upgrades to its maps product. Facebook took a real step into the local space with Facebook Places. And so much more. 2010 was a BIG year for local/mobile.
But for all the progress, I’m still struck by how undeveloped the space is as a whole. So, at the risk of having you call me “Debbie Downer” (that’s a Saturday Night Live reference, Professor), I’d like to list 10 things that are still missing, broken, or unsolved in local at the end of 2010.
1- Google Places is still filled with bugs, from merged listings to problems with reviews and so much more. I have a gut feeling that spam is somewhat better than it’s been, but there are so many more problems for such an important piece of the local puzzle.
2- It’s still borderline impossible for the average person to track local/”pack” traffic in Google Analytics. There have been several articles that teach semi-complicated methods for doing this, but those articles shouldn’t be needed.
3- On a related note, the Google Places business dashboard remains mostly useless. The data is several days old and the stripped-down referral keyword list remains often frustrating. It would be better for Places to integrate directly into Google Analytics.
4- Bing still doesn’t offer any stats in its Local Listing Center. Nor does Yahoo.
5- Google still appears to be much more interested in acquiring small businesses (as Google users) than they are in actually supporting the ones already in the fold.
6- We still can’t manage multiple Places listings (for different clients) from a single interface. (Bing and Yahoo also don’t offer this functionality.)
7- There’s still no effective SEO/visibility solution for businesses without a location or for businesses that need to hide their location. Google’s product for those businesses seems to do more harm than good, and Bing doesn’t even have a product for them.
8- Neither Google, Bing, nor Yahoo allow a local business to integrate their Facebook and/or Twitter content into local business listings. I think Citysearch is the only local provider that has this functionality. Why?
9- There’s still no real solution to the call-tracking dilemma. SMBs want/need to track calls, but multiple phone numbers wreaks havoc on the trust of your primary business listing.
10- Neither Google, Bing, nor Yahoo provide any review management tools inside the business listing dashboards.
I’ll stop there with a “thanks” to Mike for letting me contribute to this series, and a “thanks” to you for reading. Hopefully we’ll see some or all of these things improve in 2011.