I look at Yahoo Local rarely and report on it even less. However, my lack of attention to it doesn’t mean that Locksmiths are not interested in playing there. And while this is old news, with Google Places having become a difficult place for them to play, locksmiths have moved on (for the most part) to the next easy pickings. I am sure that the exposure is not as great but a small fish is better than no fish at all and one can still marvel at their audacity.
Jeff Magner of Trumpet Local Media pointed out this search for watch repair in Boulder, co at Yahoo that turns up locksmith spam even in categories as unrelated as watch repair. When you do search on Locksmiths the results are “impressive” with the top 4 listings each showing more than 450 reviews each.
Since Yahoo’s algo so heavily favors review count, they appear to be in an arms race with number 3, Boulder Locksmith Service 24/7 having gathered over 400 reviews since the first of August… a clip of almost 7 reviews a day…. The number of their reviews alone amount to 1% of all households in Boulder. The top 4 listings have procured reviews from over 5% of the households. No small task that.
Obviously, as Jeff pointed out in his email, this decay doesn’t just affect the locksmith listings but has moved out and is polluting other categories as well. I recognize that Yahoo has other things on their plate. But unless they are going to proactively manage local they should be selling it off to Microsoft as well.
The syndication value of reviews on well-spidered portals like Citysearch, InsiderPages, and DexKnows appears to me to outweigh any special ranking given to Google’s own reviews (which are of course not syndicated). Additionally, I think Google places extremely high trust in reviews it finds on leading vertical portals like TripAdvisor, Healthgrades, and Avvo.
I strongly agree with David’s premise. Citysearch by virtue of its extensive syndication and still strong visitation puts its reviews almost everywhere (for a list see the end of this article). Citysearch uses Facebook Connect for its login making guaranteeing that most of your clients have a login at the ready and its reviews show up regularly and quickly in Google Maps. By virtue of pervasive syndication, Citysearch reviews have as much as 15% more exposure than a review written in Google Maps.
I would also recommend adding Yahoo Local to David’s list. Many users already have a Yahoo login making it easy for them. More importantly Yahoo Local reviews are the only reviews that show in the Yahoo Universal results. If maximum exposure is the objective then showing in Yahoo Universal (plus Google & Google Maps) results in far greater visibility that even the total exposure to review provided by Citysearch.
I have recently added a new local account, The Option House Restaurant in Bradford, PA, the next town over. I soon discovered that they while they had a new business and a stellar local reputation, their on-line reputation was less than savory .
Sam Sylvester, the dapper 75 year old owner, moved back to his home town after 55 years of world travel, for help & support caring for his terminally ill wife. After her death and with the help of Rosie (his high school friend) as a marketing manager, he embarked on on a whole new life, but this time in Bradford. This spring, he opened a lively pub and cosmopolitan restaurant in an early 1900′s building that he had meticulously restored.
Bradford, PA was home to one of the first oil booms in the US. and in the early years of the 20th century, oil field owners would stop into the Option House for lunch and to trade oil contracts. It became an elegant depression era Vaudeville stop before falling on hard times in the 1990′s and early 2000′s. When it was shuttered it had become a less than reputable bar on the first floor and a flop house on the upper floors.
In a few short months early this year, after months of restoration, Sam opened the restaurant to rave local reviews. It doesn’t take long in a small town like Bradford for an excellent restaurant to become wildly popular. But as I soon found out, after contracting to build a new website, their on-line reputation reeked of sleazy rooms and a disreputable bar. From their Yahoo Local review (here is the Google cache):
Now that this place is under new ownership it has been completely restored to its former glory. Everything has been restored and renovated! This used to be one of the trashiest places in town, and now it is elegant and beautiful!!! You really have to see it for yourself. They now offer fine food thanks to the acquisition of a high end chef from another local business… 5 stars
I have to be fair: I haven’t really been to this place since I was about 23. It seems like a lot of underage people hang out in here. I guess that would be cool if I were underage. when I used to go there a lot, it was great.
On-line reviews have become the double edged sword of on-line marketing for many small business. Greg Sterling repored on recent research that Online Reviews Influence 84% of Americans. They are a reality that impacts sales whether they are truthful or not, current or not, spammy or not. I decided to see how Yahoo would respond to my desire to have the review noting service to underage drinkers pulled down. (more…)
Ahmed Farooq is the founder of iBegin.com. He has created, sold and recreated significant local web properties several times over. I communicate almost daily with him about his and my activities and I have found no one to have a better handle on the technical and social issues that confront local nor a better idea on how to build honest businesses within the space. From where I sit, his youthful influence and creative vision makes him the person to watch in the coming years. He writes at his blog, Tech Soapbox.
Steve Espinosa, the world’s biggest Chicago White Sox fan, local search expert and a frequent speaker on Local at the many conferences, has just rolled out a new local search site called Local Search News. It will be an everything local site with both tactical and strategic information on Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Local SEO, Mobile and Local Search.
It looks to become a staple in the world of Local Search.
Local vs Traditional SEO: Why Citation Is the New Link
Not that the article itself is necessarily earth-shattering, but during the course of thinking about Local and researching 10-pack rankings, I came to two very important personal conclusions – 1) In Local SEO, not all links matter. 2) “Links” that matter for Local SEO aren’t necessarily links. This mindset has guided my thinking about Local Search for client work for the remainder of the year.
It was very rewarding for me personally to get the perspectives of so many top minds in Local. I probably had more fun putting this together than the average SEO or small business owner did in reading it!
The first of Eric Enge’s interviews with the men in charge of the two major players in Local Search. An absolute must-read when you get the kind of (even if the interviewee was not entirely forthcoming / intentionally misleading).
The first major quantitative study of Local SEO ranking factors, led by Mike Blumenthal. The search community gained a deeper understanding of how the main ranking factors interact with each other based on availability of data and competitiveness of market.
The IRS should send out a notice that makes Miriam Ellis’ fantastic series required reading for small business owners. The government could increase its tax revenue by 20% on the profits of SMB’s who read it!
I could have chosen any number of press releases from the Yellow Pages themselves to fill this slot, but this is one of the more egregious examples of self-promoting puffery coming from an industry dying almost as quickly as the Big Three (at least on the print side). A terrific analytical look at YPA data by Chris “Silver” Smith.
There were many items in the interview of interest and a number of notable contrasts with Google’s fully automated system.
Some of the highlights:
- Yahoo Local relies very heavily on the licensed feeds that they get through data providers like InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Localeze and these should be the primary sources for maintaing data accuracy in your Yahoo record.
- They “have human and manual moderation that goes on for changes, so … submissions all go through a moderation process where we look for patterns and we actually do validation of data to make sure it is accurate”. Google could learn from this approach!
- Categorization and consistency of keywords across data sources and your listing are key to ranking
Does the IYP/online business directory market share matter or has the battle already been decided? Has this category been relegated to just another niche search area where money can be made but market dominance is not possible?
A recent press release noted that www.local.com, ranked fifth in the Business Directories online industry category. This was based on the Hitwise analysis of market share of U.S. visits received at the internet yp sites in Q1, 2008. Greg Sterling at Screenwerks noted the other sites in the category as ranked by Hitwise in their results:
Business and Finance – Business Directories
I have small quibbles with these IYP comparisons. Maps.google.com has a tendency to be over counted due to its integrated mapping function and Yahoo tends to be undercounted due to the fact that it splits its local, yp and maps products into different urls. A resolution to this methodology issue is likely to move Yahoo local closer to first in this list but these are small details.
I see a much bigger problem in that it appears to me the battle for local business listings has already been won and not by the properties on the Hitwise list. These comparisons are simply measuring who has 1st, 2nd and perhaps third of the remaining, ever declining market share left to them by market leaders Google’s and Yahoo’s universal search results.
While it might take some time for mobile to pass Internet search in the US or Western Europe, in context of the entire world itâ€™s not hard to imagine mobile search volumes exceeding the desktop Internet, in the aggregate, within 5-7 years.
When Google first launched mobile AdWords it was an opt-in program: advertisers specifically had to choose to be in mobile sponsored search results. Then, in aÂ fairly well publicized move, Google decided to make mobile an opt-out for AdWords advertisers:
The company informed me last week that it has gone back to an opt-in policy for mobile at the present time.
I also discussed with Google the degree to which the desktop and mobile might ultimate become more similar than different, in the context of â€œfull HTMLâ€ browsers (Safari, Opera, Skyfire, Mozilla, Android). Weâ€™ll see. As Iâ€™ve tried to argue in the past, while there are some advantages in that scenario for users there are considerableÂ disadvantages for advertisersÂ â€” chiefly because online ads get lost and become very difficult to see.
The iPhone is probably the model of how smartphone browsing will evolve: native applications + full HTML browsing. But that still doesnâ€™t solve the problem for advertisers seeking to effectively reach mobile audiences.
The authors of these patent filings refer to this approach as a â€œsmart aggregation of search results by concepts.â€ In addition to helping searchers quickly understand different concepts related to their queries,and view different relevant content types from different sources, is also that focused advertisement can be presented.
I take a look at some of the implications of this development, and expand on an earlier hypothesis about why Google introduced the 10-pack to Universal search in the first place. Yes, ZIP code targeting means more relevant results for searchers, but itâ€™s an innovation that might not be entirely altruistic.