Many small business people feel embattled, besieged and forgotten. The move toward the “free” business listings of the Internet has removed one monkey from their back – the FUD of the Yellow Pages only to replace it with the inscrutable Google Maps.
Small business people hate standing in line and begging for help ala Google Maps for Business Group. Why isn’t my listing showing? Why can’t I get in the category of my competitor? How come my competitor has the only OneBox on the search results? The questions are asked but not often answered.
At some level Yahoo seems to understand what SMB’s feel better than Google. Last week after I modified a local listing with Yahoo they sent me this email:
It made me feel good and I dare say would make most small business people feel the same. I knew that the listing was live, I had received an acknowledgment of my effort and they had reached out to me.
I recognize it for what it is: good but automated communications. None the less I felt a certain warm and fuzzy. There was a lesson to be learned here. I even took the time to take the survey and was further impressed. When taking the survey it seemed that they were sincere about wanting to know what I thought and that they did get what it takes to deal with small business folks. Continue reading
The following are the nominees in the Local Search category for the 2008 SEMMY Awards. The judge(s) will narrow this group down to 5-6 finalists. Congratulations to all nominees! Thanks for the recognition!
- Local Search Interviews, Information, and Resources
Michael Gray, Graywolf | 2/5/07
- Location Prominence and Differences in Local OneBox and Google Maps
Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea | 2/8/07
- Googleâ€™s forced choice for the Authoritative Web Site
Mike Blumenthal, Understanding Google Mapsâ€¦ | 2/12/07
- Local Numbers: Setting the Record Straighter
Greg Sterling, Screenwerk | 3/1/07
- Google Local Search Glossary
Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea | 3/4/07
- The Latest Local Search facts and figures
Simon Heseltine, Search Engine Tigers | 3/7/07
- Local Search: Users First?
Cathy Hillen-Rulloda, Avante Gardens | 3/27/07
- Google Reviews: Reputation + Quality + Snippets + Clustering
Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea | 4/6/07
- Yahoo tackles Geographic Challenges of Web Search Results
Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea | 5/20/07
- Girl Scouts with Guns: Geographic Coding in Google Location Searches
Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea | 8/5/07
- When Might Google Show Local Search Information in Web Search Results?
Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea | 8/12/07
- Yahoo Local Now Features “User Denigrated Content”
Mike Blumenthal, Search Engine Land | 9/11/07
- Everything You Need to Know About FRO (Fake Review Optimization)
Andy Hagans, Tropical SEO | 9/20/07
- Five Reasons Why The Mobile Web Sucks
Scott Karp, Publishing 2.0 | 9/26/07
- Give Local Search Marketing a Shout Out with PlaceShout
Lisa Barone, Bruce Clay Blog | 10/11/07
- Local Search on Facebook
Larry Sullivan, Local Biz Bits | 10/11/07
- Geotargeting Location by IP Address = SEO Death
Andrew Shotland, Local SEO Guide | 10/14/07
- The REAL Problem with Local Search
David Mihm, Mihmorandum | 10/25/07
- How many Google Coupons are there?
Mike Blumenthal, Understanding Google Mapsâ€¦ | 11/3/07
- Anatomy & Optimization Of A Local Business Profile
Chris Silver Smith, Search Engine Land | 12/17/07
- Google Reviews Review
Miriam Ellis, SEO igloo | 1
Heather Hopkins at Hitwise has analyzed MapQuest and Google Maps traffic trends in her post GoogleMaps Making Inroads Against Leader, Mapquest that clearly demonstrates how Google controls their own traffic destiny.
Her main points:
â€¢ US visits to Maps websites is up 10% year on year and MapQuest is still the leader, receiving more than half of all US visits to Maps websites last week. However, Google Maps is gaining fast.
â€¢Traffic to MapQuest has remained flat year on year and is down 20% in the past 6 months.
â€¢Google Maps traffic is up 135% year on year and is up 7% in the past 6 months.
â€¢The growth for Google Maps is from traffic from the Google search engine.
â€¢This can’t really be attributed to an increase in consumers looking for Google Maps.
â€¢Google sends more of its own traffic to Google Maps than to Mapquest, a change that occurred last March.
It was actually last February when Google expanded the Local OneBox, and they made clear their ability to drive search traffic to Maps. With Universal Search and their increased use of the Plus Box in the main search results and Adwords & their use of addresses in Adwords, they are also demonstrating their power to keep users from needing any additional mapping product as well. The static market share of MapQuest and the declining share of Yahoo demonstrates why it is Google’s game to loose.
An excellent analysis of these larger issues by Greg Sterling can be found at SearchEngineLand.
I had an interesting conversation with a programmer whom I respect this morning who was looking at Yahoo Local and Google Maps business listings (in an industry that presumably has nearly 100% website penetration). He pointed out the following:
â€¢ Google and Yahoo seem to have almost the same name/address/phone info
â€¢ But Google has much better abstracts and web pages (i.e. web site url).
â€¢ Google has about 80-90% of its business listings associated with web pages,
â€¢ Whereas Yahoo has 52% of its business listings associated with web pages
I have found Yahoo Local’s ranking algo to be simpler than Google’s but it appears that there is more difference in the backend than just that.
You’ve heard about User Generated Content? Now you can read about my brief stint as an omnipotent guardian of local data integrity in a new article:Yahoo Local Now Features “User Denigrated Content” at Search Engine Land.
I have not paid much attention to Yahoo Local over the past few months. It isn’t as interesting to me as Google, it lacks the intriguing technology of the Local Business Center, its algorythms seem simpler and it generates less traffic and thus plays less of a role in my client’s sites.
The simpler input and verification procedures make it painless and quick for a business to get listed in the Yahoo Local database and rank fairly highly. Apparently though, that simplicity can lead to Mapspam as well. While the Mapspam on Yahoo is not as widely spread as Google’s was, it is harder to spot, there are fewer options for reporting it, and Yahoo seems less willing to pull it down.
The folks at the FloristDetective.com have been doing a number of pieces on the tricks and tactics of non local order takers in the florist business. Many of those practices are border line actions that imply that a florist is local without actually stating it…like getting a local exchange phone number that transfer to a head office who knows where. These are clearly deceptive practices but once they get the local phone number, the data flows through the phone company to Google and Yahoo and the presumption on the engines’ part is that they are legitimate local listings. They will frequently show up in Google with a pin but no address associated with the listing.
Recently though, RealFlorist.Flowerchat.com have uncovered more obviously deceptive listings in Yahoo where the entity will fabricate an address that is close to the city center (gaining ranking cred), provide a very relevant fabricated business title with City + Florist in the title (gaining more ranking cred) and adding a number of reviews (gaining still more ranking cred) to jump to the top of the local rankings for a popular search term in the larger cities like New York Florist, Los Angeles Florist or San Francisco Florist.
In each of the above cases there is clear evidence on the web that the local address is fake. In the spirit of journalistic integrity I called a number of other local florists close to the listed florist to see if there was a florist located at any of the above addresses and uniformly the answer was: No.
Here is the evidence for just one of the bogus listings, on the search for New York florist at Yahoo (note the distance, name and phone for the first local result): Continue reading
Chris Coad at the Complete.com Blog has an interesting summary of Map Provider Market share.
- Though traffic is down more than 20% from itâ€™s peak in June, MapQuest remains the king of online map services with over twice the traffic of itâ€™s nearest competitor.
- Google Mapâ€™s functionality has allowed it to nearly double in size since January 2006. Googleâ€™s service is quickly gaining ground on Yahooâ€™s similar offering, and also shirking seasonal trends.
- Live Search* has been gaining significant traction: coming out of beta in September, it has since grown to twice the size of well established RandMcNally.
He also has very interesting data on the different ways that the services are used.
locally type(d) has a write up of the new Yahoo Local/Maps suggestion board where users can suggest, comment and vote on the best ideas for improvement.
If you have a idea for Yahoo Local you canmake your suggestion here.
I find the differing approaches of Google and Yahoo to map corrections/suggestions of interest. Yahoo one the one hand allows the more liberal, free for all approach allowing general users to add information to the maps but the more strict and less volatile approach to suggestions of voting. Google on the other hand, has a strict approach to map information input, allowing only the record holders to make changes in the Local Business Center and the much more freewheeling approach in their Google Groups for Maps for Business owners area.
While I will miss that Google Groups give and take in the Yahoo approach, I am sure that it leads to better employee relations. I am convinced that each morning, Map Guide’s Brian and Jen go to work and have this conversation: “Jen, I think it is your turn to respond today.” and Jen says: “No, no, I insist, it’s your turn.”
We’ll have to see if it leads to less material for my blog.:)