Google Maps partners with eFax to Promote Local Business Center

Since early summer, Google Maps has been actively promoting the Local Business Center to SMBs. This is a positive development as the LBC needs relatively high adoption to truly succeed and provide the promised benefits. Until this summer, Google was all too quiet about its existence. There have been a number of relatively high profile activities that Google has embarqed upon to promote the LBC of late:

-The initial rollout of the Places campaign in large metro areas in July
-The Favorite Places posters to 190,000 businesses in December
-Their appearance at the National Retail Federation Big Show in NYC this week
-Their sponsorship of the newly announced Getlisted.org Local University seminar series*

Taylor Cimala of Digital Third Coast recently alerted me to a new LBC marketing effort, noting this email he received as a result of Google’s partnering with eFax to promote the LBC:

Continue reading Google Maps partners with eFax to Promote Local Business Center

Semmy’s: Honoring Search Articles from 2009

The Matt McGee‘s annual Semmy Awards have been announced and 3 of my articles published this year have been nominated. My thanks go out to Matt (and his many minions) for all of his effort in recognizing the many great articles from throughout the year. It is a monumental task to track, collate and order the content. Its an honor & pleasure to have these articles included in the process.

In the Analytics category, Martijn Beijik’s excellant piece tracking the results of a 7-pack placement was nominated:

Tracking Local search Traffic with Analytics

In the Local Search category my article explaining one of Google’s patents was given the nod:

What is Location Prominence?

And in the Google Category, my article about Google’s approach to creating business listings was annointed:

Google Maps, Small Business & Society – who’s crazy?

Loci2009: Gib Olander’s Important Trends and Directions in Local

So not all of these posts were explicitly about local but I think they all discuss leading trends and toward solving problems that local is dealing with or will be dealing with in the near future.

Here are eight posts from 2009 that sum up the year and point toward where we are going in 2010.

1) Battlelle sums up a trend early in the year (March 2009) that made me think about the importance of social media as a traffic source, and there have been several other articles about this topic since, but this particular article captures the reality of the change taking place. I think the implications for local are still playing out, but it’s a trend that will impact local in 2010.

The Conversation Is Shifting

2) Danny Sullivan has been all over the newspaper/Google conversation and back in April 2009 I ran across this article on his personal blog. Again, this isn’t exactly local and the authors opinions are his own and not necessarily mine or my company’s, but I think it’s interesting to see how newspapers are struggling to monetize their content and I think that concept will impact local more in 2010.

Google’s Love For Newspapers & How Little They Appreciate It

3) Sebastien Provencher always has great thoughts, plus I am a huge Gladwell fan, so this is a natural for me. Social and local remind me of those 1980’s REESES PEANUT BUTTER CUPS COMMERCIAL’s Hey! you got peanut butter on my chocolate, Hey! you got chocolate on my peanut butter. Most of your social network is relevant to where you are, and where you are is your location or something like that. Anyway, Sebastien clearly frames the opportunity here in April 2009.

Malcolm Gladwell: “Re-Framing” the Yellow Pages Industry

4) Greg Sterling, as always gives everyone in the industry a compass to follow. I found this recap of all the iPhone apps important not only because it was informative but sort of shocking to see just how many local apps already had some success by mid-year 2009.

Survey of Local Apps for the iPhone

5) Mike you gave us this terrific illustration of the proliferation of locksmith spam in February 2009 and it has increased the profile of claiming your business listing, stunning at the time and has led to significant change in the industry.

Google Maps Proves More Locksmiths in NYC than Cabs

6) David Mihm’s – thoughts on categorizations – he touches on many of the interesting and difficult questions concerning business listings today.

Thoughts On Categorization In Local Search

7) Of the things I wrote this year, this one summarizes the core concepts that the aforementioned trends, articles and posts led me to think about: Business Owners: Are You Sabotaging Your Own Local Listings? The key concept is that a business location’s information can be accessed, shared, researched, judged from so many different places, platforms and applications that a SMB needs to establish an anchor and from my perspective that anchor should be a well defined, consistent representation of your NAP (name, address phone).

Enjoy 2010. As a former boss Jeff Herzog from iCrossing used to say, “search will be everywhere”. I think that’s becoming more and more true and as Greg Sterling points out in his post: Location Will Be Everywhere, local search just might be everywhere by the end of 2010….

Gib Olander’s bio….
Continue reading Loci2009: Gib Olander’s Important Trends and Directions in Local

Loci2009: Seb Provencher’s Inspirational Local Developments in 2009 and Predictions for 2010

Looking back, I believe 2009 was a transition year in the local media space. Mobile finally came of age after many years of broken promises and put “geo” front and center. Social media became a hot topic in the local media circles, something that was almost unthinkable 3 years ago when I started blogging about the power of the geo-social intersection. Many traditional media firms (Yellow Pages and newspaper publishers) spent the year reorganizing or worrying about their debt level which slowed down innovative deployments. 2009 was also the birth of the Local Social Summit, an event dedicated to this brave new world.

Last year, I was truly inspired by the zeitgeist and wrote my “I Have Seen the Future of Local Media” blog post (it became an eleven-page .pdf document!) in which I explain why the real-time social media revolution is a game changer in the local media space. I also wrote about Why Social Media is Not Just About Merchant Reviews, prepared a list of KeySuccess Factors for User Reviews Deployment, presented a compendium of future user features of The Perfect Local Media Company of 2014 and published a guest post on LeWeb’s blog explaining Why FourSquare Is Not The Next Twitter.

I obviously don’t write in complete isolation and I want to also share with you a few blog posts that truly inspired me in 2009.

In 2010, expect the following:

  1. It will be the year where “Local” becomes strategic for all media players, triggering the beginning of what I called in 2008 The Local Wide Web
  2. The economy recovers and new disruptive technologies are born. As the Kelsey Group said at their ILM 09 conference, “Get Ready for the Post Recovery Digital Shift”.
  3. Social media monetization will start happening on a serious scale through reputation management and online coupons/promotions
  4. On mobile, 2009 was the year of the iPhone. 2010 will be the year of Android
  5. In the second half to the year, venture capital will once again start flowing to fund innovative startups, ready to disrupt large industries. We will see a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the “local” space throughout the year.
  6. Human resources will be an issue in large media organizations. Hiring and retaining talent that understand the shift to mobile and social will be strategic. Entrepreneurial profiles and rewarding risk-taking will have to become the norm.

For those of you that would like to know more about Sebastien Provencher, here is his bio…
Continue reading Loci2009: Seb Provencher’s Inspirational Local Developments in 2009 and Predictions for 2010

Loci2009: Matt McGee’s Most Important Developments in Local Search for 2009

It seems to me that the two most important developments in local search during 2009 both came from Google. I suppose that’s not much of a surprise in the current local environment, is it? Here’s my top two:

Google Shows Local/Map Results on Generic Queries — you wrote about this on your blog, I wrote about it on Search Engine Land, and many others wrote about it, too. I called it a game changer. It’s huge because all of a sudden you have local business listings showing up prominently for thousands of keywords/phrases that they never appeared on before. It excused lazy search behavior. More importantly, it opened up a whole spectrum of exposure opportunity for small businesses. All of a sudden it was possible to rank on generic terms like “insurance agent” and “italian restaurant.” Huge development, and no surprise that both Bing and Yahoo had followed suit by the end of the year.

Google Launches Place Pages — I was in the middle of a two-month travelogue when this hit, and didn’t really appreciate it until much later when I got home and had time to see what it was all about. I think this will become a game changer, too. This idea of a single URL for “every place in the world,” as Google said (with typical hubris), is really compelling. It’s Google doing what the Yelps and Citysearches and IYP sites have been doing, so it’s kinda of a catch-up move in one sense … but Google has so much traffic and so much interest from business owners who want to be found. This can’t help but be big. I mean, Google’s already using place pages to show real estate listings; what else can they use them for?

And I’m shocked that Google isn’t indexing these pages. I suspect they will at some point. The URLs are already fairly SEO-friendly and some of the pages have really good content. Why not index them? So what if they’re already available in the 7-pack listings; why would Google include business listings from Citysearch or Yelp that may have less content and offer a poorer user experience, when it could show a Google place page in the organic search results?

(The flip side of all this Google talk, of course, is the ongoing saga of Google’s terrible support for small/local business owners. Miriam Ellis wrote a marvelous article about that. And no one’s done a better job of writing about Google’s ongoing problems with spam, hijacked listings, and general technical incompetence than you. So Google’s local track record is far from perfect … still.)

Some other things that stand out for me from 2009:

David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors remains the de facto standard for information about local SEO, and I could retire if I had a dollar for every time I’ve suggested a small biz owner read it.

I continue to love and be fascinated by the convergence of local search and social media. Small business owners were especially creative with Twitter last year, and I think that’s just the start of things. Twitter itself has made no secret of its plans to reach out to small businesses with formal services and tools, and they’ve said that local is an important part of their plans, so it should be interesting to see what develops in 2010.

And I think we collectively tend to under-report on Bing Maps and Local. I’ve always received a lot of traffic to my blog from people looking to learn how to get listed on MSN/Bing maps, how to optimize for it, etc. I documented some of that in this post, showing that eight of the top 50 keywords that send traffic to my blog are about Bing/MSN local, and only four of the top 50 are related to Google maps/local. I suspect that means something, though it might just be that you’re getting all the Google traffic. 🙂

Matt’s Bio:
Continue reading Loci2009: Matt McGee’s Most Important Developments in Local Search for 2009

Loci 2009: Daniel Tunkelang’s Interesting Local Posts of 2009

Daniel Tunkelang is one of those individuals that you probably know little about but who will be influencing our lives a great deal going forward. Since November 2009 he has been the a Tech Lead/Manager on the local search team at Google and has a long history of heavy hitting in the search environment. His specialty is what is known in search as faceted search which he believes offers a potentially powerful way to approach a broad class of local search problems.

In early December, he reached out to me and I would like to welcome him to the Local Community (btw he seems to have a tough skin which should serve him well :)).

******

Not sure any of it qualifies for your list–the local space is a bit new for me, so I’ll surely have a more targeted list next year! Anyway, here’s some stuff I liked from 2009:

WWW2009 Madrid Proceedings:
Computers and iPhones and Mobile Phones, oh my! (pdf) A logs-based comparison of search users on different devices

Greg Nudelman at UXMatters:
Best Practices for Designing Faceted Search Filters

Cameras, Music, and Mattresses: Designing Query Disambiguation Solutions for the Real World

And a collection of free resources about faceted search and search user interfaces:
Free Chapter on Faceted Search User Interface Design

Daniel’s bio if you are interested in more nformation about him:
Continue reading Loci 2009: Daniel Tunkelang’s Interesting Local Posts of 2009

Google LBC: We’re Sorry, human error

Update 01/07/10: Elaine Filadelfo from Google’s Global Communications & Public Affairs office, has just forwarded me the following communication:

Hi Mike,

I know you’ve been covering the newsletter mix-up. Wanted to make sure you’ve got the latest statement/explanation:

As you know, we send a monthly newsletter to our Local Business Center users, featuring product news and a glimpse at statistics about the traffic Google properties drive to their listing (coming from the LBC dashboard, akin to Google Trends data for business owners). Shortly after sending the newsletter to a small portion of our users (less than 1%) last night, we discovered that some emails included incorrect business listing information. We promptly stopped sending any further emails and investigated the cause, which we found to be a human error while pulling together the newsletter content. We’d like to apologize to all the business owners affected and assure all our users that we’re working hard to ensure that nothing similar will happen again. Those affected should be receiving a corrected email shortly, if they haven’t already.

Also — we put an update in our Help Center in response to some questions as well:
Help Forum Response

We also posted a note on Twitter:

The follow-up emails have gone out already, so they should already be delivered or will arrive any time now.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Elaine

James Ward passed along the Google apology for the LBC Stats error sent to his client, Caitlen Allen Acupuncture Clinic in Leeds:

Google Maps LBC Sending Out Monthly Stats to Wrong Businesses?

At about 1 am this morning, Danielle Kraft of Studio Kraft in NJ sent along this comment:

Hi Mike,

Oddly, this evening I received an email that was detailed for a “Google Local Business Center Updates for Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting.” I’ve received this type of email before for a business we have claimed, however, in this instance, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, have I ever claimed a business related to Maaco. This is not totally incorrect.

Glitch perhaps in their system? Very strange. The email header checked out, doesn’t appear to be spam. Sender =”localbusinesscenter@google.com”

Has anyone experienced this before?

Thanks,

Danielle

At about 3 am I received my monthly update from the Google Local Business Center for Kurlon Mattress Dealers, Home, Office, School Furniture Shop : Tk trading a company (with a very long name, hmmm) that is most definitely NOT in my LBC:

Well, Danielle, it does appear to be a fairly massive “glitch”. I am sure that you in NJ and I in upsate NY are not the only ones to get their monthly stats in this way. The only question is did every report go out to the wrong recipient?

If any of you got mine, would you let me know?

Google LBC Requiring Reverification of Some Listings

For historical reasons, I have a number of very small clients that I have done some local work for in my Local Business Center account. While not the best arrangement for many situations, it works well for these small clients that are barely computer literate. It has the added benefit of highlighting certain Google behaviors in one spot. Several weeks ago roughly 10% of the listings in my LBC were requiring that they be reverified.

It is not clear what or why these businesses are being required to reverify.

Some of them had geo phrases in the title, some are home based businesses that use residential phones and some are just main street businesses with nothing to distinguish them. All had been in my LBC for quite some time and doing fine.

I am curious if others have been required to reverify? If so, was there any obvious reason?

Developing Knowledge about Local Search