March 18, 2008
In the posting at the Google Lat Long Blog google has noted the following about the new Add/Edit Place to Map feature :
â€¢The feature is only available in U.S., Australia, and New Zealand
â€¢It can be used to edit a business as well as add new content. In this context it can be used to note a new location, new hours or a store closing
Previously I had noted that the option was only available in broad address searches. This is not correct as the option appears at the bottom of the Maps results on any Map query.
Also the option to edit existing business listings, while possibly open to abuse, may provide a down and dirty spam reporting mechanism.
The new Google Maps feature to allow every user to create a new business listing is now live. The program was hinted at broadly by Carter Maslan, Maps Product Manager last month in an interview and confirmed today by Google. The new Map feature was seen as early as Sunday.
Here is a comprehensive slideshow detailing the process step by step. To view the slideshow click here.
Here are some items of note about the process:
In a report released today by M:Metrics it was noted that “the iPhone is already the most popular device for accessing news and information on the mobile Web, with 85 percent of iPhone users accessing news and information in the month of January.”
Usage in other categories of internet access like watching video, listening to music, social networking while not quite as high significantly exceeded market averages. Of particular note was that 36 percent of iPhone users accessed Google Maps. In comparison, only 2.6 percent of all mobile subscribers checked out Maps. No mention is made of time on the service or total number of search queries but one has to assume that those were proportionately much higher as well.
Mobile Content Consumption: iPhone, Smartphone and Total Market:
Activity iPhone Smartphone* Market
-------- ------ ---------- ------
Any news or info via browser 84.8% 58.2% 13.1%
Accessed web search 58.6% 37.0% 6.1%
Watched mobile TV and/or video 30.9% 14.2% 4.6%
Watched on-demand video or TV programming 20.9% 7.0% 1.4%
Accessed Social Networking Site or Blog 49.7% 19.4% 4.2%
Listened to music on mobile phone 74.1% 27.9% 6.7%
Source: M:Metrics, Inc., Copyright © 2008. Survey of U.S. mobile
subscribers. Data based on three-month moving average for period ending
31st January 2008, n = 31,389.
*Smartphones include devices running Windows, Symbian, RIM or Apple
This increased usage is a function of both user interface of the iPhone and the unlimted integrated internet access plan.
“While the demographics of iPhone users are very similar to all smartphone owners, the iPhone is outpacing other smartphones in driving mobile content consumption by a significant margin,” said Donovan. “In addition to the attributes of the device itself, another important factor to consider is the fact that all iPhones on AT&T are attached to an unlimited data plan. Our data shows that once the fear of surprise data charges is eliminated, mobile content consumption increases dramatically, regardless of device.”
I have noted in the past that penetration of iPhone like devices, with a decent interface and usability is likely to reach 50% of the market in 3 to 4 years. Obviously this depends on both the hardware and the internet access plans that the phone companies put in place. When the stars align and this occurs, local search will obviously benefit.
March 17, 2008
Incomplete and Wrong Data in Google Local Search
- Bill Slawski, SeobytheSea.com
Bill covers some of the patents that relate to the post here last week: Google Plus Box – Where does the (wrong) data come from?
Deer Blogs His Own GPS Position in Google Earth – Frank Taylor, Google Earth Blog
A report on a very coolÂ real time animalÂ tracking experiment. I can’t wait until worried parents start the same experiment with their teenage children. Or perhaps overanxious citizenry implant this technology in sex offenders (only in America).
Google on SDK Competition with iPhone: Weâ€™ve Had More DownloadsÂ – Greg Sterling, LocalMobile Search
Clearly the move from cell phone to mobile internet mobile platform will not be Apple’s market alone. Google is going to be right there. It will be interesting to see which of the two has more success convincing the owners of the “walled gardens” to open up their networks and if one of them becomes the leading mobile computing platform.
Google is now promoting high quality, user generated public service maps in the main Google Maps interface encouraging users to personalize their MyMap experience with worthwhile projects:
For an update and detailed slide show on this feature see: Google Maps: Everyone can create a business listing
Jean-NoÃ«l Anderruthy of the GoogleXXL blog alerted me to the Google Operating System blog reporting of a new Google Maps feature that allows users to create new content to be added to Maps.
I have yet to see the feature but according the blog:
The option seems to work only for the US and you can enter few details about the local business or the place: address, name, phone, website and category. Google promises that “once you save your place, the whole world can find your addition by searching for it within a few minutes.”
Here is a a screen capture courtesy of the Google Operating System Blog:
The posters at the blog wondered about the impact of spam in this user gnerated content and Matt Cutts responded:
I would assume that Google is going to take mapspam quite seriously. I invited someone from the local team to discuss the subject in depth with my entire team just last week, for example, and we talked about lots of ways to work together. So my personal advice would be to make sure that your business name/category is accurate.
March 13, 2008
In November of 2oo7, I used Google’s coupon search function to estimate the total number of coupons that Google was showing in major markets. Google introduced the coupon program in August 2006 and they announced a partnership with ValPak to help promote coupon use shortly after.
Here are the numbers of coupons in NY, Chicago, San Francsico and Olean as of March, 2008 compared to November 2007:
|Total Coupons for search “City”
|Total for “City
+ Valpak” Nov. 2007
|Total Coupons for search “City”
|Total for “City
+ Valpak” Mar. 2008
|New York City
||18% overall increase despite 34% Valpak decrease
||4% increase despite 19% Valpak decrease
||34% increase despite 18% Valpak decrease
||what can you say? Its Olean.
||18% overall increase in 4 months despite 27% decrease in Valpak presence
Google Coupons have been the poor step child of the Maps world since their introduction. They just haven’t gotten any respect. Now though, four months after my first analysis, Google is seeing annualized growth rates of 54% despite the fact that it appears that ValPak now has a significantly lower presence. In fact if you calculate the growth in coupons just from the Local Business Center and remove ValPak from the equation, there has been growth of 171% on an annualized basis.
All of the old questions are still there: Why do they promote the program so little? Will it ever achieve greater exposure? Will it play a role in the world of coupons in the future?
And there now is a new question: Is ValPak cutting back its commitment to Google Coupons?
The total numbers are still low in an absolute sense but the growth rate augurs well given the low overall rates of growth that have been reported elsewhere in the online coupon segment. This growth has occurred despite a lack of promotion, virtually no visibility and a number of bugs in the coupon implementation in the Local Business Center.
Apple’s announcement of their software development kit was big in the tech news arena but got scant coverage in the search world. From where I sit, it appears to be a seminal event that will define local search for the next decade and will lead to a dramatic upsurge in hyper local searches.
There was much speculation about the iPhone tools prior to their release and developers expressed fears about limited access and undocumented api’s. Apple seems to have exceeded developer expectations on that front and delivered a product that can access all of the capabilities of the iphone and iPod Touch while simultaneously offering low barriers to entry and ready distribution. The SDK, despite its early bugs, appears to have been widely embraced and there are significant rewards in the offing to the developers that create popular apps.
The release has moved the iPhone from being a very cool cell phone to being the archetype of the mobile internet device; always on, always present, no limits to what or when something can be retrieved. It will put gaming, calling, music AND search in the hands of users all the time in every location and will (or something very much like it), like the iPod before it, become annoyingly present in our lives.
March 11, 2008
Milestone Talks To Matt Cutts From Google: Best Practices For Promoting Hotels Online. – Milestone, 4Hotliers
We have been doing a great effort for mobile devices and I think in the past year I have been struggling with what is going to be the future? Should mobile sites be designed for iPhones or SmartPhones?
The short answer to this question is the target market. If your target market is in the United States, it is quite evident that phones are going to get better and smarter. Soon phones will be getting even smarter, and have browsers that will be able to support richer websites. So I think the focus should be to concentrate on creating good websites that would look good in mobile browsers as well as regular browsers, instead of creating specialized websites for smart phones only.
GOOG Goes North – Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch
The Goog-411 service now works exactly the same in Canada as it does in the US. From LocalMobile: you are right that Goog411 is testing in Canada. The business data for Goog411 is coming from Yellow Pages Group.
Google Local Business Referral Rep - Ms. Crystal
Last August Google announced their Maps Referral program. Little has been from it since. Apparently the Google Maps incentive program is still alive and occasionally adding new recruits.
NSA’s Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data – WSJ.com
Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans’ privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But the data-sifting effort didn’t disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.
According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records.