Dashâ€™s Car Navigator Gives Smart Directions, if Others Participate – Walt Mossburg, WSJ
I have not really been following the Dash but after having read Mossburg’s article in the WSJ it struck as quite significant that your car would act as a data “probe” to provide real time traffic information to a community of users. Very Cool.
Announcing LeaveFeedback.org, Free Service for Local Businesses – Michael Jensen, SoloSEO
This is very useful product that I will hopefully have more time to write about later. It vastly simplifies the process by which a small business gets reviews from his/her customer. It is the last 50 feet of local and creates a “virtuous cycle” with benefits for all.
Facebook Pages & Local Search Engine Optimization – Andrew Shotland, LocalSEOGuide
I am not a facebook maven but this technique appeared to be valuable.
Global Temperature Trends for Google Earth – Frank Taylor, Google Earth Blog
I never ceased to be amazed at the wondrous information that makes it way into a map these days. This is one of those cases and what you see in Google Earth today, you will see in Google Maps tomorrow (not literally but you knew that).
Google Maps for mobile gets native on UIQ – Sean Cooper, enGadgetMobile
I recognize that this is old news that I meant to post a while ago. When you combine this effort to claim prime real estate on your cell phone screen with the reports of a new interface for Google mobile I see Google maneuvering to become the habitual choice in the world of mobile with or without the carriers.
Ahmed of iBegin has just written an insightful piece about fighting local spam in response to the recent articles that have appearedÂ , SearchEngineland, eClick, Small Business SEM and here about affiliate spam at Yahoo. He sites some interesting statistics that only 1/2 of 1% of all user edits are malicious. However the impact of these motivated few can be widespread.
In his post he details types of local spam, techniques for coping with it and defines some of the gray areas that exist. It starts an important first step for the Local industry: self analysis, questioning and conversation that really needs to take place amongst the industry leaders.
From where I sit these these questions and more need to be asked:
â€¢What is mapspam?
â€¢What is a reasonable approach to to the varying forms of it?
â€¢How do we respond to it?.
â€¢What are the technical and human limits to these efforts?
â€¢Which technologies and investments are critical?
â€¢What types of forward facing reporting mechanisms do we need?
It really is an “industry issue” that if it is not dealt with by the industry will rise to the level of new laws at local, county and state levels that will be much more onerous than the most strict of internal policing.
Matt McGee has in interview, Yahoo Localâ€™s Affiliate Spam: â€˜A Unique Caseâ€™, with Brian Gil, Director of Product Management for Yahoo! Local in which he responds to the recent affiliate spam articles at SearchEngineLand and eClick:
â€œWe havenâ€™t seen what I would categorize as significant abuse issues. Iâ€™m not going to speak specifically to the hotel thing. That one is a unique case. We have been looking into itâ€¦. Weâ€™ll take the appropriate action, but my gut is telling me that itâ€™s not nearly as suspect as what was written up. â€œ
Matt noted that “Brian did explain that there are times when businesses want to use a unique URL in their business listing for tracking purposes, but this didnâ€™t appear to be one of those cases.”
My response: This activity is either is authorized by the hotels or it isn’t.
If it is authorized then I offer my apologies for the wrong assumptions and any problems I may have caused by reporting it. If isn’t authorized by the hotels then it is suspect. In fact it would be more than suspect and my continuing research indicates that the problem is larger than I originally reported at SEL.
Here is the summary of my research across several markets analyzing the % of affiliate populated hotel records using known affiliate urls:
||Total Yahoo Hotel Listings for City + Hotel in Markets
||Number of links Associated with same affiliate
||New York, NY LA, Ca
||San Antonio, Tx
San Diego, Ca
San Jose, Ca
San Francisco, Ca
Note that particularly in the small market segment, there might be some overlap as they frequently abut the larger markets and it is possible that I counted the same listing twice. However, also note that we are only looking at one affiliate’s urls in one market segment. One assumes that any good blackhat practice doesn’t go unreproduced for long.
As for Brian’s satement: â€œWe havenâ€™t seen what I would categorize as significant abuse issues.” That is like saying “there are 7,540 banks in this country and we only had one robbery last month so it is not a significant problem”. Tell that to the Bank president and tell it to the citizen living down the street.
I suppose that if there are only 862 records out of 16 million that are erroneous it is not in fact a significant problem. But I would also contend that one deceptive record is too many let alone the 862 that showed up in my limited research. I would also contend that Yahoo, Google and the IYP’s need to be more transparent on the issue of mapspam, its reporting and removal.
It used to be a relatively simple job to get your address changed when you moved a business. You simply needed to contact the four or five principal parties; the Post Office, the Phone Company, your Yellow Page Rep (actually he would track you down), the Newspaper and your current customer base.
In the Internet age this process has become more complicated. The PlusBox from Google manages to excacerbate the problem by highlighting your old address for what seems like forever.
I have over the past several weeks written about the problem of erroneous address information in the Google PlusBox (here and here) and recently Bill Slawski covered the issue with one of his Google patent reviews.
But I felt the urge to respond to this familiar sounding message requesting help with their erroneous PlusBox in the Google Maps for Business Group the other day. I posted my response at SearchEngineLand:
Change Your Address In The Google Plusbox In 5 Simple Steps
To Sphinn the SEL article
Google’s addition of the Local 10-Pack piqued my curiosity about its affect on Maps visitation. As I reported yesterday, according to Hitwise, visitation has gone up on the order of 21% since January 23rd.
This begged the question of, at whose expense was this market share gain by Google. In the past MapsQuest has suffered in direct proportion as Google has gained market share in the mapping world. Yesterday, Heather Hopkins, Hitwise provided a current chart comparing market share of Mapsquest, Google, Yahoo & MSN:
â€¢Google’s market share has increased 1.98% since the January 5th.
â€¢Mapquest’s share has declined 2.03% in that same time period.
â€¢Yahoo’s share has increased .05%, mostly since March 6th.
Clearly, the 10-Pack had its desired affect for Google of passing more users into Maps and away from Mapquest. That was to be expected and had been seen in most previous Google “upgrades”. The rate of change though, if it continues, is alarming and could portend a Google leadership position in the mapping market sooner rather than later.
More surprising to me was the upward bounce that Yahoo received from their March 6 Local announcement (see: Yahoo! Maps Updated With New Data and Functionality!) and the obvious effect that it has had on MapQuest’s market share.
Yahoo Local had been in a steady market share decline for the previous year. This upward swing indicates that it is still a 3 horse race and that MapQuest needs to be looking over their shoulder for both Google and Yahoo. Perhaps Yahoo can stem the general downward trend in their market share with their promised upgrades in 2008.
A 2% loss of market share in less than 2 months does not bode well for Mapquest maintaining its market leading position if its makert share erodes with every upgrade from both Google and Yahoo.
Here is the January 5th Market share chart from Hitwise chart for comparison:
The question that eClick raised in a recent article about affiliate Mapspam at Yahoo: So, how many instances of affiliate spam are there on Yahoo Local?, motivated me to do a little research.Â I have published the results at SearchEngineland today.
This is a cautionary tale for Yahoo, Google or any company that allows user generated content in their local product. These affiliate spammers are deceptively providing a “service” that is unneeded and unwanted. Does it cross the line and become criminal? Read the full story: A New Scourge For Yahoo: Affiliate Mapspam
Sphinn this story
I have noted in the past that Google very much controls their own destiny when it come to traffic to their Maps product. In early January, Heather Hopkins took a year long look at the growth of Google Maps traffic at the expense of Mapquest. Google has often made changes that has improved their traffic while negatively affecting the traffic of their main competitors, MapQuest and Yahoo. You can see a graphic illustration of their power to control their own destiny in this chart.
The January introduction of the Local 10-pack is another obvious example of this trend. At the time of the 10-pack introduction Google clearly indicated that they were striving for increased consumer awareness of Maps. On March 18th Google’s Hanke noted to Greg Sterling: (Hanke) wouldn’t tell me specifics about whether traffic to Maps had increased as a result. However, he said that Google was pleased with the change and it was having the desired effect.
This morning, Heather Hopkins has provided me with updated Google Maps traffic figures that confirm a roughly 21% upswing in Map’s traffic over the past 2 months since the official Janaury 23rd introduction of the Local 10 Pack:
It will be interesting to see if this growth came once again at the expense of Google’s competitors, MapQuest and Yahoo. I am betting that it has.
Googleâ€™s LBC: Now With More Fiber- Mike Boland, Kelsey Group
A good summary of how the inclusion of video in the Google LBC can benefit local search marketing. Interestingly, he points out that Google was allowing (c)ompanies such as TurnHere and eLocalListing were already uploading this content for their SMB clients via direct partnership, but this essentially makes it possible for more firms to do it with less friction.
State-of-the Art: Trends in Mobile Search – Jeff Quip, AimClear Blog
An good summary of the session at SES New York 2008 search marketing conference. Outlines in broad details the history & future of the mobile search market and why it makes sense to be there now
Google search plug-in for Windows Mobile promises more of the same – Tim Conneally, BetaNews
Notes the availability of a plug-in for Windows Mobile devices, which provides a shortcut on the home screen to Google’s search. He also provides anectdotal reports of Google mobile search dominance and how this supports that dominance.
New comScore IYPÂ Data – Greg Sterling, Screenwerk
The numbers indicate that Yellowpages.com network have a significant share of the IYP searches. But it is hard to tell since as Greg points out “(t)hese traffic data donâ€™t capture local search on the main search engines, which is where much of the local query volume is.”
700MHz Non-Surprise: Verizon & AT&T Win Auction Blocks – Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch
Google’s wireless-auction loss called possible win – Eric Auchard, Reuters
Google Inc’s losing bid for coveted wireless airwaves may prove a victory for the Web search leader as it still stands to get access to mobile networks without spending tens of billions of dollars to build one, analysts said on Thursday.
Wall Street analysts said the Silicon Valley Internet search and advertising giant has succeeded in forcing open network requirements upon winning bidder Verizon Communications via Google’s apparent strategy of “bidding to lose.”
This thread appeared in the Google Maps Troubleshooting Group in which Maps Guide Jen confirmed that there is a 5 edit limit to the number of Maps edits that can be made at one time:
TOPIC: Editing limits
== 1 of 3 ==
Date: Wed, Mar 19 2008 2:04 pm
From: firstname.lastname@example.org I’m going around my town, looking up places I know of, especially
fairly newly opened places, and updating them in Google Maps.
But after every 5 edits or so, I get a message saying “You’ve edited
too much lately, come back later.”
This is dumb. I’m actively trying to go around my town fixing places,
and I don’t see the point in doing 5 now, then having to wait an hour,
do 5 more, wait another hour, 5 more, etc. I’ll just stop doing it,
because it’s not worth the insulting annoyance.
== 2 of 3 ==
Date: Wed, Mar 19 2008 2:12 pm
Actually, I think it’s great. Google wants to prevent people from
abusing the system. They don’t know if what you are doing is true or
not, so they limit the number of times you can do it.
If you understand, that’s fine. If you want to be insulted by it,
that’s fine too. But, then, how do you propose they prevent abuse?
== 3 of 3 ==
Date: Wed, Mar 19 2008 3:33 pm
From: “Maps Guide Jen”
Nobody likes spam (unless it’s spiced ham, in which case I’m all for it),
but we’re definitely not out to frustrate you and prevent you from using
this feature, either. I’m making a note of your request. Thanks for your
feedback, and thanks as always, NWT, for your insights!
Steve Espinosa has noted on his blog that Maps is now supporting the option of adding a video to your business record in the Local Business Center. The feature is now live.
The process of adding a video is similar to adding a photo. The business is allowed to display up to 5 videos in their Maps record and once they are added in the LBC, they show up immediately in the Map record. Interestingly they display before the photos.
Maps Record Screenshot:
Local Business Center Add Video Screenshot: