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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Eric Enge: Frazier Miller and Shailesh Bhat Interview on Yahoo Local

Eric Enge has an informative and detailed interview today with Frazier Miller and Shailesh Bhat on the inner workings of Yahoo Local.

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

For more key points from the interview ….

– For a business the only way to “lock down a listing” is to become a paid business partner with Yahoo.

– They do geo-code verification so a listing will be rejected if the address doesn’t code to an actual location. (Something that Google has yet to implement)

– The best way for businesses to insure that the data in Yahoo is accurate is to “one of the things that we encourage our businesses to do is to update the backbone providers when they have a change in information.” This applies to multi location businesses as well as single location operations.

– Yahoo manually moderates merchant and end user submitted changes

– They are validating the business URL to prevent showing an intermediary business (and prevent affiliate fraud).

– Yahoo is not using microformats as a way of extracting location information for Yahoo Local at this time

– “The distance parameter in itself is definitely one factor, but I think it is a slightly overrated factor in many cases. Categorization, I think, is especially important because of the way queries get generated.”

– In ranking, categorization is key. Yahoo looks to websites and the business listing description that owner provides “that the categorization is correct when there is a submitted listing on the self-service side”. “Where the merchant has not provided any data, but we have data from other sources, we essentially look out for the degree of agreement between various sources. That is one heuristic element that helps us in figuring out the right category.”

– “Product keywords in the record are very important [in affecting rank]. Reviews, ratings; essentially you could say depth of content when a merchant submits a listing is a factor that is useful.”

– Their web index does not play a huge role in ranking for local

– Mobile search on Yahoo’s oneSearch uses the same data set as Yahoo Local but will bias factors like distance or if known location in returning results.

-They’ve seen a 200% increase in geo-targeting advertisers in the last twelve months at Yahoo. “People have gone from state level and DMA level, which we have today, and are increasingly looking at things like city level and zip level. ”

– As they get more granularity in Local (ie move to more local specificity) there is a lack of advertising inventory and they are attempting to aggregate more ad quantities with outside exchanges via Yahoo Advertising Network