Information Wants to Be Free, but Local Data Is Currency

The sizable overlap between consumer-generated information and enterprise control is experienced every day in the world of local search.Though few local search companies could exist without licensed data, once that data gets inside their walls, it becomes a foundation upon which consumer-generated data adds value to a service…

Local Mapping Services and the Public Trust

The towering presence of Google in the mapping world today is testament to its success in product development, but this also indicates something else. People don’t just think of maps as a product to be consumed. It seems that we have begun to consider mapping services as a public trust…

How Mobile’s Demographic Shift Impacts Local

It seems that young people in the 18-24 demographic spend, on average, more time on mobile devices today than they do watching television. It also appears that mobile usage is far ahead of “playing games and computer use for leisure.” What does this mean for the future of local search and local media? I would say it’s not unlike the lessons the Republican Party was forced to confront in the aftermath of its recent election defeat…

Google’s Local Offerings Have Gotten Too Complicated

The extended Google+ Local rollout has been more troublesome than most. Usually when Google has experimented with social services in the past, such as Google Buzz and Google Wave, it has done so in a tangential way that does not threaten core functionality. With Google+, the gamble is to make social the center of all search activity, and yet the full realization of a social context for Google’s local search tools has yet to appear…

SMBs on Mobile: Questions of Analytics and Performance

The proliferation of mobile apps for local continues, with all major local search players maintaining their own apps, and Apple’s App Store currently returning 347 results for the phrase “local search.” With all of this attention, the time is not far away when businesses will begin to get concerned about the presence, accuracy, and effectiveness of their listings on mobile apps. I’d love to see a service that aims at comprehensive analysis of SMB presence across the “app space” for Android and Apple…

Memo to Google: Solve the Local Data Problem With Local Data

I think we can now state definitively that the big upsurge in claimed listings that might have occurred as a result of Google’s choice to embed local listings within its social network, a little over five months ago, will not happen on its own. Rather than achieving Facebook levels of adoption, Google+ Local is still an arena where participation depends heavily on early adopters as well as the assistance of local SEO consultants and companies like mine…

The Role of Directories in the New Local Ecosystem

Marissa Mayer’s announcement that Yahoo would be moving its focus away from local search, along with some other significant factors in the developing local ecosystem, calls into question the continued viability of a robust marketplace of local directory and search sites. Here are a few harbingers of a potentially more consolidated future…

How Siri Works and Why It Matters for Local

It’s pretty clear that Siri’s interpreter can examine a spoken query for syntax and keywords in order to trigger what it thinks is the most relevant web service. Often when Siri gets it wrong, this is because it has made a mistake about which service to call. In my experience, Siri is somewhat over-eager to assume you want local businesses when you say a word that sounds like a product or service category…

Waze Highlights Inconsistencies in Local Data

There are too many different ways to categorize businesses, and none of them represents a unified standard for online search. Such a standard if widely implemented would make all businesses categorized as grocery stores line up neatly with each other and would provide a significant boost in overall relevancy…

What Can Online Directories Learn From the Yellow Pages?

I’m not advocating a return to the phone book, but I am curious about the lesson it might have to teach us. In particular, the notion of restricted and curated data sets may be worth a revisit. Without foregoing the benefits of scalability, search sites could do more to enable the curation of local data by business owners and other members of local communities…

Apple Maps: Taking the Long View

There’s no dancing around the fact that the much-anticipated launch of Apple Maps has turned into a fiasco for the company. Yet there’s little doubt Apple will buff out this particular blemish with time. The interesting part will be seeing exactly how the company chooses to address the gap in expertise that led to the current sub-par product. A big acquisition of talent or technology seems likely…

What Do SMBs Really Need From Digital Platforms?

Amidst the fog of buzzwords and the scramble for investment dollars, are locally targeted startups solving problems that are worth the effort? Within that industry we all generally have a conviction that our products and services matter, but we do spend a lot of our time within a circle of people who don’t need convincing. If our ultimate constituency is the business owner, the question we should ask is: “What really matters to SMBs?”

How Can Local Search Better Serve Service-Oriented Businesses?

Local search isn’t just about brick and mortar. In fact, a very large number of the local businesses we interact with on a frequent basis are service-area oriented. And yet service-oriented businesses make something of a poor fit in a local search model that is oriented toward my physical location and the proximity of nearby businesses on a map…

Reputation Management: Making the Connection with Small Businesses

Now that everyone has a timeline of online activities going back several years — one that family members, prospective employers, and potential life partners are looking at and judging us by — we have all become public figures to an extent, and at the same time we’ve had to transform ourselves into hall monitors of our own online activities. So why hasn’t reputation management become a de facto part of every small business marketing plan?

Where Do Business Listings Come From?

At some point in the future, local data must become purely digital, because the phone book will not be around forever. But until a critical mass of U.S. businesses understands the rationale for managing online data, this fundamental problem will continue. We need the concerted effort of all local search players to educate the local business community and advocate for the transition to digital data…

Facebook and the Latent Local Layer

If Facebook were to really turn its attention to local, it could do some amazing things. Imagine if all of our posts and check-ins related to local restaurants were correlated together in a meaningful way. There’s little doubt Facebook could recommend the new place down the street based on your preferences and those of others similar to you, with a high likelihood of successfully predicting what you will like…

Deep Data and the Semantics of Local

In the case of local search, there is no prevailing reason beyond lack of attention to prevent the industry from doing a better job of serving the full range of consumer needs. For the time being, industry attention is still directed in a self-fulfilling way toward the activities that have always received attention. This is the safe bet, but safe bets don’t lead to progress…

The Long Tail of Local Search

Far from invisible tools that merely get you to the store or service you want, local search products actually tell a story about the needs local search companies think they are trying to fulfill, demonstrating in some cases a stark contrast between the actual habits of the local consumer and the assumptions of local apps and websites…