In this article, we will take a close look at the role that maps and map listings, such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Bing Maps, are playing in the local search ecosystem. We will delve into how the data from those services is driving desktop, mobile, and voice search.
“As audiences age out, the number of print subscribers will plummet, and as older small business owners retire, old ways of doing business … retire with them as well,” David Mihm writes to Mike Blumenthal. “Legacy media companies that don’t evolve rapidly are going to be left with no audience and no customers.”
It’s often said in the ad-tech world, and other sectors that are reliant on data, that “Content is King, but Data is God.” This is increasingly true in local ad-tech and martech given the need for “ground-truth” conversions to attribute ROI. And it will equally apply in local AR.
As of this year, the task of updating the Local Search Ecosystem has been handed to Darren Shaw of Whitespark, who also inherited David Mihm’s other well-known brainchild, the Local Search Ranking Factors report. Last week, Darren released Local Search Ecosystem 2017, a bold departure in visual design and a much-needed update to the last edition, from 2014.
“The new consumer (and search) paradigm favors small-scale, hyper-focused boutiques close to population centers as opposed to horizontal big box retailers on suburban commercial strips,” David Mihm says to Mike Blumenthal in their bi-weekly conversation.
“When you buy a new Samsung device, the phone just does more than the iPhone or any other Android,” says Mayur Kamat, Hiya’s VP of product. “Without downloading or installing anything, the user can call a business in the same way they call their friends and family.”
“Google has been on a tear this past month in the DIY realm,” notes Mike Blumenthal in his bi-monthly conversation with David Mihm. “Three major product rollouts in a 30-day span; Websites, Posts and now SMS messaging. And Google only needs uptake on one of them to get a chance to sell Adwords Express.”
“At the very least you have to recognize your day-to-day experiences both discovering and interacting with small businesses are wildly different from customers in rural markets,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly chat.
While Google and Facebook may have a lock on consumers and big advertisers, in no way do they have a lock on SMB advertisers. If Dex Media/YP can provide a better experience for its advertisers, it’s got a real shot at keeping those fingers walking well into the future.
If you are involved in any form of SEO, you know how daunting it can be to keep up with Google algorithm updates. From the Mobile First Index to the Owl update to Google Fred, the tide is always shifting. It is important to step back a moment and take a look at what Google is trying to do.
Voice presents tremendous opportunities for location marketers to build their businesses, too. Companies such as Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks are tapping into voice to drive commerce, but the best way to capitalize on voice is to let consumers define your approach.
“In local, most businesses do not have a transaction so Google wants to control the action,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “If they can sell an ad, great, and if not then they take credit for a click or a call, driving directions or response to a CTA (and gather the data of those activities).”
Website builders have been around almost as long as the internet itself. As you would expect, this is a busy market. Sitebuilderreport.com tracks 35 vendors. There are many more. Interestingly, only 4 of the 35 vendors get a good rating. Clearly, this is a large market that is ready for new and better solutions.
Whether a business is local or not, content drives the bulk of digital marketing. A successful content marketing campaign involves topics that resonate with the intended audience, creates buzz on social media and attracts high quality links. Yet, the approach that many people take to content marketing is backward.
For many years, Physical Address in City of Search was the most important ranking factor, but it has now been overtaken by Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance). As such, the canonical local search use case has become a mobile user searching for a business nearby his or her current location.
“It’s incredible to me that given all of Google’s focus on new local products that they are still getting some of the basics wrong,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “People who rely on Google more and more to find local businesses need to know that the fundamental metric of the business quality, reviews, is fair and well policed.”
“I think some local managers in corporations are getting pushback as to why their local traffic is falling, and if it is why should they maintain local pages? What is hard to explain is that those pages DO feed Google,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. “But these locations need to be not just well structured, but easily found and crawled by Google, not hidden behind some opaque code.”
We’re surely moving in the direction of voice input to bots, but unless microphones advance — allowing you to request things with a near-silent whisper (or perhaps with thoughts) — people will continue to let their fingers do the talking.
The company’s chief executive, Jared Rowe, talked about where YP saw its sweet spot. In particular, he spoke of a “blended” print and digital model where publishers could move consumers “back and forth, and in between” to create more value for local businesses.