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Optimizing for time sensitive local events.

 1:32 am on Aug 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Any legs to this important component of local iyo?



 2:54 am on Aug 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

With the Y Local intro of the local events, if this notion of optimization didn't have legs before it certainly will have them shortly as people see the opportunity.

I find it very interesting that Y is pulling event information information into the business profile structure. They are doing it such that each event date has it's own profile. So a musical showing for 3 months has in theory 90 or so busines profiles listing, one for every show date. Not the best user experience IMO.

Regarding optimization for this, I have more questions and observations than answers at this point.

One of the things that has me puzzled is where/how Y is pulling event dates. In my very anecdotal observations, the referenced sites often did not have the event dates in a format that is easily digestible by a bot and parsed. In some examples they were in a flash format or images. Maybe they are using other sources (ticketmaster?). I would be very surprised if this information is hand tweaked. But who knows.


 2:20 am on Aug 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Optimizing at the source of the data is the key to local search.


 10:32 pm on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

yeah but you can only search and optimize what you can see..there is still alot of valuable information people want at the local level that just isn't available online. I mean amazon had to send trucks out onto the streets to take pictures that will be outdated in days...

the problem with local is that the beneficiaries of being visible don't understand the value of being visible and consequently don't have a web site or publish the critical information.

For example...why doesn't every restaurant in the world have its entire menu online?


 10:55 pm on Aug 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. And this...

Optimizing at the source of the data is the key to local search.

...seems to me to be critical, and problematic at the same time.

If the event listings I get submitted to me are any example (and they might not be), optimizing at the source is going to take some education.

It's stunning how many submissions barely give basic info, let alone provide anything that a search engine can deal effectively with.

Forget finding a submission that even approaches being optimized, very often they are missing info like what state they are in, the city, the specific location...... etc, etc.

A huge part of the problem is that submitters think TOO LOCALLY. That is to say, they apparently assume everyone that reads their listing will be local, and thus know the unspoken local references.

That might actually be true for the most part, but it pretty much assures that their listing will be unworkable for any kind of event calendar/directory/whatever, lrt alone local search. There just isn't enough info to categorize the listing effectively.

Even if you ask for further information, it's like pulling teeth with pain killer. :)

Now, can you educate these folks? My guess..... for the most part... no.

The pro promoters will get enough right after a while, but that pretty much only assures that the smaller events will be buried even further.


 2:39 pm on Aug 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Perhaps the key to unlocking this data is through the phone company. The reason I say this is that just about every local business has a phone number and a relationship with the phone company. The phone company is in a unique situation to a) replace their dying yellow page business and b) get the local content we all seem to want. How could they get it? They could give access to a SIMPLE event, info page where businesses can enter information. Done right, this could be a very simple way to collect data that currently is unavailable...even for the businesses without a web site...most business owners have access to the web.


 4:21 pm on Aug 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

why doesn't every restaurant in the world have its entire menu online?

Because most people, strangely enough, still aren't searching for restauarants online.

I run a local search engine. I know of about 15 others. I don't know what the others top category by search query is, but ours is restaurants by a LOT of queries.

I went to San Francisco the other day. I was sitting in front of my computer when my tummy told me I was hungry. What did I do?

I walked downstairs to the concierge in the hotel and asked for a recommendation.

Why did I do that? Did I really need to part with the $2 tip? Someone that I consider a good friend runs an insanely great user-submitted content site that's based in San Francisco.

Old habits die hard. Once those habits die, every local restaurant will understand and put their menus online.

Any legs to this important component of local iyo?

Yes, but like everything in this industry, the challenge is presenting it to the user in a meaningful way.


 7:12 pm on Aug 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

why doesn't every restaurant in the world have its entire menu online?

Amazon has slowly been aggregating a lot of online menus. The majority of local restaurants in my neighborhood don't have websites, however, their menus are scanned into Amazon. Not sure how the info is getting there, but when I need a menu for order in and don't have one, that's now the first place I'm looking.


 7:53 pm on Aug 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Optimizing at the source of the data is the key to local search.

Absolutely. So the question for optimization of events is where are the local sources for events and can they be manipulated or at least view and checked to insure data population? Without explicit knowledge of the sources, the suggestion would be to find any area on the web that aggregates such information and place your info there. This is also, just good marketing in general. But the 64000 dollar question stands, specifically where should an optimizer spend their efforts to enter event information?

Old habits die hard. Once those habits die, every local restaurant will understand and put their menus online.

It's a consumer behavior driven by generational habits no doubt. There will always be multiple outlets for information this information. The concierge will always have a place in a hotel (although in the future, aside from a kickback from a recommended restaurant, he/she might use a local search tool to help find answers :) ).

We'll see a large swing in usage in the coming years as the largest users of the internet-based community utilities grow up. Right now is all about capturing user marketshare in the early stages. The great local search land grab.


 5:29 am on Aug 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

General Search has a very big problem, and it is not SEO of any colour; rather, it is determining relevance over time.

Basic examples:
* two sites last updated in 1997: one discussing the American Civil War is likely just as current now as then; one discussing website design is certainly not.
* two directories linking to Bed & Breakfast Inns: one created in 1999 and last updated in 2001; one created in 2004 and last updated yesterday.
Yet the site of outdated content and the directory of broken links are both "top ten" SE results.

The inability to determine general search page/site time-relevance creates great doubt in their ability to provide "time sensitive" local search via algorithm.

Currently local events are promoted by multiple local ad sales people (usually from newspapers) personally requesting (time and time again) the information. Daily/weekly commodity/event/price change submissions to all and sundry SEs by individual businesses is not going to happen any time soon.

Also, this type of information is likely to be accessed mainly by smartphones, PDAs, and similar handheld devices which means rather different markup and styling than the usual website that many/most of these businesses still do not have.

It does create several niche markets. Niches with higher than usual e-business overhead due to the number of salespeople required. Educational, inspirational, technically conversant non-minimum wage salespeople. Definitely not the normal SE-by-bot market at all.

None of the various web "communities" that have come and gone and come again have been able to provide sufficient social information value to last. Adding such a layer to SE-by-bot and various business directories is an interesting experiment.

However, I have not yet seen results worth the effort (and expense).

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