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MSN Debuts Local Search

     
5:47 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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[clickz.com...]

Microsoft's MSN has entered the local search war, debuting a beta product that incorporates city- and region-specific White and Yellow Pages business listings. The site also maps businesses and incorporates some locally targeted paid listings.

The new product from MSN lets users search either based upon their default location -- stored in a "settings" area -- or by specifying a geographic location. When users enter a query, they're returned a list of businesses, with addresses and phone numbers, sorted based on proximity. This data, which business owners can add to or edit, is provided by Amacai. Eventually, MSN has said, each business will have its own detail page.

Anyone played around with it yet? Thoughts/comments?

8:24 pm on June 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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MSN spoke on the LS panel with me a few hours ago here in NO.

A Google like display.
Proximity Ranked.
Internet derived data. (way too much reliance on keywords in business name for ranking).
No user reviews or ratings.
No rich business profile content.

Looks to me like this is an opportunistic first step into the local search arena after Near Me failed to compel users.

We'll see - don't want to sound too pesimistic, but play around a little, nothing of much significance here other than a new segmented LS property from a major.

Welcome to LS MSFT.

9:18 pm on June 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Maybe it's not perfect, but it's one more thing they have online that they can perfect before LongHorn. Then all of these new things can be incorporated, thus providing windows users with a quick and relatively effective way to search in various contexts.

I can't wait to see the effect this will have on Google's ewb search traffic.

9:37 pm on June 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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MSN Local Search is much better than that Google provides in my area. Not a bad start for a Beta..
9:57 pm on June 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Chicago - MSN were on a panel with you? Darn it - I should have read the timetable!

Who put me in charge of MSN search Brett? Sack me... Now!

Dixon!

10:20 pm on June 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>> one more thing they have online
>> not a bad start for a Beta

agreed.

i would like to hear some more feedback on results.

look at the proximity scores. how far are these results really from you? look at the names of the business relative to the search query. what do notice?

>>Sack me... Now!

Dixon! Stay "Near Me".

2:01 am on June 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Not impressed. Returned just one result for real estate near me. Should have returned dozens, as Google did.

A search for pizza didnt fare any better.

Back to the drawing board?

5:40 am on June 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Just stumbled across this forum today. Some interesting and informed dialog. I will enjoy reading this going forward. Nice job Chicago.

MSN offering not a bad start IMO. Not too hard for them to add the other bells and whistles in due course - reviews, ratings, links to related websites, etc. - though I am a bit surprised they didn't get them into the first release. Assuming you explicitly specify your search location using Settings, the results are about the same as G!Local and Y!Local as far as I can tell.

UI features are fun, and generally easy to copy, so IMO the greater potential for differentiation lies in superior content to enable more granular searches that enable more relevant search resutlts. And of course the magic equation is content drives traffic drives ad revenues.

I suspect that most users want to refine their local searches by additional products/services/brands/qualifications etc. Eg coffee shop with wireless internet. Or camera store open sunday afternoon with Leica digital cameras cos they want to check one out in the flesh before they rush back home to buy it on the Internet.

Joe Average's favorite local search site of tomorrow will be the one that does the best job of compiling, on a per listing basis, primary (provided by the business itself) and secondary (provided via an indirect reference to the business on another website - either by crawling or as a direct feed) information about the business.

I'm sure the big boys understand this and are working as much on content acquisition as they are the search experience.

Not that I am involved in such a thing, but I wonder if there is an opportunity for a meta local search site - kinda like Google News for local search. Consumers would use such a site for the same reason they use Google News (no one site has everything, but between them they have most of what we want). Just a random thought...

12:33 pm on June 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I'd rather see MSN update their SERPS.
1:26 pm on June 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Not intuitive enough and results are useless. I'll stick with yahoo and Google.
1:49 pm on June 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I mentioned this in another thread, but I will say it here again:

I think the web results simply added to the end of the local results is a pretty weak hedge. They can't figure out what it is you are looking for, so they just give you a bunch of everything. Not much in the way of search 'intelligence'.

9:22 am on June 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I'm probably missing something quite obvious, but I don't see any paid advertising yet on MSN local (?)
10:57 am on June 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Not that I am involved in such a thing, but I wonder if there is an opportunity for a meta local search site - kinda like Google News for local search. Consumers would use such a site for the same reason they use Google News (no one site has everything, but between them they have most of what we want). Just a random thought...

I believe there is something coming this fall called LocalSearch.com which will cover the whole country but is dedicated to providing only local results, depending on what user wants.

12:28 am on June 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Local results just consist of name, address, and phone number. That's pretty weak in comparison to the organic results, where you can find plenty of detailed info to use to make an intelligent decision about which company to contact.

I run a regional directory and I realize that someday local search could be a real threat to my business. This latest entry by MSN is not giving me cause to stay up late at night, worrying about my future...yawn

4:54 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Categorizing seems weak. As noted by Chicago, much emphasis on company name. Companies that rightfully belong in several categories are generally only displayed in one.
 

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