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A1 - Local Businesses

Can't we moved beyond this?



10:43 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

With all of this new technology, I find it pretty remarkable that so many local search properties have yet to manage a way to progress beyond crediting local businesses for choosing (or even worse, faking) alphabetically superior names in order to rank higher.

AAA Aardvark Plumbers.

Is this what passes as relevancy in this modern, ultra-sophisticated version of the printed yellow pages? I, for one, certainly hope not.

Yet, time and time again I see local search properties who consider alphabetical ranking as one of their primary sorting factors.

Please, IYPs and local search engines, free us from 1000 listings of A-1-A Pizza. Focus your energies on what people are really looking for-- the best and closest businesses that match our search. Not the one that starts with A.


11:25 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


interesting, thanks.

and what too is very interesting in non-alpha structured local search results is new trends towards the keyword optimization of business names for pure search. it works very well for many local engines and is replacing the AAA issue you raise in pure local search - although as you express it is still prevalent online, namely in backfill.


11:39 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Agreed. In fact, in terms of "local search optimization" current best practices, I'd say 1A + Business Name (ideally starting with an 'a' or a '1' + Keyword appears to be the best way to go almost everywhere across the board.

But, as the search engines strive to improve local search results, I still have to wonder if this is the best that can be done?

Chicago- can you see more of a shift being made toward user-generated data such as reviews, and less reliance on data which is virtually of no consequence to the end-user like alpha order?


3:37 am on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

can you see more of a shift being made toward user-generated data such as reviews, and less reliance on data which is virtually of no consequence to the end-user like alpha order?

I know this question was directed at Chicago, but I'll chime in, just because I'm feeling chatty. :)

The desire for SEs or IYPs or whatever the destination property, revolves around determining user intent and providing results according. Right now user-generated reviews, proximity to the searchers, and consideration of meta content in the search algo are already playing much more of a role in certain properties. It will be a while before there is enough data out there to make a quantum shift apparent and truly meaningful.

In the end the alpha presentation will become a remnant option for sorting data at most. Even now, the IYPs which are the legacy in terms of technology are already starting to move to pure search environments. Incorporating these variables is the next step.


2:43 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>Chicago- can you see more of a shift being made toward user-generated data such as reviews, and less reliance on data which is virtually of no consequence to the end-user like alpha order?

without question.

but without question, this content will too be the source of optimization.

but it will be different and harder to manipulate in quantity.


6:51 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Little note on the topic. Using A in the title isn't just beneficial for Yellow Page ads, but most directories. DMOZ and other popular ones list alphabetically, so having an A in the name guarantees a link higher up on the page. Also directories that go 8 pages deep won't give much weight SEO wise to a link that is in the T's.

I'm certain we'll see technology advance past the alphabetical listings and turn to something based on an algorithim. Possibly click-throughs, user reviews and other factors will be analyzed to determine who ranks highest.

Can someone pick me up a Mountain Dew next time they head down to the lobby? =)


4:18 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

ST- Since you ditched everyone tonight to go watch southside baseball, you'll have to wait for your Mountain Dew until Monday;)

BTW- Alpha-based rankings by the local properties is nothing but lazy programming. Period.


7:07 pm on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There's a downside for a business to using this trick: when I shop, I associate the "A1A" part of "A1A Cleaners" with low quality operations. I skip right past all of them, and have for years (even back in the yellow pages days).

A better trick to get me is to spam the directory. List the same business as "A1A Yellow Cab" and "Reliable Yellow Cab".


5:09 am on Aug 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you're searching for a specific company (or you can't remember exactly what it is called), then alphabetical listings are the best format I think. Starts with a 'k' I think... There's nothing more annoying than being fed a lot of what appears to be uncategorized/unsorted data.

I'm a big fan of having a default set of listings (alphabetized), then a separate section for "top rated listings" or "most viewed."

When I use a traditional YP I don't go with the first listing. I look at several listings, pare them down to 3 or 4 chosen ones, then call them up. Alphabetizing has little to do with my pruning process, but it gives me a frame of reference that's comfortable to work in. It also makes them easy to find if I go back and look for "A-1 Cleaners."

If this is how most people use a YP, then it seems like you should cater to them as you try to get them to drop the book and use your IYP instead. The service you're providing is the ratings... you're making the paring process easier for them, but they're unlikely to call up the first cleaner on your list just because you list it first.


11:16 pm on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

But IYP's have another, arguably better, default search option -- distance from the user's location. That could be expressed in miles, or in minutes given a suitable routefinding effort. Or, they can sorted by user rating. Or sort at random (really random) for fairness.

Or :-) sort by how much the advertiser wants your business.


12:04 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Totally agreed-- distance would definitely be a superior starting point. Of course, distance relative to city/zip code geocenters is only so useful... Why aren't membership-driven destinations calculating these figures from home/work addresses? That seems like a logical progression (and they already have our addresses).


6:10 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It appears to me that Yahoo Local's newest upgrade (some of which is apparently live), discussed here: [webmasterworld.com...] - includes some notable changes unrelated to the new features.

It appears that Yahoo is now trying to use more search and less reliance on relative distance and alphabet. In fact, they also seem to be weighing ratings less in their "new" algo-- although I have yet to determine exactly how/why (isn't this what the social networking changes are all about?).

Unfortunately, what I have seen so far are less than desirable search results. Many test searches are yielding results outside of their category-- sometimes clearly matching phrases occuring only once in user reviews, and very broadly matched at that.

As a result, I have already spotted several occurances of result sets where the top positions are occupied by the wrong types of businesses, not even in the right category-- while relevant local results (closer in distance, and even aphabetically superior), complete with positive user reviews, are pushed to the second page.

While I obviously support a more substantial focus on the search component inherent to properties like Yahoo Local-- even alphabetical organization of categories provides more relevant results than what I see today.


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