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Maybe that should say niche-niche directory. I'm thinking of what might be very small directories, maybe less than 10,000 listings, depending on the listing criteria. Possibly even less than 5,000 high quality informative listings.
Small directories like this might deal with businesses that are not likely to be very web savy, if at all. Such a directory may well have the best online data available for some of these businesses.
So, can a small directory like that provide info that is usefull to the local search sites? Useful enough to be listed as a resource or reference on the local search page for a given business?
For example: Strip Clubs.
There some outstanding niche strip club directories that cater specifically to their clientele - including things like high quality images, related industries, a look & feel consistent with the subject matter, etc. - stuff that the mainstream Local directories simply can't do, and will never be able to do to that level.
of course, i am commenting from a purely technical perspective :)
The issue is about specialization and rich and deep meta content. The issue is about vertical depth vs. horizontal range.
The issue is about understanding a vertical/ geo-vertical better than any SE can do. But more than that, this is about understanding the *intent of the user* and *user needs* better than an SE can.
One of the reasons that Local SEs came into being in an environment extraneous of traditional pure search is that result set display (notwithstanding different algos) has different requirements, namely proximity scores, mapping, reviews, and ratings. It is through the seperation of local, or segmentation as I call it, that affords the SEs the ability to *drill down into the needs of the local search user and create unique display environments in accordance with these needs*.
Carrying out this logic or trend, you can see how the more you specialize (niche-niche) the more you can drill down on the intent of the user. And the more you can offer result-sets based upon the *unique attributes of a user's search and review process*.
As important of a trend as Local is, Vertical search is as important. Vertical search means niche, specialization, and drill down. And when you combine the geo + the vertical you can drill even deeper. This drill down, specialization activity, will mark search innovation in the years to come.
Lawrence's example is a great one. SEs will never provide this drill down content that he mentions (which is applicable to most industries). They can't, due to their inability to standardize cross vertical requirements. This is why there will be a marketplace for niche players, and this is why it will be a viable business model for those that can execute effectively.
Pretty encouraging answers. As you might have guessed, my perspective is that a small, specialized directory can have the possibilty of digging out, and presenting the important info at a level of detail and accuracy that bigger players might find difficult.
Lots to think about, thanks again.
I believe Ken is talking about that nature by which Google Local for example finds and ranks web pages.
G local is unique in that its ranking structures have attributes that are not too different than its traditional ranking structures.
References: superpages.com - 4 more »
References: nichdirectory.com - 4 more »
This is information listed underneath a G Local result set. From what is known, G is crawling the web looking for structured references to local businesses ~ not too dissimilar to the way the Page Rank algo works. Often you will find authoritative references, like IYPs, and often times, you will find niche directories. Consistant and comprehensive referenced local data is helpful to your rank, in addition to proximity scoring and pinch of good old keyword targeting (new thread topic).
Personally speaking I think Google cares less about the structure of any one niche directory and more about the consistant and comprehensive distribution of business data accross a myriad of directory-like sources. In fact, I have seen some of the ugliest directories listed as G local references. The reference designate is less a designate of authority as it is a random sample of data propagation sources. Clearly, however, G has a algo bias to YP data and the ol' structured data aggregators.
Notwithstanding those points, the question as to whether a niche directory can serve to feed local search algorythms is a question that is on the minds of many. Mostly because of the format of G local result sets. By creating a directory that is referenced frequently, the directory benefits by distribution value.
And at the other end of the spectrum, one might consider the aggregation of niche directory content as a potential authoritative license feed opporunity to the local SEs.
Much of this is unfounded speculation without much basis in reality. There is only a handful of select organizations with such a formal algorythmic designate, and I think that the real science and opportunity is concentrating on the aggregation of rich and specialized content and less about the potential for this content to feed prominant local search utilities.
Is that an accurate depiction, Ken?
[edited by: Chicago at 4:23 am (utc) on Jan. 14, 2005]
What seemed odd to me is that we were doing very well in the regular SERPS, but not even on the map in the Google Local results.
Her answer (paraphrasing), is that there isn't anything you can do - that google Local will find you. She said that they look for pages with local specific info - stuff like addresses, zip codes, references to the location, etc.
Sure enough, a couple months ago, we started showing up in the local results, without doing anything special (deep links from local authorities or such).
So I'm not sure how the principle google algo factors into the G local rankings - all i know that there differences between the two significant enough to allow sites to place top 3 in the main SERPS, yet not show up at all in the Google Local results.
Encouragingly, I've definitely seen a number of niche directories well placed in both the main SERPS and the G local result sets.