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Looking at my logs, most of my referrals are from Google Local. This means that most of the surfers go to Google Local and about 10% are not satisfied and try the websites listed by google local.
Do you folks have the same experience or is it just me?
Would that matter to Google? They can serve half as many of the same ads on their own "local" search result pages, pocketing all the money.
The only way they'd lose out is if people were getting to where they wanted to go with over 50% fewer obtrusive pages (search results, directories, etc.) intervening. And I think Google would probably count that as a win anyway -- it would represent such a substantial improvement in service, that they could figure on making up the money some other way. (Popup hailstorms run up a maximum amount of PPV ads per page view, but you don't get return customers. Google is in it for the long term.)
This is probably true in the long term. But for now, google is not serving any adsense on its local results page. This means that adsense revenue on all the local directories that lost traffic due to local-google (go-lo ;)) is lost google revenue.
Of course, having said that, they'll probably start showing adwords on their "local" serp pages.
Let's cut to thet bottom line: if you want to survive, then you are going to have to compete with the locals. To do that, you probably going to have to appear as if you are "local" in nature.
February was the best ever (by far) for our 4-year-old business, and March topped that by 10%. Then, in the waning days of March, our traffic dropped noticeably, and stays depressed even now.
Yet, we continue to rank very well (top 3) in the SERPS, and even gained a point in toolbar PR. We're not a seasonal business, so I don't know what else to blame it on.
So, I think it's justified that e.g. in response to a search for "Ford Mytown MyState", Google delivers the Yellow Pages entry of the local dealership and a map as the first search result.
Of course, this makes it harder for (in this example) nationwide car shopping directories and auto part info sites with contextual ads. Few searchers will go beyond the basic Yellow Page info.
This is sad in a way, because there are many elaborate sites based on local-type searches that will be less likely to be found now. People looking for "Pizza Palo Alto CA" will be less likely to find that great site that reviews all Italian restaurants in Palo Alto (another made-up example).
The results can also give an unfair advantage to businesses in the geographical center of a town.
I wonder what may come next. Today local yellow page info, tomorrow local message boards and weather, next week maybe local matchmaking services, classifieds and meetups. Google could become the next Microsoft, integrating as much "outside" services into their search as possible. Technically, it would not be a problem, and it would make their site stickier and the results much cleaner. (This is not an attack on Google, just common sense. This is what I would try, long-term, if I were them.)
P.S.: Did anyone else catch Conan O'Brien's joke about Google and 1984? Funny.
P.P.S.: Is anybody else seeing gross mistakes in the "local" results? For example, searching for "Churches MyTown MyState" yields a list of churches ONLY from a neighboring town. It seems that Google prefers a yellow page entry 5 miles away over a phonebook entry 0.2 miles away, or maybe some sources are not complete (?).
Does local Google herald the end of free listing for location keywords?
I suspect this is another step toward the end of free commercial SE listing.
Guess who is soon going to be running XYZCounty.com, ABCCounty.com - the counties where I primarily practice law?
The counties below aren't my counties but here is what people are already searching in Overture, with extension:
At the level of the all important "local search" guess what? You don't need a SE. It's not that hard to get the word out locally. It doesn't even require the yellow pages. Locally, I can get the word out about 'local search brought to you by XYZCounty.com' - gaining mind share - just by having a good brand - like XYZCounty.com - posted a few times in the local useless news rag, plastered on a few trucks (free promo/website for a banner on truck), on a 100 bumper stickers (friends and family), ... you get the idea.
Guerilla marketing's home IS local. Here's a free hot tip, probably worth your WW member subscription: If your county is ABCCounty.com and there's no website at the address (but somebody owns it) then it's high time for you to finally buy a domain in the aftermarket. (I'm not seling mine. Frankly, over the long haul I think county domains may prove to be the some of the most valuable properties - when built out and weighed against the cost of operation - on the web, backed by the proper community website software.)
Yeah, yeah, yeah there will be cases of people outside the local area who may not see the bumper stickers, etc., but if ever there was a case for type-in search: LosAngeles.com, etc, - it's local.
Unless there's one helluva lot of consolidation the war for local is going to be pitting 1000s of Davids against the Goliaths and my money is on David.
So, before you go blowing $1000s on AdWords I suggest you mine around in your own backyard. For a heck of a lot less than $16,000 year I think I will be able to do one heck of a job bringing in new clients locally. A few years ago I ran test of my local strategy and it worked so well I pulled the plug on the test since I already had a few too many projects and clients.
[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 8:28 pm (utc) on April 10, 2004]
[edit reason] lets leave any and ALL specific searches out of webmasterworld :-) [/edit]
If google were to replace all of its results for my city with local results only, then I would be in big trouble. The quality of the local results at this point for my site's specialization are quite poor. I'm keeping my eyes on things.
If google pulls the rug out from under me, then I'll be able to get by with traffic from other SEs and I'm also expanding my local advertising program to try to reduce dependence on SEs.
I still can never find the actual hotel I want . . .
Brett said: "To do that, you probably going to have to appear as if you are "local" in nature."
Great point - the question is who do you "appear local in nature"?
Is it a zip code and address on the page?
Is it a local area code phone / number?
Do outbound links to other "local" sites?
The only person searching for EssexCounty.com is the owner of the site running webposition.
Check every major county in any state with Overture's tracking tool. You will see a similar pattern. I doubt everyone searching all those county.com domains owns WebP.O.S.ition.
That people search "Location".com isn't hard to accept. Los Angeles County, population 10 million, is one of the largest counties in the U.S. The Overture numbers - a few hundred searches for LosAngelesCounty.com for the month - are rather modest, but I think they are likely more accurate than your software's "0".
Not to miss the forest for the twig, I'd be more than happy to own LosAngelesCounty.com, wouldn't you? Let's see.... business listings, real estate, dining. Probably 1 billboard, for 1 month, on the L.A. freeway would create enough mindshare to launch the site forever in the minds of a few million people.
Ya. Local search. Score 1 for David in the battle of the behemoths.
If I do search for "bigcity widgets" with big city being a big city, I get local results for that city. If I do "smallcity widgets" with smallcity being a city adjacent to bigcity, I get no local search results for that city.
True, and there isn't much of anything in regards to 'search' that is worth anything at Google now really. Local search was just another lame G marketing PR effort to try to get attention for a possible public offering, just like GreeedyMail but on a lesser scale. Poorly thought out and poorly implemented. But I am sure 2 or 3 of the usual G cheerleaders will say it is the best thing since sliced bread and it will save the world. :-)
[edited by: ILuvSrchEngines at 6:20 pm (utc) on April 11, 2004]
Don't worry - have you seen the results on local search? People won't use it for long.
I'm starting to think the only good local directories are going to be by those who live locally and know the difference between, for example, a widgets store and a listing with widgets in the title. And again, I'm amazed that many smaller cities near bigger cities have *no* local search results.
Personally, I think a well designed human edited directory can enhance listings. IMHO, The true local directories really don't reduce the quality of search engines. The ones that reduce the quality of search engine results are national business that optimize for mytown widget for every town on the planet, even when they don't have a local presence in the town.
Yahoo, MSN, About and others took pathetic stabs at online communities for towns. Most have failed. There might still be a market for locally owned directories. The traffic just won't come from Google.
Local search is going to be a VERY important part of everyone's marketing focus - Yahoo will be the king of this as they have zip codes / etc in their registration profile (a BIG reason Google wants Gmail is to get registration profiles of its searchers . . .)
Local search is a great opportunity to bring small mom & pop bricks and mortar sites online - in a way that they can actually get some traction / attention in search.
CitySearch has a good model for this - working at the local level picking up pizza places, etc.
I am not sure why so many on this board are always down on local search (almost every thread about it for the past few months is negative!)
Now try the same thing on Google local search. Page upon page of ... just hotels.
I tried some local searches where I sort of knew the answer. It was impressive, I thought: more comprehensive if slightly less on target than, say, the equivalent ODP category. Yahoo kicked me over to citysearch, which gave pretty poor results -- too large an area. I have no clue what database they are using: it certainly contains sites that Yahoo doesn't know about. There's definitely some interesting data mining going on.
So: Here's my challenge again. I'd like to see a search that gives poorer results than some alternative. Can anyone give one? or is all the complaining just the usual "I haven't figured out how to beat their system yet, curse their black hearts and overendowed gray cells!"