Natural Search Blog


Check Out New Google Maps Labs Features

Many Google Maps users may have missed the recently added button, allowing users to opt-in to try out some of the Google Maps Labs beta features. The Labs options can be accessed via the new little icon button found in the upper right of the user-interface, if you’re logged-in to your Google account:

Google Maps Labs Icon Button

The new features might also reveal some secrets of Google Maps ranking factors. It’s definitely a space that’s well worth watching for local search marketing experts.

Local Store Inventories Might Help Yellow Pages SEO

In an article posted on Search Engine Land this morning, I outline how Google Maps are increasingly appearing for keyword searches, reducing referral traffic to internet yellow pages. In a brief companion piece, I also mention how embattled yellow pages should step-up their SEO game. If Google Trends is truly indicative of a sea-change that is hitting online yellow pages sites, then they must do something about it:

Top IYPs & Business Directory Sites
Natural Search Performance of Top Yellow Pages Sites in Google

(Click to enlarge) (more…)

Microformats Hit Mainstream!

Microformats LogoOver on SEMClubhouse I’ve written up a post on “Why Use Microformats?” which is a mild criticism of Michael Gray’s recent post on “HCards, Microformats and Address Data does it Matter for SEO“. Essentially, Michael suggests people should prioritize implementation of hCard into local info webpages as a lower-priority, back-burner project. I not only believe that Yahoo’s SearchMonkey developer platform and Google’s new Rich Snippets display are proving that the search engines consider the Microformats protocol to be important, but anything presented as a back-burner or rainy-day project for many major corporations pretty much relegates that work to never be done at all.

With the advent of Rich Snippets in SERPs, I think I can safely declare that Microformats have now hit mainstream! (more…)

Local Search & Social Media Company Praized Worth Watching

Praized LogoPraized, a startup that offers a social media app targeted to locally-oriented blogs and sites, is well worth watching. The app allows blogs to easily provide their constituents the ability to rate local businesses, and display the ratings alongside the traditional directory info of biz name, address, and maps.

Praized business listing for Pastis
(click to enlarge)

(Try out their local search engine to view businesses and ratings.)

Praized was built by some local search veterans from the Yellow Pages Group, and it’s already managed to nab small dribbles of acclaim — most recently, it was named a finalist in Red Herring’s Canada’s Top 50 Canada award which recognized the year’s most promising private technology ventures in Canada. (more…)

Decider Enters Local Search

Decider logoHumorous faux-newspaper, The Onion, has launched a new local directory site called Decider in beta. While The Onion is famous for its satirical “news” articles, Decider is a decidedly serious guide intended to complement their other offerings like serious classifieds and the A.V. Club (The Onion’s arts and entertainment site).

Decider brings local business listings for bars, restaurants, music venues, events, and reviews. It appears to be targeted to the college-to-early-thirties demographic, and sports advertisements on the pages.

When I heard about Decider, I immediately though, “oh, yet another business directory site among the many others,” — a thought apparently shared to some degree by Andrew Shotland. (more…)

SMX LoMo Keynote: Gur Kimchi

Gur Kimchi, Principle Architect for Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, also spoke Thursday morning at the SMX Local & Mobile conference in San Francisco.

Gur Kimchi, Principal Architect, Microsoft Virtual Earth
Gur Kimchi, Principal Architect, Microsoft Virtual Earth

Gur provided a lot of demonstrations of existing and upcoming features from the Virtual Earth teams: (more…)

SMX LoMo Keynote: Frazier Miller

Frazier Miller, General Manager of Yahoo! Local, spoke yesterday here at the SMX Local & Mobile conference in San Francisco.

Frazier Miller, Yahoo! Local's General Managers
Yahoo! Local’s Frazier Miller

It was very interesting to hear the take on local & mobile from one of Yahoo! Local’s top thought leaders. It was obvious that Frazier has a very tight grip on understanding what motivates consumers and where the trends may be headed in local/mobile evolution.

Some highlights of Frazier’s presentation included: (more…)

Yellow Pages Guerilla Ad Campaign

I was speaking at the Search Engine Strategies (“SES”) Conference in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and was impressed by the YellowPages.ca booth in the exhibit hall:

YellowPages.ca booth at SES Toronto Conference

YellowPages.ca Search GraphI’ve seen other, equally-large booths for online yellow pages companies, but this one seemed particularly attention-getting and inviting. The glowing yellow desk and the simple design made the thing very friendly-looking, and the geek in me was drawn to the near-real-time search volume graph they had playing up on one screen. (more…)

Local Search Behemoth InfoSpace Cashed Out

Last year when InfoSpace decided to sell off Switchboard, other directories, and their mobile services, I wondered if they were just cashing out. Yesterday’s New York Times article, “Once an Internet Giant, InfoSpace Dismantles Itself“, would appear to verify that they did indeed cash out.

Infospace (more…)

Can NearbyNow Escape The Fate of Local Shopping Search Engines?

NearbyNowGreg Sterling points out that a number of companies are attempting to build out inventories of local brick-and-mortar stores and expose this info via search capabilities. Greg notes that NearbyNow has just raised $11.75 million in additional funding, and that there are compelling reasons to believe that local product shopping search satisfies a lot of user needs and conforms to existing shopping behavior. Greg states:

Every shopping engine that doesn’t have this local store data will suffer at the hands of those that do. The significance of this and its potential impact on online shopping (and by extension mobile) cannot be overstated.

My initial gut reaction to NearbyNow is along the lines of: “I’ve seen this during the era of dot-bombs, and it didn’t work — why should it work now?” (more…)

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