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  • In Search of Local

    Posted Aug 19th, 2011 By in Search With | No Comments

    Any maiden voyage is bound to be fettered with a degree of uncertainty.  How long will the journey take, what will be found upon reaching the destination and will it meet with expectations? All valid questions even for a digital voyage each time a word is typed into the illustrious search bar.

    The uncertainty is especially daunting with searches performed for local business information. With more than 10.3 billion searches per month on Google alone, 20% are said to have local intent  – that’s a whopping 2.6 billion searches each and every month for businesses that are essentially in one’s own backyard! Yet the journey to Yet the journey to discover accurate and complete information about a location that’s down the street, remains as elusive as the search for the new world.

    So why is it that local business listing information isn’t always accurate, complete or even present within the new and improved local search results?  Don’t Google, Bing and Yahoo just get their information from telephone company business records like the yellow pages? In a word (or two), not exactly.

    Search engines gather their listing information from a variety of sources making it challenging for a business to identify and update a single source of the data, even more challenging for national chains with hundreds or thousands of outlets. Among the better known sources of listing data include InfoUSA, Localeze, Acxiom and Dun & Bradstreet.

    Web Equity

    To add to the fun, Google created its Local Business Center, now known as Google Places – a portal for local proprietors to verify business listing information by ‘claiming’ it directly with Google.  As Google promoted it was ‘making Google more local’, shop owners, dry cleaners and pizza joints would be able to verify their listings directly and enhance information about their businesses including store hours, service areas, photos and even videos.  So each went scrambling to stake their claim, snap store  pictures, shoot video and build out their Places pages for their brick and mortar locations…only to have the local landscape change by Google (yet again). And what about those national chains? Google has yet to offer a solution for claiming and verification en masse despite accepting a bulk upload at the portal.

    Whether Google’s recent removal of citations is a temporary bug or the cataclysmic shift in the local paradigm some speculate it to be, time will tell. But instead of playing the waiting game, SMBs and corporations with hundreds or even thousands of brick and mortar locations are still best served by claiming their businesses where claiming is possible and distributing data to the search engines, portals, directories and sites accepting the information.

    And despite a local feed system so intertwined it rivals the Los Angeles Freeway system, channels do exist to actively distribute local listing business information for inclusion to the many search engines and directories which accept local feeds. Don’t expect 100% saturation with syndication but do expect over time to begin to see location information popping up across the internet.


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