View Full Version : Google Local: Finally Up To Yahoo Speed
03-17-2004, 02:38 PM
Google graduated their local search to beta today with the launch of Google Local (http://local.google.com/lochp). Google crosschecks their index with the Yellow Pages to deliver local stores and services.
If you want to add your business listing to the Yellow Pages you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One interesting personalization touch here - you can save your locations so that you don't have to type in your zip code every time you search locally.
Marissa Mayer, in an interview with SearchDay, touts their integration of web results and phonebook-style listings: "you can not only see the businesses but also what everyone else is saying about the business."
"To my knowledge," she told SearchDay, "this doesn't exist anywhere else on the web."
Last week I wrote that Yahoo's ahead in the local search race (http://www.webpronews.com/insiderreports/searchinsider/wpn-49-20040310YahooAheadInLocalSearchRace.html) because of their SmartView launch. They were already ahead before SmartView though. At that time Google relegated local search to their laboratory and even had some Yahoo Maps results showing up for certain search terms.
It's pretty clear to me that Google's taken the lead in local now - especially considering the level to which they've integrated their local search into their main search page.
If I search for "Pizza 40204" Yahoo doesn't know to give me their local listings. I have to type "Pizza Louisville, KY 40204"
Not that Google's got it all figured out - "Pizza 40204" brings up 3 listings from Wicks (awesome pizza if you're ever in Louisville) on the main results page. There are three different phone numbers listed though, which is probably what's throwing Google off there.
For all you blackhat local SEOs out there (a burgeoning field I'm sure), go ahead and purchase multiple phone numbers for a business and you'll dominate the top local listings for the next week and a half ;)
And here's a little more beef for Google - when I click through to see all the local listings on that "Pizza 40204" search the 4th spot belongs to La Bamba Mexican Restaurant. A fine establishment (burritos as big as your head!) but not quite pizza.
But what really differentiates Google from Yahoo now? Because Yahoo (http://search.yahoo.com/) already offered local results from their Yellow Pages listings. The only difference I can see lies on the results for individual establishments.
When I click on one of Wick's local listings in Google I go to a page with a map and some results the Google algo thinks I should see (most of which appeared to be phone numbers and addresses). This improves convenience, but what Google has mostly done here is gotten up to speed with Yahoo local.
What this means for those of you with brick and mortar businesses is that you need coverage in your local online press, as well as reviews on other local-related sites so that when people search for your company they can have more help in evaluating your services.
After running a few comparasion searches for an area I am very familiar with, I rate Googles local searh the hands down winner.
For instance if I search motels 94118 I get a list of motels in the immediate vicinity ranked by distance, whereas with Yahoo, I get a listing of hotels and motels all over the city and many of those closest to the zip specifed are not listed at all.
Similarly with the search term restaurants 94118 in Google local search I get every one of the restaurants that I know of within a mile radius again ranked by distance from the location, whereas with Yahoo yellow pages I get first of all a list of restaurant types and then when I choose say the italian category Yahoo gives me listings all over the city, but does not list the Bella Restaurant Trattoria a couple of blocks away and a favorite of mine. Google does list Bella Restaurant Trattoria and shows it as being .2 miles away.
Google IMO has set the standard in local search.
03-18-2004, 01:15 PM
All I know is I just tried it. Not only was the local pizza place missing, they put down one that doesn't exist! I know there are a lot of pizzarias in Brooklyn, but come on -- this is just odd.
So if I want to find the nearest pizza place, I have to go to Yahoo.
Oh, and when it came to mapping my house to the nonexistant pizza place, it said my street didn't exist.
Buggy, buggy, buggy.
03-18-2004, 04:17 PM
If this is meant as a seperate engine then it is great, but if it intends to replace the current search engine then it is just becoming a glorified local Yellow Pages and it should be trashed.
03-18-2004, 05:42 PM
I love Google's new local search feature, but does anyone know what drives the results -- like which Yellow Pages Google uses? Does anyone know what makes one page rank better than another?
03-18-2004, 06:48 PM
Love Google, but Yahoo still has them beat on local, imho.
yp.yahoo.com knows my complete address from my registration and shows the results from closest to my actual location (not just zip code). It also remembers my last used addresses, which is great for travelling (especially when you tend to use the same hotels). A quick couple of clicks, and I'm getting map results, yellow page results, etc for the hotel I'm in. A couple more clicks, and I'm back "home."
A step in the right direction, but Yahoo still the definitive winner for me in the yellow pages/local listings/maps arena.
But... I still use Google for all my internet searches.
03-18-2004, 08:30 PM
I like the concept. I hope to see a better cross reference of the local yellow pages with other local directory resources (online).
From what I can tell, if you are a business without a printed "yellow page" lisitng in the local phone book, you are not going to be found via local.google.com.
I'm indexed in google, but didn't pull up under the local search b/c it looks as though it checks printed yellow pgs sources- not sure yet though. I submitted my business info using <email@example.com> and will wait and see.
When I can learn how well it searches non brick and morter resources, I'll decide if there is a value in the service to someone hoping for an all inclusive search result of their local area.
03-19-2004, 11:15 AM
On Google.com's local search I did a search for myself, using my zip code "98665" and the keywords I'm ranked No. 1 for in Google, "eft weight loss," and I came up missing! Nada. Ziltch. Go away, nobody is home. I wasn't impressed.
Yahoo.com's local search listed me on a search for my zip code and the phrase "weight loss" so at least I know there you don't have to be in the yellow pages to be listed in their local search - big plus.
I hope neither has the intention to list only commerical businesses willing to pay ridiculous fees to run ads in the yellow pages because I'm not in that group and never will be. Those ads are overpriced and not at all worth it, especially not with the Internet. I haven't needed the yellow pages for over six years.
Local Search Done Right
I like the idea proposed by smaller, newer search engines, such as www.Vivante.com. Here for a small fee I was able to secure a top spot in searches for not only my keywords, but also my zip code, city, etc. It's local search on a local level, and yes, people aren't yet aware of that engine, but they originally had to be pointed to Google.com as well, didn't they? Remember, once Yahoo.com was the big shot, then along came little start-up Google.com. Funny how things work out.
Check out www.Vivante.com for how local search is being done right.
Once the local search is ironed out, it will be where most people will look first I'd suspect. Such as when you move to a new town. How great to be able to just do a search for book stores in my new area? Or restaurants, or gas stations or car washes, or ...
03-19-2004, 03:22 PM
"For the past five years-long before local search became the latest battleground for revenue-hungry paid search services--we've been in the business of fine tuning our local search to be the most accurate and cost effective tool for connecting businesses to consumers in their own hometown...for free!"
03-19-2004, 03:40 PM
Okay, I checked to see what you have there, and did a search on several categories, first with my state, Washington, and my zip code, then without my zip code, just the state. Searched for Dentists, found zero, searched for many other categories, all gave zero results?
You may have some coverage in specific geographical areas but zero results in my state. Maybe it's because you require a monthly fee for a listing? A lot of search business will "salt" their database at first, so that type of result (zero) doesn't occur. People aren't going to return to a search that gives them nothing for their efforts, right?
I figured I'd try an easy search, so tried Pools, in California, still got zero ;-( Can you suggest some terms and states that would give a better result so I don't look like a jerk for checking it out, or am I doing something wrong here?
03-21-2004, 01:39 PM
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03-21-2004, 03:19 PM
This is a discussion about local search, not a marketing opportunity. Do you have anything to add about local search in general - or why your service is better than what Google and Yahoo are attempting to do?
03-21-2004, 07:42 PM
Google's new local search is good, but it's not as locally complete and relevant as a traditional IYP, it needs work. IYP's may continue to have some data and heading/catagory "issues" (especially Yahoo and Superpages) but the ability to search by "heading" and "city/state" is a more user friendly experience. Does anyone actualy know the zip code of any city outside of their own? As far as results go, Google's web based information is far from complete...which is usually IYP's selling point.
03-22-2004, 11:52 AM
That was my thinking too - I don't know any zip codes outside my own - certainly not some over in SE Portland, for instance, but maybe I'm going over there and want to know where I can find a good used bookstore?
Once they get the bugs ironed out, local search will be awesome - far more relevant for most things, yet I still like the idea of being able to find goods and services from sellers the world over, so there will likely be a place for both types of search for many years to come.