Archive for May, 2010

The Nazi Google-Bombing In Google Maps

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Barry Schwartz pointed out on SER a Google Places Help thread about a Jewish business owner who is complaining about receiving “Nazi” keyword traffic via Google Maps. Indeed, if you search for something like “nazi” or “swastika building” in Google Maps in San Diego, this man’s Balloon business is oddly listed in the search results:

Balloon Utopia

Now, you might wonder why people would be searching for those keywords in San Diego in the first place, and there’s actually a reason why, as Barry pointed out. In fact, I feel marginally responsible for this, so I delved into the business owner’s question to try to diagnose what might be happening.

Some years back, among all the reporting and documenting I do about what’s going on in Google Maps, I came across a unique building in San Diego — an old military barracks, as it turns out, which is shaped like a Nazi Swastika:

Swastika Shaped Building, Coronado Base, San Diego

I documented that in my Flickr account, and went along without thinking about it much.

Until it went viral.

At some point, some radio DJs glommed onto the story and also the Anti-Defamation League came across the picture and made the public more widely aware of the offensive shape. Even though the shape could only be seen from flying overhead or via online aerial photos, public outrage was sufficient to persuade the military to agree to renovate the exterior of the building in order to change the shape in birds-eye profile.

So, there’s reason why a lot of people are searching for “nazis” and “swastika buildings” in San Diego. But, to a lay person it may not be clear why a balloon business might come up as relevant to those searches within Google Maps.

After delving into this, I believe there’s an explanation, and a solution (more…)

How Has Groupon Grown So Fast?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Groupon, a portmanteau word which apparently was made from smashing together “group” with “coupon”, is the brandname of a local deals and discounts service which has been growing by huge leaps and bounds. Social Media meets Coupons, if you will. At this week’s DFW SEM meet on “Location, Location, Location – all about local search“, one attendee asked us during the Q&A how has Groupon grown so fast?

I think the answer is pretty straightforward. Groupon has done some brilliant advertising in Facebook. Here’s an example:

Groupon Ads in Facebook

 

Groupon Advertisement

Notice that the ad mentions the city I have associated with my Facebook profile — Dallas. The promise of the offers mentioned are highly compelling — “Half Off Dallas”, and “…up to 90% off each day”. These offers are really attractive and hard to ignore.

But, it’s the second part of Groupon’s one-two punch that really seals the deal for their rapid growth. (more…)

Great DFWSEM Local Search Marketing Evening

Friday, May 21st, 2010
Thank you to DFWSEM & everyone who promoted Wednesday night’s session and attended! Also, thank you for inviting me to speak along with David Mihm and Brian Combs.
David Mihm, Brian Combs and Chris Silver Smith at DFWSEM. May, 2010
David Mihm, Brian Combs & Chris Silver Smith – Speaking at Dallas-Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association’s Local Search Event

The three of us spoke on local search marketing, with out-of-stater David leading off with some basic, solid tactics for ranking in local search. I followed with some observations about Google Maps’ paradigm-shift to PlaceRank and some theories on other ranking signals that Google may be using. Brian rounded out the lineup with some details on leveraging reviews for local search — an influential chunk of what likely is being used under the PlaceRank algorithms.

I was overwhelmed at DFWSEM’s advanced promotion of the event (more…)

New Law Makes Florists Happy, But Has Wider Implications For Yellow Pages & Search Engine Ads

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

A story in the Rochester, Minnesota Post-Bulletin describes a new state law that florists apparently campaigned-for which bans non-local companies from advertising local business services (in “New law removes thorn from side of local florists“). The story reports that this new law prohibits “deceptive” advertising by companies that misrepresent their location by using a false address and “local” phone number, and it would bar “any business from advertising on the Internet or in the Yellow Pages unless they also list a physical address.”

Florists in the Yellow Pages

I’ve heard florists complain about the wire services companies for many years over this very same issue. Companies such as FTD, Teleflora, Proflowers and 1-800-Flowers have long provided florists with broker services — they market themselves through many channels, both local and nationwide.

My family actually used to own a wholesale floristry service in West Texas, so I have some degree of direct understanding of how these florists feel. Many yellow pages companies, both online and print, have allowed these large, influential florist services to advertise with seemingly-local area listings. Consumers grabbing a yellow pages book or searching online for floral shops rarely can discern between the independent local florists and the ads of the brokers. Once the consumer orders flowers from the broker, they end up paying various service charges — the broker subtracts their cut and sends the order on to a local flower shop to fulfill, based upon standardized catalogs of products. Florists have long gnashed their teeth that consumers pay extra for less product, needlessly passing on money to these referral services.

I’ll confess: I’ve been a floristry industry insider, and I’ve ordered flowers both ways. I can tell the difference between good-quality flowers and bad ones, too.

You might think I’d side with the independent florists on this issue, but I don’t think it’s that cut-and-dried. (more…)

Local Search’s Lacuna

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Tyler Bell wrote a very interesting post today, over at O’Reilly Radar: “Why check-ins and like buttons will change the local landscape“. In it, he talks about how a lack of common locality conventions is perhaps the main stumbling block of advancing local search technology, and he points to Gary Gale’s Geo Tower of Babel concept wherein different systems refer to places and placenames in different ways, meaning different things. Essentially, every different local info system out there refers to common places with variations on names and differing geocoordinates, and this lack of accurate specificity across systems causes many problems.

Local Business Profile

Tyler states that “developers are left holding the buck” in this issue, and he cites three top reasons for it. His top three reasons are the most interesting part of the piece, because I think he really describes many of the basic challenges of the local search industry beautifully. His first reason, “Focus on listings data as end rather than means” is described like this:

“Local search as we know it today is the parthenogenous child of the Yellow Pages industry. Many local search sites, and the data vendors they rely on, remain grounded in YP-era thinking, where the value was found in owning the listing data, making them discoverable in alphabetical order, and advertising against these listings. Local search for ages focused on being an electronic version of the Yellow Pages. Few organizations have looked above the horizon and considered carefully what value could be realized if listings were viewed as a means to connect users to businesses, rather than only advertise against their search.”

His other two reasons, “Attempts at distinction with common data” and “Over-fascination with pins on maps” are good, too.

However, I think his ideas on resolving the issues are unrealistic. (more…)

Will Verizon Get The iPhone? A Former Insider’s Prediction

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

So, I’ve been watching the rumors wax and wane over whether Verizon and Apple will ultimately come to a deal allowing Verizon to offer the iPhone to its wireless customers. Today is a great example of how the rumor mill is gnashing back and forth on the question. Engadget just dug up news stories and legal filings which appear to prove that Apple’s original deal with AT&T is exclusive. Greg Sterling cogently rehashes this, wondering if that deal is still valid or not — and sums up stating that if it is, Apple is screwed. However, CrunchGear is reporting on how one of Verizon’s branding/ad agencies (Landor Associates) is working upon an ad campaign for a Verizon iPhone. So, how can anyone hash the truth out of the massive rumor machinery that’s making bucks off of all of us poor schmucks who keep clicking in droves to read the next unsubstantiated claims of a VeriPhone?!?

Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Search Product & User Experience, demos her iPhone at SES Conference.

Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Search Product & User Experience, demos her iPhone at SES Conference.

The whole question being bandied back and forth is much more important to me than the usual tech industry story-du-jour. (more…)

Speaking At Upcoming DFW SEM Meeting

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

I’m looking forward to speaking at the upcoming DFW SEM Association meeting on May 19th, dubbed “Location, Location, Location, all about Local Search” along with David Mihm of GetListed.org and Brian Combs of ionadas.

Dallas - Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association

I’ve met both Brian and David on the search marketing convention circuit, and consider them to be colleagues and great experts on local search engine marketing subjects. I had a chance to look over the topics all three of us will be covering in our panel presentation, (more…)

Local SEO 101: Increase the Odds of a Plus-Box Map

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

You’ve likely seen Plus-Boxes in Google search results. They are little boxes which sometimes appear below a search result listing, and when clicked they expand the listing, allowing more info to be displayed, such as a small map or a stock chart.

Google Plus-Box Treatment, Coit Tower, San Francisco

For many webmasters, the question of whether a Map Plus-Box appears for a page about a location, such as for local businesses, appears to be decided very arbitrarily. Some pages with local addresses on them have the Plus-Box treatment occur, while others do not.

There are a few ways to increase the chances that Google will be able to successfully interpret the location information appearing on a webpage, so that they can pinpoint it on a map. (more…)

Google Indexes More Place Pages… Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

If you recall when Google Maps launched Place Pages last Fall, they had first represented that the pages would not be indexed to appear in Google organic search engine result pages (“SERPs”). Then, due to some “errors”, the pages actually did appear in organic results.

Now, in the last few days, I’m noticing more and more of the one-box listings appearing in organic SERPs. (more…)

AU Yellow Pages Campaign Provokes Incredulity

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Hidden Pizza - Yellow Pages Marketing Campaign

YPA’s Stephanie Hobbs wrote an article for this week’s Locals Only column at Search Engine Land, and in it she used the recent Hidden Pizza marketing campaign for the Australian Yellow Pages as an example of why local businesses need to take a multi-platform approach to modern advertising. However, Ed Kohler, outspoken critic of yellow pages advertising, took exception to the article in both the comments and on his blog, calling it a “rigged study”.

I earlier critiqued the Hidden Pizza yellow pages campaign myself, (more…)