Local Search News Launches

logo-transAlong with Aaron Irizarry, Andrew Shotland, Greg Sterling, Michael Boland, Mike Belasco, and Will Scott I was asked by Steve Espinosa to be a contributor to a new industry blog called Local Search News. I posted my first entry there, just in time for the site’s launch today. So if you’re interested in local search please subscribe to it and be sure to post your comments. Below is an excerpt from my first entry.

… there’s no shortage of predictions and opinions, that’s for sure. But as it pertains user intent, nothing is changing. Consumers still have a need – they’re still searching for local business information. They still use Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. They still go to the IYPs, the city guides, the local directories. But now we’re seeing them turn to different devices and different sites than ever before. Consumers are using their mobile devices to call free 411 services, or use free text messaging services. They’re using their mobile browser, or mobile application. Consumers are starting to find local business information from stranger places too, like Facebook, YouTube, even twitter. How about that! As if this local search thing wasn’t fragmented enough, it seems to be fragmenting even more. Yet the consumer isn’t really looking for anything different, are they?

Videos may be more prevalent, more available, more accessible. But are consumers specifically searching for local business videos? Unlikely. Local business profiles, and the websites they’re on, may be optimized for a mobile device, but the user doesn’t necessarily care about clever bells and whistles. Local search apps may have really fancy user interfaces that take advantage of the wow-factor on say, the iPhone, but the user’s intention is still very much the same. They’re looking for the same information as always and they’re still performing recovery or discovery searches.

read more…

Google Shutting Down Local Business Referrals Program

Back in August of 2007 Google announced their Local Business Referrals Program. A lot of people shook in their boots, others doubted any success. I suspected that it was doomed to fail.

I just don’t see Google coming into this space, sprinkling it’s Google fairy dust on the marketplace and voila – cracking the code. OK, so maybe Google’s isn’t trying to crack the code, but just penetrate the market a bit more than they’re able. Google should want to penetrate this space, of course they should, but doing it themselves? Gimme a break! And this approach is just silly. I kind of get the sense that this is a desperate move by an increasingly clumsy and goofy corporation that will yield very little. Next step for Google? Snatching up local search players.

Success in the local search market will not come from a giant like Google or Yahoo or Microsoft. It will come from the small startups like, well, like CitySquares.

Here’s Matt McGee’s post on the demise of the program, which gives some more detail. Here’s what Google had to say:

On December 31, 2008, we will end the Google Local Business Referrals program, which was one of many Google Labs initiatives that we had developed as part of our ongoing commitment to experimentation and testing new ways to help businesses establish a presence online.

Many relationships have been built as a result of Google Local Business Referrals, and local connections between representatives and businesses have been forged that we hope will continue. However, the program will conclude at the end of the year as part of our effort to ensure that we prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business.

So, what’s next for Google and their local ambitions?

WICN Business Beat Interview

A few months back at the Somerville Local First launch party I met a fella named Steve D’Agostino. We talked briefly about what CitySquares was doing, and he spoke passionately about what he’s doing in Worcester for Worcester Local First. We hit it off pretty quickly, and realized how well aligned our missions are. I later found out that Steve also hosts his own talk radio program. Well, today I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Steve on WICN 90.5 FM‘s Business Beat program. It was a 30 minute interview almost entirely about local businesses, their impact on local economics, and of course CitySquares too.

I’ve uploaded the audio file here but you can also find it up on WICN’s website.

Local 1.0

I believe that this local search thing is quite early, and to keep up with the Jones’ I’ve started to refer to it as Local 1.0. Hear me out here, because I’m diving deep.

Web 1.0 was a passive web, about adoption and about moving to an interconnected digital medium, and Web 2.0 is very much about participation, creation, and transforming that interconnected digital medium into a platform. Just as Web 1.0 was static, passive, and largely about adoption, so is local, today, and as we’ve come to know it.

Resourceful Idiot does a pretty decent job of explaining the iterations of the Internet. He starts by saying:

“You can group each of the ‘Web x.x’ as a different movement when it comes to internet usage. Web 1.0 is the movement that took place during the beginning of the internet.”

Web 1.0 was about adoption, and about the movement of media, business, and commerce, to the digital medium that is the World Wide Web. Everyone was moving online to reach a larger audience and achieve better efficiencies. The first to move was big media like newspapers, news stations, music, magazines, etc. Everyday services and resources went online, like the post office, libraries, phone books, the dictionary, the encyclopedia, public transportation services, travel agencies, shipping services, mortgage companies, banks, day trading. Consumer services, business services, B2C, B2B, all of them were moving their data and content to the web. All of this content was mostly static, and that was fine. Continue reading Local 1.0

Poking Fun at Print Media

At CitySquares we had an idea to put a Flash video together that properly conveys our feelings on traditional print media like phone directories and the newspaper. We couldn’t think of a better way to demonstrate our feelings than by killing a fly with a rolled up newspaper (which begs the question, where did the paper come from?) and by phone books stacked up outside apartment buidings. Of course this video also had to be a shameless self promotion for CitySquares! Well, yeah! That’s the point… 🙂

So without further ado, here is the final product:

You can find the original Flash version of the movie here on CitySquares.com. We also threw it up on YouTube and the CitySquares Facebook page.

What do you think?