Search Engine Marketers Weigh In On Local Search Ranking Variables

SEO practitioner David Mihm conducted a survey of local search marketing professionals about which variables they believe most heavily influence local rankings and results. It's a great resource for those interested in local SEO and related issues. Rather than a simple list, it's an open discussion of the criteria and considerations that appear to boost or harm local rankings. As Mihm describes the project: I invited 20 experts active in the Local Search Marketing community to participate in this study, with the goal of identifying the factors that would be most helpful for ranking well in [...]

Yahoo Displaying Geo Criteria Of Search Ads

The BrandVerity Blog noticed that Yahoo started displaying the business's location under the search ads. For example, a search on lawyers in Yahoo returns several ads that display New York under them. Why New York? Because I am based in New York. If you are located in California, you might see California labeled under the ads. Here is a screen capture: Google has been doing this at least since July 2004, and Google has even experimented with showing the exact address underneath the search ad. I have an email in with Yahoo to find out if this is a new feature. Danny Sullivan, Greg Ste [...]

Yahoo Paper: Finding The Local “Center” Of Search Queries

A new research paper from Yahoo and Cornell University -- with search legend Jon Kleinberg as one of the coauthors -- provides a fascinating look at how a search query such as "red sox" or "hurricane deal" can be centered around a physical location -- including one that changes over time. The paper -- Spatial Variation in Search Engine Queries -- made use of Yahoo query logs to see if queries could be tracked back to particular areas. Each person doing a query has an internet IP address. Those IP addresses (with some filtering done to deal with people using the same [...]

Yahoo Search Circle Allows Users To Easily Expand & Narrow Results On Map

Yahoo just announced that it has added a nifty tool to Local (called "search circle") that allows uses to alter the geographic scope of results by expanding or narrowing a circle on the map. The circle can also be dragged to a particular area easily, allowing for more efficient neighborhood search (screenshots below and on the Yahoo Local & Maps Blog). Here's an example search for "Restaurants, San Francisco": The circle can then be easily narrowed or shifted, bringing up a different set of results by location: Ask City has had a similar tool for some time, allowing users to draw [...]

Yahoo Adds Much More Imagery To Maps

Yahoo has largely opted out of the mapping arms race between Microsoft and Google that has seen both invest millions in their mapping platforms. While it was the early pioneer of dynamic mapping and use of maps as a local search tool, the company decided to focus on more "practical" tools and functionality rather than features such as street-level photography or 3D modeling. However, it has continued to do interesting things with maps in a more incremental fashion. But today the Yahoo Local & Maps Blog has details on a big new infusion of aerial and satellite imagery for the US market. Yahoo [...]

A New Scourge For Yahoo: Affiliate Mapspam

I've been writing about Mapspam appearing in both Google and Yahoo search results for some time now. Mapspam is where black hat SEOs spam local search and map listings, and like all black hat techniques, it seems to get more sophisticated as the search engines find ways to combat the spammers' techniques. There's a new species of mapspam that's particularly obnoxious: affiliate mapspam, first reported at the eClick Performance Blog. With the search engines' new open policies allowing even non-owners of businesses to edit local business listings, unscrupulous affiliates take advantage of a loo [...]

Yahoo Maps Adds More Data, Other Improvements

Yahoo Maps has announced a range of improvements. These include expanded global coverage, including better data and coverage of Eastern Europe; and, in the US, more "granular" neighborhood data for 300 cities and 12,000 neighborhoods. Functionality has been improved as well. Tiles are "lighter" for faster load times, colors and styles have been adjusted, and there are several other visual improvements. Yahoo virtually invented dynamic mapping, but in the past year or so it has ceded much of the innovation to Google and Microsoft, which have both poured millions into advanced mapping features [...]

A Local Look At Microsoft’s Bid For Yahoo

Last Friday, shortly after the Microsoft bid for Yahoo was made public, Danny and I had an opportunity to discuss the proposed acquisition with Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of strategic partnerships for Microsoft. Our questions to Mehdi often returned to post-acquisition "integration" issues. I brought up local, maps, and mobile as areas where both companies had made significant investments but also had significant duplication and redundancy. Mehdi responded, "We have not made decisions at that level, such as what to do with maps or mobile products. Every alternative is on the table. We [...]

Google Maps Gaining On Market Leader Mapquest

Mapquest arguably "owns" the mapping brand online. It has been the dominant mapping site for years by a wide margin. But that dominance may now be slipping under pressure from Google. Hitwise reports that "traffic to Mapquest has remained flat year on year and is down 20% in the past 6 months. Google Maps traffic is up 135% year on year and is up 7% in the past 6 months." According to Hitwise, after Mapquest, Google is the number two mapping site, followed by Yahoo and then Microsoft's Live Local. Hitwise's Heather Hopkins argues that the traffic trend is based almost exclusively on Goog [...]

Yahoo Maps Adds Drag And Drop Routing

Yahoo Maps added drag and drop customizable routing, among several other improvements to the site. There's more discussion and explanation on the Yahoo Local & Maps blog. Google has a similar feature. Below are some screenshots of the new capability on Yahoo. Additional feature upgrades on Yahoo Maps include photos and reviews in Ajax pop-ups that appear when you mouse over individual business pushpins on the map. Yahoo directions from San Francisco to Yahoo HQ in Sunnyvale, CA: And now the customized route, where you've dragged the original route off the 101 freeway and over to the 880: [...]

Yahoo Local (Re)introduces Search Refinement, RSS

When Yahoo Local redesigned in August of this year, it largely eliminated the left column of detailed filters and refinement capabilities that were one of its best features, in my view. The statement from then Yahoo Local GM Jennifer Dulski (now CEO of Fatdoor) was that people weren't really using them. What Yahoo did was largely to bury a scaled-down version of its set of filters in a search-assist like drop down menu. Now the company has reintroduced more detailed filters in the form of a "narrow your search" horizontal menu that appears below sponsored results. That's just one of several n [...]

Yahoo Testing “Neighbors” Organizing Tool For Local

Yahoo has always been an innovator in local, and today the company is rolling out (only in two California markets) a new feature that allows community members to identify, discuss, and potentially organize around local issues of concern. Called "Neighbors," it combines functionality found on Yahoo's suggestion boards and in Yahoo Answers. It came out of Yahoo Hack Day, and the company has decided to introduce it on a limited basis to test community reaction. It's a completely non-commercial offering and is intended to allow people to make suggestions for how to improve local communities, vot [...]

Andy Baio To Leave Yahoo/Upcoming

Andy Baio has posted on his blog that he is leaving Yahoo and Upcoming, the social events site he started in roughly 2003. The co-founder of Upcoming says many friendly and favorable things about Yahoo and says that he's taking some time off and next year will be "focusing exclusively on and related coding projects." Yahoo acquired Upcoming in 2005 for an undisclosed sum and has subsequently integrated it into Yahoo Local (see events). Jennifer Dulski, who took over Yahoo Local from Paul Levine when he went to AdBrite, is also leaving Yahoo to run an undisclosed startup. [...]

Meet The Local Search Engines

A report from today's opening panel at SMX Local & Mobile, Denver, Colorado. Huge market, huge confusion, huge challenges—that could summarize discussion on the Meet the Local Search Engines panel, consisting of some of the major players in local search—including major search engines' local search properties, an exclusively local search engine, the largest Internet Yellow Pages (IYP), and a search marketer in the local space. Session moderator, Greg Sterling, Founding Principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, started off the dialogue with his one word summary on why lo [...]

Yahoo Local Now Features “User Denigrated Content”

After exploring Yahoo's Mapspam, I started investigating Yahoo's end user local reporting features more fully. I may have underestimated Yahoo's features to deal with spam (and to abet it). The new Yahoo Local is making a strong attempt at encouraging user input and content about local businesses with reviews, soliciting and actually reading end user suggestions for improvements and even allowing users to add business level details to specific records. This article is part of Local Search Week here at Search Engine Land, a special look at local search marketing issues in the run-up to our S [...]

Mapspam Now Appearing On Yahoo Local

If spam isn't an indication of the arrival of an advertising medium (e.g. email spam, search spam) I don't know what is. Mike Blumenthal, who identified instances of Google mapspam has now investigated non-local businesses trying to fool the local algorithms on Yahoo into thinking they are local. Blumenthal cites detailed examples of gaming with fake addresses, phone numbers and, in some cases, fake reviews to boost rankings, which give these businesses prominence not only in Yahoo Local but also in general Yahoo search results. [...]

Send To (German) Car: The New Local Search Front

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at one point that one of the reasons Google wanted to get into radio advertising was that the company couldn't reach users during the morning or afternoon commutes. That's all changing very quickly. Both Google and Yahoo have almost simultaneously announced in-car mapping and local search functionality. As an extension of its earlier "Send to Car" Maps partnership with BMW, Google has introduced in-car local search for BMWs in Germany. Here's a video that partly illustrates the functionality. Google has also expanded the Send to Car Maps functionality to Italy [...]

Flash Earth Puts Google Earth, Virtual Earth & Others On Web

FlashEarth Mashup with Google Earth 4.2 from the Google Earth Blog reports on a site named Flash Earth that provides mapping services from several providers in a desktop like experience, using Flash technologies. Flash Earth gives you mapping data from Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, Yahoo Maps, OpenLayers and NASA Terra. The Flash map lets you select one of those maps and then you can click or drag the map to the location you want. You can also use arrow keys or the compass control to move the map to your desired location. You can rotate the map by turning your compass wheel with [...]

Yahoo Local Gets A Sophisticated Makeover

Yahoo is arguably the leader in local search, but others including Google, Microsoft and Yelp have been rapidly gaining. The search engine's venerable Local site was in need of a refresh, which it has now received. With a redesign partly inspired by the Yahoo OurCity sites in India, the new Yahoo Local features a bolder graphical look that pushes community content even more front and center. Maps are still featured, but not as a central metaphor or visual element and much more in a functional way. There’s also better and broader integration of other Yahoo content and properties into Loca [...]

Yahoo Local GM To Leave, Group Now Broader

Paul Levine, GM of Yahoo Local, is leaving (his decision) after almost five years and being replaced by Jennifer Dulski, who is now going to be Group Vice President & General Manager, Marketplace. Her title reflects a strategy shift and will combine Local with Shopping, Travel, Autos and Real Estate and represents a more integrated local-vertical approach. Dulski has a long history at Yahoo! in various roles. Prior to her current role, Dulski was the VP/GM of the Autos business. According to Yahoo, Dulski "was a key member of the tiger team that re-launched Yahoo! Search and she led the cons [...]

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