YellowPages.com is still the leading point of entree for most citizens
looking for a neighborhood bakery, bike shop, or nail salon. Working hard to
attract attention are the biggest online companies with Yahoo.local, Bing.local,
Apple Apps, and of course Google all offering unique solutions. As the really big
fish fight for position, the smaller fries still have a shot for dominance. Yelp,
CitySearch, MerchantCircle, HotFrog, and SuperPages are niching themselves smartly
and hoping for a shot at the next tier. Meanwhile Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and
others are being touted as the next best way we will begin our shopping day.
After 4 months of changes to the product on an almost weekly basis, Places seems poised to make a move to become the killer app.
First, there’s the real estate. If I were a government lawyer, I think I could make
a case for unfair competition when it comes to the search engine with 80% of search
putting its own local search engine (LSE) in color at the top of the page for
searches that include local businesses. But with no such effort coming from
justice, the other players have no answer to the location, location, location issue.
If Superpages or Yelp can sometimes manage to find themselves first in the organic,
this doesn’t come close to the power of the single out or seven-pack Places
If this isn’t patently obvious, just ask a plumber, locksmith, or carpet cleaner
what they want for Christmas. The answer is clearly a #1 position on Places. When
emergency services companies get that coveted location, their phone rings. #1 in
the organic is lovely, but not even close.
Second, there is the relevancy of the results. Sorry to all the rest of the LSE’s.
Your relevancy is third rate in comparison to Places. Do the lookups yourself. Try
Italian Restaurant Miami or any other local search on YellowPages or Yelp. You are
as likely to find a chiropractor who mentions italian cooking in his description
showing up in the top ten as your are to get Luigi’s. Are there odd results in
Google Places. Most assuredly yes, but the results are far superior to any of the
Third is the quality of the reviews. Google is 100% hands off, and the result is
much more like Amazon. You, the consumer, get to figure out who is spamming, gaming
the system, or giving real reviews. Yelp is the worst in this part of the business,
with their bizarre conclusions regarding who is a reviewer worthy of posting
reviews, and who isn’t. Now that Google is pulling reviews from other LSE’s, the
potential for tons of good info is growing rapidly.
The recent changes instituted by Google Places are generally going to improve the
listings for the businesses and improve the experience of the searcher. All this
bodes well for the future of Places.
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