Why No Good Local Biz Content? (Part II)

Marty Himmelstein’s previous post “Why We Don’t Have Good Local Business Content?” sparked considerable discussion and debate. I’m letting Marty respond to the comments (in two separate posts).

The first about the role of SEO in local search is below. The second one, according to Marty, “will address some of the questions on the role of the community in local search and gathering content directly from businesses.”

I have not edited the text.

_____

Several weeks ago I wrote a guest post, “Why We Don’t Have Good Business Content.” The post elicited a number of thoughtful responses, for which I am grateful. Instead of replying with additional comments, Greg was gracious enough to give me the floor again for a couple of  follow-up posts. This one covers the role of search engine optimization in local search.

I remarked that when local search is working as it should, the role of SEO will be diminished. Andrew Shotland responded to my statement that in local search “being found trumps search engine optimization” with a pithy comment to the effect that being found requires SEO. I agree with Andrew with the understanding that he is describing the current situation, and my intent was to describe why the current situation is broken. Andrew’s observation will continue to be true until we have an accurate layer of content about local businesses, and, more generally, local places.

Web search and local search start from two very different places. In web search, we have essentially infinite content, and the process of evaluating and ordering that content are inseparable. Local search doesn’t deal with infinite content. It doesn’t even deal with a lot of content. The necessary underpinning of local search is not evaluation, but fidelity to physical reality.

With web search there is no purely objective measure of goodness for a particular query. Therefore, search engine designers devise algorithms to approximate the best pages from a sea of content. These algorithms employ subjective measures of worth that involve tradeoffs amongst competing goals.  SEO, when used appropriately, can be seen as a way to help the search algorithms do a better job of ranking pages fairly. Sometimes SEO might be justified on the grounds that the unaided algorithms just get it wrong. On the other hand, when used injudiciously, SEO has the effect of subverting the algorithms, which, while imperfect, are usually pretty good.

Local search is simpler. The criteria for local search are factual and objective and it is therefore possible to get pretty close to unbiased results. Does the place exist where it says it does? Does the place do what it says it does? There aren’t twenty million plumbers  in my local area. (The number of results returned by a Google search for plumbers.) There aren’t even dozens where I live. In most places, the relevant listings can be displayed on a map, on the first page of results.

But in NYC there are well more than a dozen plumbers, and whether one is two-tenths of a mile or two miles away hardly matters. In the strictest sense, then, Miriam Ellis’s  observation that “any list-type listing means competition … even if it’s only alphabetical competition” is true. In a larger sense, however, a comparison between the minimalist ordering sometimes required for local search  and the sophisticated analysis needed to prune 20 million results demonstrates the differences between the two types of search. No matter how clever Google programmers are, they can’t design their algorithms to know who the good plumbers are. Or where the best sushi bars are. In any case, they can’t do as good a job as people can.  In web search, because of the overwhelming amount of content, we need the core search algorithms to do as much as possible. In local search we want the core algorithms to do only as much as necessary. The quality of businesses is of course important, but the way we can discern quality is by associating user-feedback systems (and other third party sources of content) with the core data. In the evolution of the web, we’ve come to understand that sometimes there is no substitute for human computation. Local search is exhibit one.

Assume for a moment we had a reliable and complete stratum of local search data, a database of record for local search.  This stratum would contain, as nearly as possible, a core of factual information for each business. This layer of content would be value-neutral. Its main purpose would be to maintain an accurate model of businesses and places in the real world.  When new places open or close, these facts would be reflected in the database as quickly as possible.

Gathering a layer of factual content might be hard, or it might not, but gathering it is a distinctly different task than making value judgments about it. If this layer existed, review sites would have access to it, and they would be free to enhance and order it in any way they like. Different sites could order it differently, or people could request different orderings. One person might want only handicap accessible stores, or stores with wi-fi, or Goth friendly places, or whatever. In all cases, though, the underlying content is the same.

Another reason the role of SEO should be minimized in local search relates to trust. In local search, if one business is optimized, it is at the expense of another. Such optimization might have no intrinsic relationship to the actual worth of the two businesses. This apparent arbitrariness serves to erode the confidence of the two most important local search constituencies: consumers and small and medium businesses. The best carpenters in my area don’t advertise at all. I still want to be able to find them. Most of the time, when people are looking for a carpenter online they will want a recommendation. But sometimes they won’t: they will want the carpenter they used last year, or the one their neighbor mentioned. And, as I said earlier, when they want an ordering, it will be one supplied by other homeowners, not an algorithm that can be ‘optimized’ by the initiated.

_____

Marty Himmelstein is the principal of Long Hill Consulting, which he founded in 1989. Marty’s interests include databases, Internet search, and web-based information systems.

For the last eleven years, Marty has been active in location-based searching on the web, a field often called Local Search. Marty was an early member of the Vicinity engineering team. Vicinity was a premium provider of Internet Yellow Pages (Vicinity provided Yahoo!s IYP service from 1996-8), business locators, and mapping and geocoding services.

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26 Responses to “Why No Good Local Biz Content? (Part II)”

  1. David Mihm Says:

    Marty, another very interesting piece. I have to say that I disagree with your general conclusion that optimization “might have no intrinsic relationship to the actual worth of the two businesses.”

    This is true for general web search as well, but it IS a necessary “evil” when dealing with search in general. Even in a small town that only has 10 plumbers, how does one order the search results?

    The standard Yellow Pages way of alphabetizing hardly seems fair to Ron Zimmer, and a geo-sensitive filter is useless in this case since plumbers are typically willing to drive tens of miles to go to a client’s house or office.

    If your ideal is to make Local a 1:1 representation of the offline world, then the plumber who does the best job of engaging his community (by getting reviews, links, citations–the equivalent of networking & word-of-mouth) should rank the highest. And that’s what SEO is all about.

  2. Marty Himmelstein Says:

    Hi Dave,

    I agree with your statement that “the plumber who does the best job of engaging his community … should rank the highest.” The problem is that the web has incomplete information on plumbers in my neighborhood, and any ordering derived from that information is of necessity faulty. How can a plumber without a web presence get incoming links? The example I cited of my carpenter not advertising – in the Yellow Pages, forget about online – is true. I have found that the online representation of offline businesses still has a long way to go.

    As you say, my ideal is to make local a 1:1 representation of the offline world. To do that a necessary step is to ensure that every offline business has an online representation. Now, when I look for plumbers in my area I get lots of links to ‘vertical’ sites, and I can’t trust the information in any of them. The signal to noise ratio is far worse than it should be.

    You mention that getting reviews is one way for a business to engage the community. I agree. But doesn’t that argue for taking the job of evaluation away from the core search algorithms and into the hands of vertical sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, ServiceMagic, and others? Wouldn’t all these services be well served if they had a reliable layer of factual content?

    I can imagine a situation where Google incorporates a value-metric into their rankings, derived from review sites. (Hmmm. Perhaps I should patent that idea…) Even so, that wouldn’t change my argument that for local search evaluation should be done by people, not algorithms.

    The only part of your comment with which I find myself in outright disagreement is that geo-sensitive filtering is useless. There has to be some distance beyond which plumbers are unlikely to travel. Usually the density of service, how many suppliers of a service there are in an area, is a good indication of a reasonable search radius. I also doubt that many New Jersey or Brooklyn plumbers travel to Manhattan.

    Marty

  3. David Mihm Says:

    Marty,

    I was saying “a geo-sensitive filter is useless in this case.” We agree that in larger areas with denser service populations (and more businesses to choose from) that this certainly has relevance.

    I could not agree more with this statement: “To do that a necessary step is to ensure that every offline business has an online representation.” That is the driving idea behind Patrick Sexton’s and my launch of GetListed.org–to provide SMB’s with a place where they CAN acquire that representation.

    “But doesn’t that argue for taking the job of evaluation away from the core search algorithms and into the hands of vertical sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, ServiceMagic, and others?”

    Actually, the major LSE’s (Google at least) incorporate these sites as PART of their algos. They combine the business information and reviews they glean from these listings with their general web crawl AND their LBC. The “big idea” behind their algorithms *should* be a successful one, IMHO.

    Search engines, data providers, and to some extent businesses themselves all bear the responsibility of adapting to the Local online economy. The problem, from my perspective, is that basic information about a business is often in conflict across all these sources, and thus far there has been little effort on the part of the first two parties to reach the third.

    Great discussion!

  4. Allen Taylor Says:

    Another aspect of local search that doesn’t get discussed very often (if ever) is the difference between urban/suburban search and rural search. The needs are different for searchers (and for businesses) in Manhattan than they are for searchers and businesses in rural Kansas. That plumber willing to drive 30 miles in Kansas might not be half as willing to drive 10 miles in NYC. Furthermore, if I need a plumber NOW, it could take me longer to get that plumber from 10 miles away to meet me at my townhouse in Manhattan than it would to get the plumber in the next town 30 miles away in rural Kansas to come over.

    Local directories have far less adequate information on rural businesses than they do on businesses in the city. If you think local search is lacking across the board then try moving at least 30 miles out of any urban center with any amount of population. It’s like going back in time 10 or 20 years.

    So the big question is, How to get value-centric search that benefits both consumers and businesses and that also meets the needs of all audiences in urban and rural communities. I suspect there is no perfect way and likely never will be.

  5. David Mihm Says:

    Allen, excellent point. I do think Yahoo does a nice job of addressing this to some extent by letting users enlarge the map, zoom in or out, and set a radius of businesses they’d like to pull from.

    But in general you’re absolutely right that Local in rural areas is sorely lacking.

  6. » Is Local SEO Different Than Global SEO? Search Engine Optimization Journal - SEO and Search Engine Marketing Blog Says:

    [...] good discussion on local search is going on at Screenwerk. It caught my eye when Marty Himmelstein made this statement: I remarked that when local search is [...]

  7. earlpearl Says:

    Another interesting piece on the topic. The article and comments made me think about yipit which is a very local, very focused, better quality directory, at least IMHO. I wonder how they are doing?

    As a business operator this conversation is somewhat theoretical. I want to be as highly visible as possible and I want to be thought of by commentators/raters/customers/word of mouth…as well as possible.

    Its a big job on my part to strive to reach those goals. Its a big job for any web entity to strive to reach those goals. The information never jived preweb and it is difficult to jive in a web environment, though should be at least more universally obtainable and more universally available to all who are interested.

    Marty, I see you worked on the side of providers of this information at one point. I did serious data collection on smb’s at one point. My goal was a sort of preweb version of Yipit….a better source of information with far more effort put into data collection…..with an expected higher return on my investment of time and energy. It worked.

    I suspect that the quality of information is somewhat related to the expected return on the costs of providing the information.

    But yeah…I’d like to see better quality of information..

  8. gibolander Says:

    Really interesting conversation, I agree with most of the concepts presented here. What often gets overlooked is the difficulty in establishing a relevant comprehensive set of location based “facts” in the plumber example, where the plumber is factually located isn’t necessarily relevant to where that plumber does business.

    Even the factual “category” of a business is often convoluted, Laurence Hooper pointed to a great example of a barber shop who sells ham’s and oysters with a photo to prove it. http://blog.loladex.com/2008/02/26/local-is-weird/

    So your sentence which seems so obvious and considered the easy part of local search “Does the place exist where it says it does? Does the place do what it says it does?” I contend is harder to do and keep current than determining what the content on a web page is about for web search. The example Laurence talks about is a fun extreme to point towards. However the outliers that prove the difficulty are numerous.

    The good thing is, I think a group of really smart people (wink) are aggressively attacking this opportunity and getting closer to offering this “ reliable and complete stratum of local search data, a database of record for local search. This stratum would contain, as nearly as possible, a core of factual information for each business.” Adding the complexity of what a business does and where it is to the concept of is it good at what it does in relation to other businesses in the same geospatial constraint is a hard thing to do, it’s what makes Local such a fun problem to try and solve.

  9. Will Scott Says:

    I believe that David is pointing to something critical with the statement that:

    the plumber who does the best job of engaging his community (by getting reviews, links, citations–the equivalent of networking & word-of-mouth) should rank the highest. And that’s what SEO is all about.

    This is what I think is not fully accounted for in this piece. Even when there is a completely comprehensive and accurate local data set there will always be a desire among businesses to outrank their due.

    That’s what SEO is all about.

    If the local ranking factors are open to manipulation by enticement, coercion or just plain cheating then there really isn’t a level playing field. There will be no greater objectivity in local and there will always be a place for SEO.

  10. Andew Shotland Says:

    Hey Marty,

    Sorry I am late to the party. I think you have misinterpreted my comment. I believe you said something like “being found trumps SEO”. My response was not that being found “requires” SEO, although this is often the case. My response was that the definition of SEO is being found (so not sure why being found trumps it). I know all of Greg’s readers were surely up in arms about this issue so I just wanted to make sure I clarified the point.

  11. Marty Himmelstein Says:

    Allen, I live in a relatively rural community and I tend to think of the challenges facing local search from a less urban perspective. I agree that local search has to work for all communities. If you measure the value of local content in relation to what was available before the Internet came along, I think you’d have to say that rural content is the real prize. After all, 15 years ago you could go to a bookstore and buy dining and lodging guides for major metropolitan areas, but not for rural Kansas.

    Urban and rural businesses do have much in common of course. They have customers. They sell products that are supplied by the same manufacturers. They are registered to do business in their state. They advertise with their local newspapers. They belong to their local Chamber of Commerce. They belong to the same trade associations, are represented by their state’s or county’s economic development bureaus. They have access to the Internet. In short, there are more than enough sources of information to create and maintain an accurate representation of even the most rural business. The tools to enable these entities to easily contribute information haven’t been developed yet, but that’s just a matter of time.

  12. MiriamEllis Says:

    Hi Marty,
    I’ve been eagerly awaiting your follow-up piece. I’m really enjoying your writing and ideas.

    I better understand the original point I made, as you’ve addressed it above.

    David’s point regarding engagement reflects my own feelings on this, and I would say that, at this point, if the best plumber in town doesn’t ‘get it’ that the time has come to develop and online presence, it’s hard to think of him as really being the best business man. Sure, he may do great things with a clogged drain, but he’s also got to be a business man as he is running a business. This used to mean getting a YP listing. Now it means local search, and I think we’re getting to the point where he can’t really be the ‘best’ if he isn’t hip to how his customers are trying to find him.

    And, I would suggest, that if he just can’t bring himself to address the business part of his business, this is where the Local SEO provider is ready to jump in as a very necessary part of the ‘business part’ of doing business.

    Greg, thanks for bringing Marty back to post on this topic. It’s a great one.

    Miriam

  13. Stever Says:

    As others mentioned it’s quite theoretical. One part of the problem with getting the “review” type content is most average joe web surfers/business patrons don’t bother to leave a comment or a review on a 3rd party local listing site like Google maps, Yahoo Local, Yelp or others. In many cases customers have to be asked, encouraged, even bribed to do so. Business owners sometimes ASK for testimonials they can use on their own websites. It’s nice when a supper happy customer just ups and writes a testimonial letter or stops for a minute and writes a glowing review on a IYP site, but it’s rare.

    Many people using the IYP site to find a business are finding it for the first time, they have zero reason to leave a review as of yet. Once they have dealt with the business, now know how to contact them, why would they go back to that IYP website and then write a review. I use IYP term as an “all the above” local review site.

    It also comes down to numbers. Traffic. In larger metro areas and for high traffic local businesses, the ones that hit the top 10 lists for interest in print and online yellow pages, like restaurants, hotels, etc., you are getting enough traffic on a regular basis that some will stop and write a little review. Again most won’t but it quickly becomes enough to be noticeable and the social validation aspect of it means more may in turn stop and give a review. But step into a smaller city and/or a business which much lower traffic levels and there are oodles of businesses that have had a well ranked and claimed listing in Google Maps local 10 packs for a few years now and have yet to receive a single customer review. Most people prefer organic results over maps results anyways, when the organic results are showing stand alone websites for local businesses and not simply directory pages or verticals.

    SEO then becomes a process to not only improve rankings but try to encourage online reviews. Organic SEO not only boosts rankings but in getting more customers you increase the pool of who can give reviews.

    Like Miraim just said, it becomes a very necessary business part of the business. It’s marketing like any other. The business owners that get that and employ a professional SEO to help them with that part of the business are simply doing better business.

    The best carpenter in town, or the best painter can rely 100% on referrals and stay busy. I know, I used to be the best interior painter in town :) But some of them don’t want to be found online, open to just about anyone. Being the best means you get to choose your customers. Referrals have a built in mechanism for qualifying customers. A top search result does not, though website content can help with that.

    I might be going off track a bit there but it is an interesting conversation. Out in the real word small local business shape perceptions through radio, tv and newspaper advertising. Trying to shape it online is no different.

    Oh, and before I hit Submit. I’m a huge proponent of small local businesses having their own website, and having it be their PRIMARY online presence, not the directories, verticals, review sites, Maps whatever. Blogging, on their site, has a much bigger potential in creating and shaping the online conversation and generating quality content far beyond what review sites could. Though most don’t do it that well, yet.

  14. Perry Says:

    Marty, I really enjoyed your perspective – In particular, think you capture the essence of why web search is struggling with relevance models for local content, and why user-based content forms the most practical proxy for link logic in Local.

    I would add that, IMHO, the task of Local Search, particularly for service based businesses, is to winnow down to a short list. I believe it is fundamentally impractical to collect sufficient decision-making content to go from a short-list to a definitive selection. To me, this is where a new generation of conversational and contextual technologies kick in. The consumer wil invariably – as you point out – do their ultimate selection on a range of personal factors. Scheduling convenience and negotiated pricing may be capable of being automated, but not by “the masses” for a very long time. Consumers may also be aided by video tools, in assessing whether they want a specific service person into their house, but again, this is an exception not the rule.

    The final mile of Local Search, where a short list converts into a selection/transaction remains one of the most interesting unsolved problems.

    Finally, I’d add that one other dimension of local search – wherein consumers purchase patterns are driven by special offers – is another fascinating unsolved piece of the puzzle. As you’ve noted, Google’s current lame foray into coupon aggregation and display is not even close to addressing the opportunity.

    Great writing/thinking, keep it up.

  15. Mike Blumenthal Says:

    Actually, the major LSE’s (Google at least) incorporate these sites as PART of their algos. They combine the business information and reviews they glean from these listings with their general web crawl AND their LBC. The “big idea” behind their algorithms *should* be a successful one, IMHO.

    This would be true IF Google’s goal was accuracy (truth about the business) as opposed to relevancy. I fear that they are so steeped in the idea of relevancy that the need for the factual content layer seems to often escape them.

    Mike

  16. Marty Himmelstein Says:

    earlperl, Yipit came to mind for me too. They are a local search site in Manhattan that currently focuses on the furniture vertical. To a large extent, local is an aggregation of verticals. One way to build out the database of record I wrote about is from a vertical orientation. There are lots of reasons for this, but a main one is that soliciting deep and trustworthy content is easier on a vertical basis.

    On your and others’ comments on the the ‘theoretical’ nature of my posts, I’m guilty as charged. You wouldn’t classify my posts as news, and they don’t contain short-term actionable suggestions. On the other hand, local search doesn’t work the way it should or could. To fix it, it is necessary to diagnose the reasons why. The multiple perspectives here, a mix of long term and practical, have made for interesting discussions.

    Gib, I’m not sure I’d say that maintaining currency and accuracy about local places is harder than categorizing web pages, it’s just entirely different. It’s certainly harder if you don’t have the right tools.

    We can probably agree that the consequences of a mistake in local search is higher than in web search. If you go to a poorly categorized web page you can easily leave it. Following dead ends in local search is more frustrating, and can have real costs associated with it. The Yellow Pages used to be the universal tool for getting consumer business information. Local search can be so much better than the YP ever was, yet is some basic ways it is still not as good. I think of local search as the universal application, but to make it so we’ve got to get the fundamental things right.

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  18. MiriamEllis Says:

    “…Oh, and before I hit Submit. I’m a huge proponent of small local businesses having their own website, and having it be their PRIMARY online presence, not the directories, verticals, review sites, Maps whatever.”

    I second that, Stever, if only for the reason that the business owner can have total control of this aspect of their business, whereas business listing are too often fraught with error. Interesting, by the way, to know you used to be the best interior painting in town.

    “…We can probably agree that the consequences of a mistake in local search is higher than in web search. ”

    Marty, yes, that seems to true. And rectifying mistakes in multiple 3rd party data provider sources can be extremely time consuming. A lot of work to load on the shoulders of the busy small business owner.

    This is certainly turning out to be the conversation of the month in Local.
    Thanks, Greg.

    Miriam

  19. Allen Taylor Says:

    The tools to enable these entities to easily contribute information haven’t been developed yet, but that’s just a matter of time.

    True, but are we talking about a true yellow pages type product? We can’t even get most small businesses in rural South Central Pa. to put up a website, which I think is a basic first step do doing business online and getting found. Anything beyond that is extra and most people just don’t have an understanding of the basics yet, let alone the extras. The problem with all local search isn’t that the tools aren’t available; it’s really that small business owners don’t have an interest or don’t understand it enough to take an interest. Until they do, what tools are available is a moot point, IMHO.

  20. earlpearl Says:

    Marty:

    I referenced yipit, because in my subjective mind, it is a “better quality” listing of local information. It digs deep into the products itself and enables a searcher to not only find the stores, but find which stores are carrying which merchandise. Then it goes deeper, allowing commentary, etc.

    To me that is a current example of “best information”. It must have been relatively expensive per each piece of data to put that together versus accumulating data on addresses, phone numbers, urls for millions of businesses vis a vis the search engines.

    Could it be that the quality of local information is a function of the cost and effort in assembling the information? If so, how does one monetize that to make it worthwhile?

  21. Stever Says:

    “…Oh, and before I hit Submit. I’m a huge proponent of small local businesses having their own website, and having it be their PRIMARY online presence, not the directories, verticals, review sites, Maps whatever.”

    I second that, Stever, if only for the reason that the business owner can have total control of this aspect of their business, whereas business listing are too often fraught with error.

    Not just for control, but ownership of the data and its usefulness in attracting search traffic.

    The problem with all local search isn’t that the tools aren’t available; it’s really that small business owners don’t have an interest or don’t understand it enough to take an interest.

    Most of them are just too busy running the day to day operations of their business. It’s also the reason, as I mentioned, most of them don’t do blogging very well. They don’t have the time or interest to develop the skills needed to use the blog to engage a conversation. Instead they just post dry sales letters that nobody wants to read.

    But local is still relatively new online and it’s evolving. The current economic crisis is certainly driving more small businesses to at least starting a web presence.

  22. ianpanrita Says:

    its nice artikel

    thanks

  23. earlpearl Says:

    Marty:

    Since this very interesting and provocative article I’ve recontacted the folks at Yipit, with whom I interacted several months ago. Yes, Yipit is a vertical and yes it covers a finite area (Manhatten) as opposed to the entire nation. Still it tackles the issue of complete 1 to 1 identification of businesses and then it does some more things. In fact it adds some layers of additional information, that I at least, find quite informative and interesting.

    I suspect that the quality of information provided in some way is a function of costs in data accumulation and then again for a large aggregator of information or mega large aggregator (such as Google Maps and Yahoo Local) it also requires significant costs in presenting this information.

    My orientation is costs and effort as a reflection of the accuracy or quality of information.

    Yes, they do spend extra and invest extra personnel hours in accumulating and verifying the data. I suspect that is part of the reason their ability to pump out more information is superior to other sources I have yet seen.

    I believe in past discussions Chris Silver-Smith addressed this somewhat with regard to accumulating vast amounts of data through the YP’s and other sources Google, Yahoo, and MSN used to develop nationwide data. I believe he also referenced that in the process there was some short cut efforts made. Possibly cutting back on the data accumulation effort dramatically hurts the ability to provide the type of quality of “factual data” you suggest.

    Anyways thank you for the provocative article.

    Dave

  24. Marty Himmelstein Says:

    Dave,

    One way to evaluate the appropriate amount of effort to put into creating information is to determine how valuable that information is. The average value of an unstructured web page is far less than the average value of a rich business listing. (Some few people might take issue with this assertion, but hopefully not on this forum.) The same relationship holds for the appropriate amount of structure for a given type of information. On one end, you have most web pages (and blog posts), which have little value, and on the other you have corporate information (the database record that contains your salary, say), which has lots of value. Most web pages have little value, but they are easy to create. Local search content has higher value, and we should expect that it takes more effort to create.

    Vertical sites like Yipit put effort into creating content for vertical segments, and the rich local content they create is obviously more valuable than basic listings data.

    In the future people will expect deep information for whatever they are searching for. Some of this content will be in the form of structured data, and some will be meta-information. Hiking trails offer a simple example. The structured information might include start and end points, difficulty level, trail conditions, and links to pictures and video of the trail. The meta-information will include how to choose good hiking shoes, the proper way to negotiate rock slides, how to get your bearings if you get lost, and so forth. (Much of the meta-information will be links to already existing web pages.)

  25. Michael Bauer Says:

    Forgive my language but f*** plumbers. The conversation about local always seems to be stuck in the language of yellow. Yellow was there when the need was urgent. Google is there for that now too. I would wager that the majority of the some 3 million global Google searches for plumber were urgent and that in these situations what comes up above the fold is going to be good enough for the majority of those cases. SEO makes it here.

    Now, when the need isn’t urgent and you want a plumber, an electrician, or a home remodeler, the majority of people are going to ASK someone they know. Outside of any alpha geeks that are prone to do a comparative analysis with an RFI submission process and a net present value calculation people are just going to ask people. Social networks make it here. Or a phone call.

    So, don’t get me entirely wrong. I do believe a good meta-information source is valuable. That’s what I think we all thought SMB Meta was going to provide around the turn of the century. You can follow this link and see where that’s gone: http://www.trellixtech.com/smbmetaintro.html. I just think that such a meta-information source has to be dialed into the reality of local consumer behavior and that we should frame the conversation about local where the majority of local commerce is conducted.

    PS, anyone know a good lawyer in Denver?

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