Here Comes Yellowspaces

picture-23Gib Olander has been tweeting about Yellowspaces for the past 48 hours but the official release just came out this morning. I wrote briefly about the new local search engine at SEL.

To look at Yellowspaces is to see a site that has a couple of nifty features but is not going to strike people immediately as anything new or different. Although one interesting angle is that Yellowspaces is playing up its relationship with Localeze and using its Confidence Scoring as part of the Yellowspaces algorithm.

So I sent a number of questions about what makes the site different and whether Localeze has any stake in Yellowspaces to the company to get some additional insight. (One thing I neglected to ask about was reviews, which are not present on the site.) Founder Constantin Manta, who is an accountant by day, entrepreneur by night, provided the answers below. According to his PR firm, he “came into the local search business as most of his clientele are small business owners trying to make a name for themselves/advertise their business and struggling with traditional Yellow Pages and even many of the local search engines.”

Here are Manta’s thoughts and verbatim responses to my questions:

Localeze is the primary data source of the YS business listings. The Confidence Score adds an extra layer of relevance to our YellowRank™ relevancy algorithm. Our YellowRank score tells you how well we think this business matches your search. We give it a higher rank the closer it is to you, so this number is dynamic, it will change based on where field (point 4). If a business seems to really represent what you’re looking for it will score highly. Best matches will be both accurate and close!

Localeze has no financial interest [in Yellowspaces]

YellowSpaces was NOT primarily designed to be found by Google/other major search engines (although we have SEO). To me this is important. The local search community is currently focused on SEO because they don’t take themselves seriously as search engines. They actually believe that the natural entry point to their search engines is another search engine. They have no faith that people will automatically go to them when looking for local data. We are confident enough to think that we will be able to improve on the Localeze data over time to be one of the top places to come for local searches.

Our location “where” field can be populated with:
– Zip code: 10001
– City, State: Howard Beach, NY
– Neighborhood: Upper West Side (New York NY)
– County: Lee County (Lee FL)
– Landmark: Yankee Doodle Lake (Boulder CO) / Giants Stadium (Bergen NJ)

We have BOTH a structured category system (see the browse link in the footer) and free text search. The free text search are tags (keywords) that business owners can place into their business listing and/or are service keywords and brands from the Localeze data set. Our tags are called: YellowTags™

Website Strengths:
User-friendly and clean design.
Provides information quickly.
Designed to support additional business content (images, video etc)
Although YellowSpaces is currently ad-supported, everything you need about a business is easily found.
Mobile version (coming soon for the iPhone)

Perhaps most interesting among Manta’s responses is this one:

YellowSpaces was NOT primarily designed to be found by Google/other major search engines (although we have SEO). To me this is important. The local search community is currently focused on SEO because they don’t take themselves seriously as search engines. They actually believe that the natural entry point to their search engines is another search engine. They have no faith that people will automatically go to them when looking for local data. We are confident enough to think that we will be able to improve on the Localeze data over time to be one of the top places to come for local searches.

This is a gutsy position to take and in some sense correct — you have to build a “branded” destination experience to survive long term. What to you folks think about this attitude and/or Yellowspaces in general?

picture-24

11 Responses to “Here Comes Yellowspaces”

  1. earlpearl Says:

    Designed to be a direct source for local information….and doesn’t depend on the Search Engines? hmmm…..gimme a break. There have been other attempts at this. It would take enormous money and a huge effort to break the Google habit.

    Just think of this. Currently Google Maps is both experiencing problems with its own algorythms and is populated by spammers.

    Yahoo Local has to have virtually the same volume of data as Google Maps having used similar methods to obtain data.

    Is there a mass migration over to Yahoo Local? I don’t think so.

    Is there a mass migration anywhere? I don’t think so.

    I suspect the overall satisfaction level for Google Maps is pretty high….despite the numerous problems as often identified by Mike Blumenthal.

    More interestingly is that currently local search is dramatically serviced by basic organic search…albeit with a Map inserted into the results.

    Why bother going anywhere else?

  2. AhmedF Says:

    If there is any one site that could give Google big trouble, it could very well be OSM.

  3. David Mihm Says:

    I dunno, Dave, if someone can improve upon Google Maps’ relevancy and filtering, there might be a migration if Google itself doesn’t get its act together soon…there’s still so much more room for “building a better mousetrap” when it comes to Local than organic…

  4. Constantin S. Manta Says:

    Dear Greg Sterling,
    What a pleasant surprise to read your sympathetic blog about YellowSpaces! We’re all excited about the launch, and your story makes it even more exciting. Thank you for offering such intelligent insight about the site and for devoting so much space to it.

  5. predictabuy Says:

    I think we need to stop thinking of local as a ‘search’ problem and frame it as a recommendation one. If I’m looking for pizza, then yes proximity is probably a really important factor. But the right choices for me are very dependent on my current situation and preferences:
    – Am I a person who likes my pizza ‘straight-up’ or exotic?
    – Am I in a rush and looking for the quickest option?
    – Am I bored and looking for something new?
    – Have I just come back from an exotic location and looking for an old favorite?

    I just did some primary research (ok, I asked my wife) about the ‘ranking’ of local search results (generally, not specific to Yellow Spaces). She said the rankings never make any sense to her and because of this she viewed the order of presentation as ‘suspicious’.

    I think we need to be more transparent with our users on how we present results and recommendations to them. A ranking is inherently a form of recommendation. If it doesn’t have an obvious rationale then people will rightly be suspicious.

    And I’d certainly agree that someones skill level (or investment) in SEO isn’t an indicator of whether or not they are the best fit for me! I’m looking for the person serving the pizza I want to eat!

    And the pizza vendor is better served by serving people who want to be there as well.

    Cheers,
    Eric

  6. Dave Hucker Says:

    BALLSY. I both respect Manta’s position and at the same time cannot discount the importance of established search engines as destinations for consumers looking for local. I do however believe he may be a bit mistaken in his belief that “local search community is currently focused on SEO because they don’t take themselves seriously as search engines.”. To be more precise, the local search community uses SEO to leverage the power of the major players in search to get their sites to show up in relevance. Manta himself says they use SEO. It would be kinda dumb not to.

    (SMX 2008: “80%+ of searches start with a search engine”) No matter how you slice it….that pretty much says it all.

    (comscore 07)
    TOP National Properties by share of LOCAL Search (IYP) Searches:

    Yahoo Sites 22.4%
    Idearc Media (Superpages) 19.6%
    Google Sites 12.3%
    Yellowpages.com 10.3%
    AOL – Time Warner 7.2%
    Local.com 4.5%
    Yellow Book 2.7%
    Microsoft Sites 3.8%

    G has brand built on a solid DOMINANT (albeit somewhat controversial) foundation of all flavors of search. And that’s just Google. There are many many destination sites out there which utilize ‘local’ Yes, 08 and 09 are proving to be the ‘year of Local Search’ and for good reason. Local Search is huge and everyone is getting in on the band wagon.

    Hurray for YellowSpaces as Manta is providing another choice for the consumer and more choices is a good thing. And good for Localeze for trying to standardize ‘trust’ and ‘confidence’ scoring.

  7. earlpearl Says:

    @ Constantin: Good luck. Pardon my skepticism.
    @Ahmed: what is OSM
    @David: I don’t mean to say that Organic Google is great. Specifically I mean that Maps inserts into Organic makes it extraordinarily powerful and effective/highly visable and utilized at a very high level.

    Frankly with the problems G Maps has with merged listings, hijacked listings and their crummy method of responding I find it a scary system. I still suspect that hijackings are very possible.

    I think I’d tend to use Y Local. At least they have a customer service group. That is an enormous improvement over Google at the moment. I assume that the SE’s (G, Y, and MSN/Live) used and continue to use similar methods in data acquisition to establish their local data bases of businesses. Somehow I suspect the massive data collection might be larger than the Localese list….but I could be wrong. How did or how does Localese obtain data?

  8. predictabuy Says:

    One of the advantages Google (and all map providers have) is that ‘looking things up’ in maps to get directions is a very frequent use case. And because users are visiting it frequently they become familiar with the interface and may even begin to learn it’s more advanced features which builds loyalty.

    So when the time comes to look for a new place to eat (a less frequent use case), it’s quite natural to at least give G a try — because it’s what you know and what you’re used to.

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  11. billige mobiler Says:

    Keep the good posts comming:)

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