Noteworthy Local Happenings of the Week

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

This week in local, Mike Blumenthal turned over a rock and discovered what appeared to be a cluster of brash affiliate spammers creeping around Yahoo! Local. His Search Engine Land article included nice screenshots of the Marriott Hotel chain with very weird URLs in their local listings. It looked to most of us like someone had taken control of Marriott’s listings and inserted an affiliate redirect URL into them in order to profit from a piece of the action. Bad stuff.

Within a couple of days, however, Matt McGee published a terrific interview with Brian Gil of Yahoo! Local and asked him about the Marriott Hotel issue. Brian suggested that what appears to be grave affiliate spam may not be what we think it is. In other words, he is seeming to indicate that Marriott may know this is happening and is using those weird redirects in order to track stats of some kind. Brian didn’t say this is a fact, but he hinted at it, in my opinion. Frankly, I’m confused. The interview is well worth reading as it delves into both the the importance of the long tail for Local SEO as well as the dubious power of user reviews. It seems Yahoo! Local is giving less weight to reviews than I might have thought. Interesting.

And, on the subject of winning reviews from customers, Michael Jensen of Solo SEO launched LeaveFeedback.org. I got to preview this terrific new user review service, and got to know Michael a bit in the process – very nice! The ability this service provides to business owners to organize their efforts to win reviews is exceptional and Michael’s blog post will tell you all about Leave Feedback.

On a silly note, I discovered that Google has changed their previous policy of not counting their own reviews in Maps and is now counting them twice!

Things I’m Wondering About
I’d like to see the long tail optimization in Yahoo! Local that Brian Gil was talking about in action. Does anyone have an example of this being done for a business? Is it possible at the free business registration level? If anyone can show me an example, it will greatly help me to get a good handle on how this works.

I’m also really looking forward to hearing success stories about the use of LeaveFeedback.org. I want to start using it myself for a couple of clients but am not quite ready to introduce this service to them yet as I’m tied up in other tasks for them.

Lastly, I’m thinking about how cool it is that someone like Brian Gil made himself so available to Matt. I’m wondering if Google will ever give us a Matt Cutts-like rep for Google Maps. Yahoo Local continues to come across as the far more accessible entity of the two competitors. I applaud Yahoo! for that.

6 Responses to “Noteworthy Local Happenings of the Week”

  1. on 27 Mar 2008 at 3:09 pm Michael Jensen

    Miriam, thanks for the mention, it was great getting your feedback and ideas for leavefeedback.org. Very helpful!

  2. on 27 Mar 2008 at 5:31 pm Local Hound

    My understanding of that would be this… say a person is looking to convert their house from oil heat to gas heat.

    They might go to the internet and type in “oil to gas conversions paramus nj”. Rather than plumbers or heating contractors.

    The local site will try and return business listings with that term in their profile… not necessarily a particular category. So being in a category is not enough.

    Hope that helps

  3. on 27 Mar 2008 at 6:20 pm admin

    Michael, it was my pleasure. This is definitely a very brilliant invention!

  4. on 27 Mar 2008 at 6:21 pm admin

    Tim -
    Thanks for talking with me about this. Using your example, I can refine my question. WHERE in the business profile would ‘oil to gas conversions’ be coming from? Obviously, not the category, so where?

    Miriam

  5. on 27 Mar 2008 at 8:23 pm Local Hound

    Local sites use sort of a hybrid between category search & keyword search. When a category is queried it simply pulls up the category.

    When a keyword is used (which is anything that is not a category) the local engine than looks to the information given by the business owner. In this example if the business owner listed ‘oil to gas conversion’ as one of the SERVICES provided. That listing will be returned.

    So, the “where” is the information provided to the engine by the business owner.

    The same thing could happen with brand names… user types in Canon Camera and the business listed Canon as on of the BRAND NAMES, that business is going to be returned. Or as Brian Gill put it… will be part of the initial recall.

    Does that make sense Miriam?

  6. on 28 Mar 2008 at 12:13 am admin

    Hi Tim,
    That makes beautiful sense, thank you. The data is coming from the part in the registration process where the business owner lists brands carried, services provided, etc. Now that I’m clear on that, it all makes very good sense. Thank you for your patient explanation, Tim. I appreciate it!
    Miriam

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