4 thoughts on “Local Rules! from Search Engine Land

  1. There is a problem with my understanding what is meant by ‘local’ and how one goes about defining its nature and extent. If a person is sitting in a cafe’s wireless hotspot and is seeking something, local might mean ‘within walking distance’ particularly if he has no car available or parking is difficult or there is a rainstorm in progress or if his schedule is heavily influenced by upcoming nearby appointments.
    If that same person is searching from his home where he has a car in his driveway and its a pleasant day for a drive anyway, ‘local search’ might have a different meaning.

    And if he specifies “the Valley” as a prime geographical search area, he darn well better differentiate between Silicon Valley and a large area of Los Angeles or zillions of other areas often referred to as ‘the valley’.

    The nearby post office may have no parking, a more distant post office may be far more convenient. A person may want one hotel but be perfectly happy with any nearby hotel.

    Granularity of descriptions is wonderful, but what is the difference between a tavern/bar/lounge/club? Just about the same as the difference between ‘near’ and ‘far’?

    If people start at google out of sheer habit but are not happy with localized results, where does a user go next?
    Too many sites that return ‘name, address and map location’ take a long time to load.

  2. Excellent points as always FG. Even though one of my projects – Online Highways – would be considered a locally focused site I’ve never been comfortable, or even understood, the distinction most make in the industry between “local search” and “search”. You’ve given some of the reasons above.

    I think the big players like Google view this in something of a strategic way. They are having a lot of trouble answering a query like “What is the best restaurant in Talent Oregon?”. They can give a list of all the places, or reviews of each, or even find references in blogs and such to “the best restaurant in CityName”, but without another level of processing Google can’t answer this type of common, important query. It’s that second level of processing that a “local search” website should address. In the Travel Sector I think the standout is TripAdvisor.com, which has reviews of hotels and restaurants. Some of the reviews are bogus but they now have enough that they are much more helpful than just a list.

  3. Went to Google and tried that restaurants in Talent Oregon. After four clicks I got something that supposedly was a wine bar in Talent Oregon but clearly was simply a cabinetry firm. I also found an inn that probably serves some wines from time to time. I got a bit bored with the search and gave up. Oh, and the map showed the restaurants as being 7 miles from Talent Oregon. That would be a long walk for a great many tourists to undertake! I sure wonder how many nice decent restaurants I would pass by on that seven mile trek? If I actually had to undergo such an ordeal, I sure would never return to that town and spend any money in their restaurants or any other business there. Could I have clicked on some better ‘hit’ from Google? Sure, but I didn’t. Its like going up to the lobby desk when their are two hotel clerks on duty: you may get different restaurant recommendations, but hopefully neither clerk would send you seven miles out of town!

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