Saturday, June 09, 2007

Local Business is Different Everywhere

Local businesses have to do a lot to be found online. Users have many options: SuperPages, Yahoo, Google, MSN, and dozens of IYPs that make up the majority of local search. Businesses are lucky to be accurately found, and even then they're not likely to have their preferred information presented. The problem and is real.

In order to get the most exposure to online consumers, businesses need to be well published on as many channels as possible. Unfortunately there is not silver bullet, meaning, you can't rely on any single destination or data provider alone. Even if your business record is verified and enhanced with InfoUSA, that information won't make it everywhere. It is up to the the business owner to provide information to every local business website out there.

If business owners publish information to destination on their own, the process is seemingly similar. Each requires a business name, phone number, category, description, hours of operation, etc. Now just repeat the process dozens of times to each valuable destination and local directory. At the very least it's time consuming, furthermore, if its not completed right or to the right sites, your might not get any response.

The chaos has prompted some to called for the standardization of local search information. A standard way to input and output business data. In it's ultimate incarnation, a standard might allow a local business to promote their deals to the whole internet from one place. Unfortunately it's not likely to happen any time soon, if ever.

Why? None of the heavyweight information providers will get behind it. Destinations such as Yahoo, Google, SuperPages, which have a large, growing databases of business content are not interested in bulk re-publishing. The destinations are very interested in user submitted information, but bulk publishing leaves the door open for spam. Unless there is substantial lead generation or other financial benefit, we won't find support from the search giants.

This leave the data conglomerates: InfoUSA, Acxiom, and Amacai. Supporting a standard would only be done if their clients asked for it. This might ultimately minimize their differentiation of data. Their customers are more interested in the mass amount and quality of data, not unification of data fields.

Besides lack of corporate support, there are technical issues why local search can't be standardized.

We have seen the search gorillas unite on some causes like sitemaps and anti-spam. While it's reasonable for a local business owner to supply their own data, they already did when purchasing their domain. A deeper look or revamp of the whois system should perhaps be considered. Given that whois information is already used in search, it is reasonable to expect that the basic local business information already exists there.

We will sooner see information alliances in other internet content services such as video… it's hard to see YouTube, Joost and the myriad of online video service supporting an open import/export of their content; don’t expect the same from the IYP’s.


The good news is that a few agencies focus on data syndication rather than privatizing your information. I am behind RelevantAds, which provides a service that provides rich information to a number of local search destinations and social networks. A key difference with the RelevantYellow versus other services is the inclusion of social networks such as Yelp, CraigsList and InsiderPages. In short, it ensures that local businesses get online.


Dall said...

I'm looking for support and trying to spread the word of this Uni experiment website..

Cai said...

This is great info to know.