Or should I say, “Google breaks local business listings.” I noticed a major change last week, with the number one spot in local business listings of the moderately competetive keyphrase “bay area web design” being taken by a company that looked to be defunct and was not taking on new clients.
When I checked yesterday, I was presented with this bizarre scene:
The “Digg” result is apparently a laundromat categorized under web design:
Could the engineers at Google actually be that inept? Or is it something else?
When Bing launched last summer, I noted how horrible their local business listings were. A search for “Pleasanton Web Design” resulted in not one business located in Pleasanton, and only one in the (925) area code. Now, almost 3 months later, there has been no improvement, and my local business listing is still marked as “Pending.” I also noted that Bing had sponsored results located prominently in the failed local business search area. Let’s face it – sponsored listings are search engine’s bread and butter, and is it really so much of a stretch to think the would throw local businesses to the wolves in order to get more clicks on their sponsored results? The typical searcher doesn’t know a sponsored result from a natural result so most people don’t notice. Maybe they will get a little frustrated, but Bing has shown significant growth after its launch, so maybe they are copying their model of short-term profit before quality. Or maybe Google’s destruction of their local business listings was purely an accident and will be fixed soon. Only time will tell.
Search leaders Google and Bing have reached and agreement with Twitter to include “tweets” in their search results. “Tweets” are the short messages that are generated by the numerous Twitter users. This new “real time” search component is aimed at getting current information, like news, sports and events, in the search results immediately.
At this moment it is unclear how Twitter will be integrated into the results of these two search giants. If you actually use Twitter, you are aware of the potiential for garbage (spam or otherwise) that the service can produce. The way to control this, as a user, is to limit the people you are following to only trusted friends. It’s a good bet that Google and Bing will do the same, and that only the tweets of prominent businesses or trusted experts will be included in this new real-time search component. After all, Google uses this model to an increasing extent in their standard natural search results.
So if you are small business or individual, don’t get too excited about your tweets showing up on Google or Bing just yet. It may not be happening.
These may seem obvious, but I have seen them all!
1. Your concept is not unique. Too many would-be entrepeneurs see a successful online business and think “If they can do it why can’t I?” Well, there are probably a lot of reasons, not the least of which is their headstart in the market. Are you prepared to outspend an established business in marketing?
2. Your concept has limited appeal. Such a small number of people would be interested in your product or service, that cost of marketing to those people would put your project in the red.
3. Your target audience doesn’t have money. Marketing to a segment of the population that is frugal or has limited spending power means little or no money for you.
4. Your product or service is available elsewhere for free. Even if it’s a little better, free will always win.
5. Your concept is so unique that people won’t know to search for it. In this case you’ll need to build demand and educate the world about your product or service. Certainly possible if you have a significant budget set aside to do so.