Yelp should own local. But it doesn’t. The company, founded in the mobile dark age of 2004, is being assaulted on some major fronts. There’s Foursquare of course, but the biggest threat is Facebook’s renewed interest in local, which the company will be building out in the coming months in the form of a feature called “Nearby.”
While I agree that services like Facebook and Foursquare are threats to Yelp, I wouldn’t classify them as Yelp’s biggest threats.
IMO, the biggest threat to Yelp is the same threat that all players in Local face – huge audience fragmentation coupled with huge advertiser fragmentation. In other words, it’s hard/expensive both to aggregate enough consumer demand for local marketing and to aggregate (and retain) enough local marketers to meet that demand. If Yelp sells a dentist in Fresno a package, they need to have people in Fresno looking for dentists at the time those ads are showing, and they need to do it for every vertical in every geo every day. Every player, big and small, in this space faces this. While Facebook Nearby/Graph Search will surely suck up a lot of advertiser and perhaps consumer attention, it will face the same problems.
Yelp’s biggest threat is that it is playing in Local. And Local is hard.
While I don’t expect Facebook Nearby to stay ad-free forever, with the entry of Facebook Nearby and Apple Maps, both ad-free, I’d say 2012 has been the most interesting year in the Local Search biz since Google Places rolled out. Many in the industry would argue that the ads do help people find the right businesses and help businesses do a better job at generating lead flow. But in the near term, I see these developments as being both a great win for consumers (more services to choose from) and a great pain for them (local search services can be hard to do well – see death by Apple Maps). But in the long run, the real winners will be local businesses and the agencies that help them navigate these murky waters. More big services competing to service SMBs should, in the long run*, produce better services for those SMBs.
A friend who is a former spook told me how he once smuggled an Arab man out of the Middle East. ”I dressed him in short pants.” ”Why?” I asked. ”Because Arab men never wear shorts. People tend to only see what you tell them to see.”
Which brings me to the following response I got from a client developer when I pointed out to their in-house SEO that one of their templates was linking internally with 302s, which is not necessarily a good thing SEO-wise:
Actually there is no redirect in this case. What you experience is the result of caching in the browser, ie we set headers on the page to cache the response for few hours, so next few hours you re-access the page you get the cached result of the browser, which is returning with a 302 response. A script, ie google bot, that tries to download the page, doesn’t experience this response, so google sees 200 response code and the way you can see that is by by-passing your browser and calling the request via a terminal…
I am sure he thought it was true and his email certainly sounded convincing – and there was enough tech jargon in there to give the in-house SEO pause – but a quick search in Google showed that the redirects were getting indexed in Google. A quick crawl of the site with user-agent=Googlebot showed that the 302s were being seen by “a script”. And a quick “Fetch as Googlebot” from Google Webmaster Tools showed that Googlebot was fetching these links.
And once this stuff was pointed out to the dev guy, he realized, without any drama btw, that there might be something to these observations.
I like to say that doing SEO for clients is like going on a blind date with an engineering team. Despite that, I often find the in-house devs become huge enthusiasts of SEO because it usually drives making their site better. But just because they have technical knowledge doesn’t mean you should not notice that they are wearing shorts.
CYA Note: If the dev who sent the email mentioned above is reading this, I have no problem with how you responded. Thought you were totally pro about it.
A new client has been seriously dinged by Google because their site is littered with SPAM. This is quite common for UGC sites where the U is a perv merchant or a purveyor of high quality fake medical products. Even sites that do not have UGC can be hacked and infected with this kind of crap. The problem is that many site-owners either never check their sites for this stuff, or even worse, they know it’s there and they ignore it. Hey, it’s not hurting anyone and it would cost me some $ to get rid of it right?
Of course when Google knocks your traffic down by 40% overnight, you sit up and take notice.
With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to provide you all with a simple method for detecting this stuff. Here’s what you do:
Sorry for the dramatic headline – I am doing some research on how SEO/SEM agencies service SMBs and I am looking to do brief interviews with agencies that handle between 20-100ish SMB clients (or more if you want). If you fit the bill and are interested, please ping me via my contact form or via Twitter.
Thanks for the great response to this. We are full-up on interviews right now, but we may need more in the future, so feel free to ping me anyhow to let me know you’re out there and I may reach out at some point.
Mike Blumenthal’s instant classic Google Local: Train Wreck at the Junction has spawned a lively Google Plus thread where various Localistas have been wringing their hands as to why oh why can’t Google stop screwing SMBs. While I am in agreement that Google Plus Place Local Multi Merge for Business Dashboardgate has been absolutely no fun, to me it seems like just the latest in an ongoing saga of companies trying to serve SMBs and falling short.
While Google and others have done great things for SMBs, small businesses as a group are notoriously hard to serve:
They are hard to acquire as customers
When you do acquire them, they tend not to want to spend a lot of money
Once you start doing stuff for them, they tend to have a lot of questions/issues, etc. so customer support costs are high
They tend to churn out at a high rate – a lot go out of business, many don’t want to wait for long-term results or don’t invest enough to get meaningful results, and providing great service at the low prices they demand is tough, so they bail
My guess as to the conversations that have gone on at Google:
“We’re having a hard time getting the Google+ Places Merging Dashboard thingy right. The whole thing needs to be rebuilt from the ground up while the car is moving at high speed and we are spread kind of thin at the moment.”
“How’s Adwords Express?”
“We’re hitting our numbers. Businesses that can’t get their Google Places, er I mean +Local, thing right are using it to get on the SERPs.”
“Great. Keep putting band-aids on the problems. We’ll get there eventually. I am sure one of those companies we acquired can figure it out.”
So when I see Google seemingly not investing enough in a coherent product for SMBs, I only partially blame Google. Part of this just seems to be the nature of the beast. As I said on G+, if we went back ten years and substituted “Yellow Pages” for “Google Local”, we’d probably be hearing the same complaints. Still a train wreck, though.
My name is Carol and my ex-boyfriend dumped me 4 months ago after I caught him of having an affair with someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don’t know what to do, so I visited the internet for help and I saw a testimony of how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problems to him….. he cast a spell for me and assure me of 4 days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my Lemmy came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that,we are about to get married. Once again thank you Dr. Oldest, you are truly talented and gifted. firstname.lastname@example.org is the only answer to any relationship problem.he can be of great help and I will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man email@example.com
He’s pretty good at finding lost Google Places reviews too…
Typical ignorant American that I am, I had never used Nokia’s maps. Then when they made their big, in-your-face-Apple/Google announcement, I had to check it out. The first thing I noticed was that there was almost no effort to communicate to businesses how to work with the service. In fact, the UI was so lacking in that regard, that in my initial draft of the post, I actually wasn’t sure how to add a business to Nokia Maps, err, I mean Here (HERE?).
According to the Twitter widget on the post, it has received 86 RTs thus far. Not bad. But since Google doesn’t have access to the full Twitter firehose of tweets, it’s doubtful that the bulk of those tweets will be indexed any time soon. At the moment, it looks like only 7 have been indexed.
But if we look at non-Twitter URLs in the index from sites that have displayed the tweets, we can see something else happening.
Here are the total non-Twitter, non-localseoguide.com URLs in Google that contain the phrase “Forget Linkbuilding, Do a Groupon”: 28 URLs indexed thus far
Now, many of these URLs are scrapers that just reprinted my post, but if we filter the query a bit by adding “RT”, it looks like 8 URLs in the index.
Now I haven’t checked all of these to see if they have links back to my site, but you can see how if you tweet content that gets a decent amount of RTs, aka “good content”, that in turn can generate links back to your site from other sites that post the tweets. It also makes your content more likely to get seen and reposted by other sites/bloggers/tweeters, etc. like Cyrus Shepard did on Inbound.org (Please vote it up!).
So yes Virginia, Twitter can help your SEO, but it helps if your stuff is worth RTing.