I just gave a talk on top SEO tricks and now Erik Jorgensen of Microsoft Local is going to blow our minds with some great mapping tricks.  Here’s the stream of consciousness:

One size does not fit all when it comes to local. 3 modes of website use:

1. Find – looking for quick answers

2. Research – specific search intent but exploring to find answers. Long time investment and emotional investment.

3. Explore – Having fun. Seeing where information takes you.

Search engines provide entry for 70% of local queries v. portals but it’s hard to distinguish the mode of the user based on how they ente.

The user task happens across devices and beyond sessions. If you’re at Best Buy you want access via your mobile device to the comparison shopping data you were looking at on your PC at home.

MSN uses NetPromoter to measure how likely your users are to recommend your site. Focus on how to turn your users into evangelists.

Evolution of Local Search

Early focus on speed evolved to focus on speed and accomplishment: They have made a huge investment in helping users figure out traffic patterns and offering tips on routes to take.

Breadth evolves to breadth and depth:
Depth of data without requiring work. If you are looking for a business they add one click directions, related businesses, etc. Adding these features has resulted in 40% increase in click-through off these pages.

10x growth in “Collections” (UGC). Over 18 million comments on the listings – greater than the their total business listings.


3D Maps. Erik is now showing us a very cool 3d view of the Space Needle. They now have 270 cities in full 3-D. Time to add some memory and horsepower to your computer. Now looking at Dallas with meta data/UGC. You can look at the building from where JFK was shot and click on meta data that tells about the history. You can capture your experience and turn it into a video which you can then show on YouTube. Pretty cool. So Gib Olander could put together a tour of Seattle dive bars and instantly broadcast.

Coming down the pike: “street-side quality” 3D models of street views. We are looking at an external view of a movie theater. It looks sort of what Main Street would look like if Pixar did it. They can dynamically add movie times, ticket purchase, ads, etc.

Mobile: Real time location based search is the killer app. If I am a restaurant I can broadcast a promotion that hits people walking by my place. It needs to be automated so that it does not require a lot of work by a business.

Ok, this is cool. They are working on adding “smart gesture recognition” to the phone. Think of your phone as a Wii controller so if you have it in camera mode you can use a gesture to zoom or pan, etc.

Microsoft wants Virtual Earth to be the platform that other companies build there businesses on.  Showing examples of RedFin, FedEx, City of Miami, Washington State Tourism, Yellowpages.com, the Harley Davidson Ride Planner.

Performance is still an issue but Microsoft is betting that performance will improve exponentially over the next couple of years. I am wondering once the fun of trying these types of tools out how practical they will be in helping users accomplish their tasks.  Who knows?

It’s great that there are companies out there that can afford to make these huge bets to develop these amazing technologies.  Very cool stuff.

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One Response Comment

  • Gib Olander  May 4, 2008 at 7:56 am

    I have to admit, Andrew. You are not only a Local Search Expert but a deep thinker with a keen understanding of the human condition. Thanks for insightful blog posts.