It’s 10:00 pm. Do you know who just changed your business listing?

Filed in Local Search, Yahoo by Matt McGee on January 4, 2007 0 Comments

I’ve written before about local search and the gargantuan problem of how to get small businesses to manage their business information across the local web.

How does Google handle this problem? They’ve been much more aggressive recently, putting the “Business owner: Add/Edit Your Listing” link all over Google Maps. Just today as I searched for hotel listings, Google was wondering if I’m the owner of Hilton Hotels. 🙂

How does Yahoo handle this problem? Being the fans of user-generated content that they are, they let you and me do the heavy lifting for any business listing we want to edit. Business listings in Yahoo Local now have a small (much too small, frankly) “Edit This Listing” link below the star ratings, and that link is shown to anyone and everyone. Their thinking? If the business owner doesn’t want to add or edit the listing, why not let the customers? All the details are on the Y!Local blog: Are you in the know? Give us your local insights!

What they’re doing is very interesting: Anything a 3rd party does to a listing is marked accordingly. Add a new business you like, and the listing clearly indicates the listing was submitted by a Yahoo user. Edit a listing and the info. you submit won’t be added into the listing, but will be available in a pop-up window from a link titled “View changes proposed by a Yahoo user.” And then, to further harness the power of the community, anyone who views the proposed change gets asked, “Do you agree with the new information?”

Is there risk here? Spam? Attacks? Not that I see. Yahoo isn’t really offering carte blanche to go in and mark up someone else’s listing. After you submit an update, Yahoo thanks you for helping “keep Yahoo local relevant and up to date,” and then explains that they’ll manually review the changes you made. (see image)

Yahoo screenshot

How quickly are changes reflected in the listing? Yahoo says “ASAP” on the blog post, and “as soon as we can” on the Thank You screen (above). I just submitted the correct URL for a local store while getting that screenshot above, so I’ll keep an eye on how soon my change is added.

Whose approach is better? I’m a fan of user-generated content, so my natural instinct is to say “Yahoo.” I think getting more people involved is always a better way to go, but in this case I’m not sure it’s the method that will win. With Google spamming that “Add/Edit Your Listing” link all over Google Maps, small business owners using Google Maps are more likely to see the link than a customer will see the hard-to-find “Edit This Listing” link in Yahoo Local. And the small business owner has a lot more motivation to get listed or fix a listing than any customer. I like what Yahoo’s doing; I’m just not confident it’ll have enough impact in its current form. (Make that link more prominent, would ya, Yahoo?)

[tags]local search, small business, yahoo[/tags]

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