I did a runner this week in San Jose — spent exactly 24 hours in town for the SES show, which didn’t give me much time to take in sessions. In fact, aside from the one panel on which I spoke, I only attended one session (and had to leave early, too).
The one session I caught was Local 2.0: The Evolution of Local Search, put on by The Kelsey Group. I’m liking these Kelsey sessions at the last few SES shows because they tap into areas of local that I usually don’t cover here on SBSM: industry news and trends, upcoming players in the local space, and so forth. I get a fair amount of pitches from companies claiming to have the “next Big Thing” for local search and small business, telling me that I should really check ‘em out and blog about them … and I never do because the focus on this blog is more about strategy and tactics than industry news and trends.
So at yesterday’s session in San Jose, I enjoyed hearing some industry news and trends. Here are some notes from what I heard:
Peter Hutto of Local.com shared some stats about his company’s growth, and then talked about the playing field for local search portals. “Every one of the big players in local has a video strategy,” he said. And everyone’s also trying to improve on local mapping, local shopping, reviews, and the same set of local functions for users. Local.com is trying to figure out how to develop these tools into a unique user experience to separate themselves from competitors. (No doubt everyone is trying to do the same thing.) Hutto also hinted that Local.com will launch a new mapping system/tool on its site soon that will be a major upgrade over the functionality they have now.
Ian White of Urban Mapping shared some older data (I think he said it was from 2006) about local search behavior:
- 40% of queries have local intent
- 5% use the city and/or state name
- 2% use informal terms, like neighborhoods
- .05% use zip codes
I’d like to see some updated data like this; I’m pretty confident Yahoo (or was it someone else) gave a much higher number than 40% for “local intent,” although that’s a term with several definitions. In fact, I have to believe all of these stats are higher today — though the ZIP code number might not be much higher.
Joel Toledano of Krillion really opened my eyes. I’m familiar with their name and what they do, but not with the level of success they’ve achieved. Krillion is all about real-time, location-based product search — i.e., finding stuff to buy that’s in stock where you live. You may recall my late 2006 article talking about real-time product inventory being the “killer app” of local search. Well, Krillion is making huge strides toward this. Toledano says his company has agreements with all of the major big-box retailers in popular product categories — retailers like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, etc. And Krillion will also be powering The Find‘s iPhone app. (Why wouldn’t Krillion just make its own, I wonder….)
Steve Espinosa of eLocal Listings gave his usual good presentation on actionable local search tactics, and shared a couple interesting stats from his company’s experiences:
- “Merchant verified” listings in Yahoo get 1.8x more calls than unverified listings.
- Companies with a local listing in the SERPs and a video listing get 3.34x more traffic.
As much as I enjoyed Steve’s presentation, it did seem out of place on what was otherwise a panel about industry players and trends. I missed the last presentation from Google’s Meredith Papp — had to get over to the room where my panel was happening and get ready for my presentation.
This was a good session overall and I’m glad I picked it as the one I could attend in my short time down in San Jose.