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MIHMORANDUM
No. 991
June 13th, 2011

21

Google Launches Indexed Local Directory Portals

Hat tip to Linda Buquet of Catalyst Local Marketing for being the first to spot the Austin and Portland versions below, and thus the first to publicize the overall concept.


Google has just released city-specific business directories that are clearly going to compete with Yelp, Citysearch, and all the other IYPs in terms of highlighting popular local businesses.

These are indexed, rankable pages within Google’s search results (here’s the proof).  When Place Pages first came out, we were surprised Google chose to index them…which they quickly chalked up to engineer error.  Something tells me these might be here to stay in the search results, though.

They are yet another entry point for business owners to sign up for Places and get into Google Offers.  Talkbin seems like it might have some interesting applications but so far no one from Google has followed up on my application so I don’t have anything further to report.

Here’s an earlier version (presumably a mockup) that doesn’t even use a Portland photo:

Here is a list of the portals I was able to find (which roughly mirror their Offers/Places feet-on-the-street pushes):

Austin

Portland

Madison

San Diego

(Charlotte does not yet have a page, I guess)

And interestingly, Google.com/seattle actually points to a jobs page for Google’s Kirkland office.

I am actually a little surprised it took them this long to do…my biggest question is when will Facebook do the same?

Let me know if you come across any other Google City Portals in the comments.


21 Responses to “Google Launches Indexed Local Directory Portals”

  1. I don’t think anyone is surprised by this and I’m kinda wondering what took them so long. Great that you supplied links so I can do some evening research. :)


    Michael Dorausch
  2. Michael, certainly you and I and Aaron Wall were not surprised 😀

    I wonder if the recent decision to remove photos from next to Blended Place Search listings has anything to do with the fact that Google might have decided to cluster photos around these new pages rather than give individual businesses that benefit?


    David Mihm
  3. Thanks David – I LOVE scooping stories! These directories look so nicely done, that at 1st I thought maybe this had already been announced and somehow I’d just missed it.

    As I mentioned in my post, be sure to check out the LOCAL phone number on the Business owner info pages that offer up this enticing invite:

    “Connect your business with Google.
    Use these resources for business owners, or call 512-xxx-xxxx to request an onsite visit with a Google Places business specialist.

    Does this maybe indicate support could be coming or is this simply hand holding to get more SMBs to sign up???


    Linda Buquet
  4. Linda,

    I did highlight that. I suspect it’s probably just a Google Voice # that redirects to somewhere in Mountain View or one of their other phone banks. They know what Local SEO’s know surely in terms of local #’s converting better than 800 #’s.


    David Mihm
  5. Great find David. The Talkbin thing is one of the more intriguing items. Not sure I 100% get it, but my hunch is that this is a demand-driven deals concept. So people message a spa that they would like a massage there and if enough people do it the spa creates a deal for those people. Something like that. Or not.


    Andrew Shotland
  6. Re Talkbin:

    …or another nail in Yelp’s reputation coffin with business owners. Allowing business owners a grace period to respond to nasty reviews before they get pushed out to the public on Places…was my first thought anyway.


    David Mihm
  7. The page at /portland/ has been online for a couple weeks at least, but adding the business listings is definitely something new. (And interesting!)


    —Matt McGee
  8. Seems like an interesting idea, but a totally (so far) different idea than a yelp, citysearch, etc.

    Why? The “events” and “from our team” sections.

    Rather than events from the businesses or from the city/metro area, the section highlights events for Google Places users/marketers rather than for the public in general. Same with the “from our team.” The section could highlight popular news, updates, tweets, or at least Buzz’ from the city, but instead showcases things about the Google places product rather than about the area.

    It has potential, but these pages, as of yet are for the Google/r community rather than city’s community.
    My thoughts…


    —Trey
  9. Good stuff! I wonder when we’ll see some citations from those Google directories in the Places listings.


    Yam Regve
  10. I wonder how long before we see something similar in the UK?


    Gary
  11. @Gary,
    Probably not too soon but not in the far future as well. Google UK is a strong branch of Google & very preferred one. After this new launch will gain enough momentum & stability- you’ll see it in the UK. I bet that UK or Canada will be next.


    Yam Regve
  12. As Matt said, the Portland page has been around for quite some time (about 2 months): http://goo.gl/40Dvh
    And the listings are also not new, as they were evident in the tab “Places” (as shown in the screenshot). However, the UI is completely new and they’ve added the events and community stuff.

    I am actually surprised they haven’t (as it seems) created yet such pages for Las Vegas (where they were throwing very hard advertising of Google Places) and New York (where they are promoting the Google Offers). Let’s hope they are going to launch such sites for more cities around the US and (hopefully) outside the country as well.


    Nyagoslav
  13. Finally it’s coming together in a city silo type of a format. I am also glad to see that Google is trying to encourage reviews by providing businesses with free marketing materials: http://www.googleplacescatalog.com/


    Julius
  14. I can see what they are doing but it doesn’t make any sense or seems scalable to handle beyond just a handful of locations and like said in the comments above NYC and Las Vegas is missing?

    But it would have made more sense to build out a new subdomain or scalable URL structure such as
    local.google.com/lasvegas
    google.com/us/lasvegas

    But I guess it’s Google and doesn’t really have to worry about that part as it can do what it wants and just manually place it at the top of the SERPs…


    David
  15. Well I guess Google is no long trying to keep these city directory portals a secret. Just found the 1st public acknowledgement I’ve seen so far.

    Just found this on Google Reader, was posted yesterday but I was out of office for the day.

    Google Places – San Diego
    Discover San Diego. Find and share places in San Diego on Google Places.
    http://www.google.com/sandiego/


    Linda Buquet
  16. Had not looked at the Yahoo local pages and am not sure if/when they were announced. But there are some similarities. Can only assume that like the Yahoo local deals page posted below, Google will soon be adding Google Offers to their new local city portals.

    Hat tip to Kathy who posted this comment over on my original blog post. Wanted to share it here.

    Kathy Long wrote on June 14, 2011 :
    I just checked out Yahoo’s Local beta again. http://beta.local.yahoo.com/ca/san-jose/deals Apparently Google doesn’t want to be undone. Perhaps the one who builds the best mobile app wins?


    Linda Buquet
  17. @Linda @Kathy the “new” Yahoo pages have actually been around since November — Greg Sterling posted about them here:

    http://www.screenwerk.com/2010/11/22/the-new-very-different-yahoo-local/


    David Mihm
  18. Google just officially proclaimed the launch of the city pages:

    http://places.blogspot.com/2011/06/discover-new-local-gems-with-our-new.html

    And yes, it seems like Portland, Austin, Madison and San Diego are the only ones for now. I still wonder though when New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas are going to follow up.


    Nyagoslav
  19. Great scoop, Linda, and nice reportage, David. My first thought is that having your business start with the letter ‘A’ in one of these cities would be cool!

    I agree, the interface is slick. It’s got that Google cleanness I am such a longtime fan of. I think we are seeing something momentous happening with this.


    MiriamEllis
  20. Very interesting! I wonder how they will incorporate this with google places in the future. Additionally, with community features google can incorporate more ways to generate revenue.


    Shawn
  21. Hey, thanks for the update.

    Google is a SMART Company. I believe that Google is shifting from a Web Company to a Local Web Company, where it aims to provide very targeted & specific local business information to searchers, specially to mobile searchers.

    With the increasing number of Mobile Internet users, this shift in their business model is very obvious.

    Thanks again.


    Malik Merchant

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