The Local Search Ecosystem in 2012

MIHMORANDUM NO. 1365 | February 22nd, 2012Reader Comments (55)

Amazingly, it’s been nearly two and a half years since I first published my Local Search Ecosystem infographic back in October 2009.  With the 2012 conference season kicking off in earnest with SearchFest on Friday and SMX West on Monday, I thought it was high time for an update.

All references for these sources are noted at the bottom of this page.

5/1/12 Update: My friends north of the border may be interested in this post detailing the Local Search Ecosystem in Canada

I’d like to think that the original graphic has stood the test of time pretty well…but there have definitely been some changes worth noting in the last 900 days or so:

The Rising Influence of Localeze

Pretty much every major local search player that’s come on the the scene in the last couple of years (Twitter, Facebook, Groupon, Siri) is incorporating Localeze business data in some fashion.  I could no longer find a public reference to Localeze on Superpages.com, as I did in 2009, but that seems to be the only significant directory that has moved away from Localeze.

The Waning Influence of Acxiom

I was not able to find any public evidence for Acxiom supplying Yahoo Local with data in 2012.  And in research on behalf of several clients in the fall/winter of 2011, it seemed pretty obvious to me that Google Places was not taking a feed from them any longer, either (if they ever were)…Places data was much more current than anything Acxiom had on file.

Those are two major losses for Acxiom.  They’re still marginally important because of their feeds to Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, and Yelp…but you should be verifying your information directly at those three sources anyway, since all three have extremely robust business portals of their own.

As a result of this decline, as well as Infogroup’s now-free ExpressUpdateUSA platform, it seems to me UBL’s core $39/year syndication product has lost a bit of value as well.  It’s unclear to me where else the third prong of their primary submission, Dun & Bradstreet, syndicates, beyond Manta.  They’re clearly trying to transition their business as well, as it’s hard to even find this core offering on their site unless you’re really looking for it :)

The Emergence of Google Map Maker

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Map Maker is now a major factor in data accuracy and trustworthiness in the black box of the Google Places cluster.  I’ve seen changes that I’ve initiated in Map Maker flow up to Places literally within a matter of hours.

The Twitter Places API

Have you looked at the Twitter Places API page recently?  Take a look at the wide range of sources they’re consolidating, if not.  Twitter may very well end up being the central hub for business/place data as the world goes more and more mobile…

The New Kids on the Block

Two new players have come on the scene as well, that I think are worth noting:

Yext
Is Yext a “Data Aggregator” in the classic sense of the word?  I’m not really sure if they fit the traditional definition, especially since their price point is so much higher than Infogroup’s free and Localeze’s basic listing, and to my knowledge they don’t maintain a native index of businesses who haven’t signed up with them.  They “only” have on the order of tens of thousands of businesses registered, and I still haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer from them on what their verification process looks like to weed out spam (their answer so far has been that their price point makes it cost-prohibitive for spammers to manipulate).

Those questions aside, they provide a valuable service for small businesses who have money-but-not-time–particularly NEW businesses without a strong existing NAP–and want to update their information quickly at some of the biggest players in the ecosystem.

And does the distinction as an “aggregator” even matter?  It’s still important to show them SOMEWHERE in this graphic, right?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

What about CityGrid?
A well-respected Local SEO mentioned to me last week that he’d seen evidence of CityGrid data flowing into Places so rapidly that he thought it indicated possible evidence of a direct feed.  Certainly they have some sort of partnership with Bing given the public prominence of their reviews in Bing search results…there’s the data-sharing deal with Infogroup that happened last summer…and they have a ton of their own IAC properties like UrbanSpoon and InsiderPages.  They’re a bigtime player and may end up becoming the leader of the “Anybody-but-Google” Local Search party.

Whither the Open-Source Guys?

There are any number of open-source, or quasi-open-source database players out there — Factual, Locationary, SimpleGeo (now owned by Urban Airship) — but thus far I have not seen any evidence of their data flowing up into Google Places either.  But as mobile app developers increasingly look for free/cheap baseline data sources to build their businesses on, keep an eye on those guys.

And finally, I regret that I even have to say this, but:

Please respect my intellectual property and do not reproduce this graphic without my permission.  This graphic represents several dozen hours of research, design, and layout.  You are more than welcome to link to the original on GetListed.org, but please, don’t rip it off and republish it elsewhere on the web.  So far, I’ve not turned anyone down who’s asked permission to use it in a presentation to small business owners or other search professionals.

55 Responses to “The Local Search Ecosystem in 2012”

  1. George Murphy says at

    A great resource David, thanks for sharing.

    I’m curious- why don’t you make this an infographic kind of setup where you have an embed code below it that people can copy and paste to use on their site, and in exchange you get more links to the Getlisted site?

  2. Dana DiTomaso says at

    Great resource yet again, thank you! Are you planning one for Canada? If not, I’ll take a crack at it. Although frankly, it’ll be a little anemic.

  3. David Mihm says at

    Hi George,
    I would prefer that people come across it in its native environment in the GetListed.org Resource area rather than on third-party blogs. I realize this runs counter to most best practices for spreading something via social media.

    Dana, yes, I’m planning one for Canada. Got a start on it anyway. Will release in time for our Local U in Edmonton on May 1 (http://getlisted.org/university/edmonton.aspx).

  4. Brent Rangen says at

    I am going to monitor links and social link shares to this page, I have a feeling it is going to be HUGE!!

    Great resource!

  5. Justin Sous says at

    Great update to the infographic, David! Your research is greatly appreciated and gives us SEMs a fighting chance against the incorrect information around the web that gets sucked into Google Places.

    It looks like there are a few more new players that I need to look into as well like traVidia, nSphere, and thumbtack.

  6. Jeremy says at

    Dave, thanks for doing the research and presenting this.

  7. Jim Rudnick says at

    As usual, David…Spot-ON! #Kudos…now to see if these old eyes can track and formulate a strategy based on Google’s MapMaker – a big part of our SEO Experts online Skype group each day (as you know!) is spent on formulating exactly that kind of bottom-up strategy! Hmm…gotta print this out maybe for more study….sigh, there goes the weekend, eh! :-)

  8. Eric Vreeland says at

    Hey David,

    Great infographic! There definitely have been a lot of changes in the local search ecosystem, and this lays it out very nicely.

    I just wanted to answer some of your questions re: Yext.

    There are a couple of differences between Yext and traditional aggregators. The first of these is that our product makes updating enhanced fields like photographs, videos, special offers, etc. just as easy as updating NAP information. Secondly, we provide full impression and click tracking data back to the small business customers so they can see the exact stats on what’s happening to their listing. Lastly, Yext PowerListings get updated much much quicker than listings updated with traditional aggregator data. The majority of our partners update instantly! You can see the exact speed that it takes to update a specific partner on our website. Check out the features table here http://www.yext.com/packages-complete.html if you are interested.

    In response to spam avoidance, right now our best deterrent is price, and we have seen very few instances of spam attempts. We are, however, working on some improvements on this front so stay tuned.

    Thanks again for the great infographic.

  9. Linda Buquet says at

    Major kudos David on another amazing resource that will help the entire industry.

    My brain hurts just thinking about what it took to pull this together into a graphic that works!

  10. Jason says at

    Very good diagram and breakdown on local business information sources. I really liked how you explained the differences between your prior chart. I’ll keep an eye on Citygrid, Yext and Twitter. Best of luck at Search Fest and SMX West.

  11. Jacob Puhl says at

    Hey David,

    How do you want us to go about getting your permission to use the graphic in presentations?

  12. David Mihm says at

    Jacob, feel free to email me – davidmihm@gmail.com – I’m not hard to get ahold of :)

    Jim, Justin, Brent, Linda and Jason, thanks so much for the kind words and for stopping by.

    Eric, I’m very familiar with Yext’s service (as, I think, are most of my readers). I think the main difference between you guys and the traditional aggregators are speed (good), cost (bad), and reach/userbase (TBD). :D

  13. Mike Ramsey says at

    Great work David. Lots more pretty pictures and arrows on this one. Especially pointing directly at Places. This is going to look great on my website with a big Nifty logo on it. Just kidding. :-)

    Seriously though, this is my favorite way to explain how local works. Brilliant piece.

  14. David Mihm says at

    Nifty–I know that was tongue-in-cheek given the source but there are a couple of companies that I won’t mention (yet?) that did just that with the last one. :)

  15. Chris Reilly says at

    David,

    Great work as usual. We have submitted many, many feeds to Citygrid and can say for sure that they seem to have a tight relationship with G… We think it pushes straight to the mapping database faster than editorial content gets incorporated. Their use of Facebook Connect has bumped their review count considerably and the old review feed is still very alive and well from what we can tell, as different places designs are tested citysearch and urbanspoon are always in the mix.

    Their network had been brutalized by Panda, local algo changes and new serps designs such that their inventory from organic search is way down from what we can tell. Without that, I’m not very bullish on their ad products. We pulled a lot of clients away from them towards adwords as the quality just didn’t work for our clients.

  16. Jackson Lo says at

    Thanks for the update David! Several dozen hours? How much is several? ;)

    This is a great infographic that I refer to all the time when explaining how the local search ecosystem works for my clients. Just a food for thought, do you think this infographic could be produced and ordered as a office decoration? :) I think many of us local SEO’s would love to have this hanging in our offices.

    Cheers!

  17. Justin Michael says at

    Fantastic work David.

    This is an impressive amount of data analysis and curation. I notice as the local space race becomes more crowded/fragmented, the updated ecosystem chart becomes more complex, as a corollary. At what point will the space be forced to simplify? This is a lot like divergence versus convergence, the debate that has gone on since time immemorial in regards to technology itself. Do you believe a new technology or new major player will either swoop up all the portals or allow for increased fracture? Much like Steve Jobs revolutionized the music business by creating one central marketplace for mp3s with iTunes, perhaps one platform could interface with all of them instead of just select APIs. This begs the question of an open identity system net wide, but I’m extrapolating this to LOCAL.

    I also notice you mention price in UBL’s core syndication product as a potential issue and then again in your comment toward the price of Yext. Since listing a business in every portal in the above chart in and of itself could take several dozens of hours in and of itself, including the cost to pay for services like Angie’s List (not all the above listing sites in the graphic are free), wouldn’t it make sense that there would be a higher cost associated with these kind of services, if performed expertly? I think Local Search Optimization (LSO) as new emerging category under the umbrella of SEO done by a competent firm, is worth its weight in gold, especially for business owners that do not wish to understand these relationships in depth or scratch the surface of such an abstruse matrix of interlinking sites.

    It’s really formidable and wonderful that you’ve created this and I’m excited to see subsequent iterations.

  18. Sam says at

    Kind of funny after reading this article, I thought I’d check out Yext, as it’s been awhile since I’ve visited there site. Namely, I agree, they are WAY too expensive, that is why I’ve never used them and I still get good results with my clients.
    So, anyway, I went to go look at their site and it’s down at the moment, lol. Maybe your article posted made us all go take a double look at their prices and crashed their website.

  19. Matt McGee says at

    Hey, some guy named Blumenthal has already lifted your infographic and posted it on his blog! I don’t know if he got permission or not, so just passing it along. Here’s his link:

    http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/02/22/david-mihms-updated-local-search-ecosystem-infographic/

    Some guy named McGee is gonna post it on his blog soon, too, from what I understand. ;-)

  20. Petra says at

    Great distribution! Thank you for your insight knowledge which you share with us.

    Can I dare to ask – is there any chance we will see this kind of ecosystem for Europe, too? Propably too difficult because of the many countries …

  21. Asim says at

    Hello David
    the Eco-system infographic is very informative.
    may i suggest some of my own findings?
    An easy and free way to get listed in D&B is http://www.allbusiness.com/2984939-1.html
    This one is also a data agregator for geo and local directories http://www.ibegin.com/

  22. Mark says at

    David, you are a true Local Marketing guru, and your hard work is truly appreciated by many of us here in the UK. I have a working spreadsheet with some of this info on, but this goes further to defrag the data that I and others have and currently read about on local blogs/news sites.

    Cheers again!

  23. Dev Basu says at

    That’s a pretty sweet update David. Gonna print this out and stick on the Powered by Search office wall.

  24. Matthew Hunt says at

    David,

    Nice work here. We need a Canadian version. This infographic is going to my team for training.

    Over time we just like to submit by hand on each of these listings and claim them with client’s branded website’s email. I used to use things like UBL, etc but every time we use a feed service I’m always disappointed. It also doesn’t clean up duplicate listing in these feeds. Often small business info is listed multiple times in each vertical with slightly different info causing all kinds of problems back at GP. We have found there is no quick fix to this, but to submit by hand. Yext is also doing some interesting things, by offering more value then just a general submit for some of the top verticals.

  25. Dave says at

    David,

    Great graphic. One interesting thing about Yext Power Listings to me ( besides the cost) is that Yelp is basically blocking them. I say this because you can’t use power listings if you have claimed your Yelp listing or if you have more than 4 locations. My assumption is that this is a Yelp decision and that Yext is working on it. But for now it does reduce some value in the Yelp “heavy” verticals.

    Dave

  26. Jeffrey says at

    David, Would you now recommend submitting a local business to Localeze instead of UBL? I’m under the impression that Localeze is really going for the chains that have at least 100 locations. Is their free listing for mom & pops really providing great value? I find the localeze website to be a maze of redundant content with no clear pricing or concise product offering for moms & pops. I was a fan of UBL and I thought they were a genuinely professional outfit but recently I saw them get skewered on warriorforum. Now your comments. Can you elaborate on what you’d recommend us to do for our local clients?

  27. Chris Gregory says at

    Thanks for your hard work on this David. One thing about Yext that is worth mentioning: if one of the partner sites has their own listing which has been taken ownership of then that data takes precedence.

    For instance if a customer has taken ownership of their Superpages.com listing and has changed the data in anyway then Yext’s import will not overwrite this.

    Also, it seems Yext has inked a deal with Bing Local. It’s not official yet but you might keep the ink on that graphic warm.

    Chris

  28. Paula Keller says at

    David,

    Super excited over here to see this refreshed! We often reference this map internally to illustrate to our team the importance of what we do over here at Search Influence.

    Thanks for taking the time to update it and making it freely available to all of us.

    Have a great time at the upcoming conferences!

  29. Yam Regev says at

    Like the last one, David, you’ve nailed it again. So interesting!

    A huge data providers that missing here are all the 411 listings distributes (not the online ones). They have a great amount of info of businesses & giving their data directly to Google Places & YelloPages.com (& from here it’s been distributed to all the other directories as shown in your graphics) BTW, because of that you might find 2 Google Places listings of the same business as 411s providing the info to Google Places & YPs, YPs are feeding Google Places..

    And another BTW is that this is a great technique for spammers (you know from which industry) to work around the Categories barrier in Google Places as listings that come from 411s will always have your desired category.

    my 2.5 cents.

  30. Mike. says at

    thanks to the map i found this page :-) and have to say thanks for the nice map. what i dind`t see in the map is the influence for the other social network..whats its name… google+?
    and like Petra and requested before – would be nice 2 have that also for the other markets like uk/au and europe ;-) its a bit different there.

  31. Doug says at

    David – I am working with small business owners here in Northern VA and would like to use your graphic in my discussions with them. It is a very effective one page over view of the complex Internet community that everyone needs to be aware of and participate in. How can I obtain your permission for it’s use?
    Thank you – Doug

  32. David Mihm says at

    Doug,
    Thanks for asking permission. Definitely approved as long as you use it with full attribution to GetListed.org (including our logo).

    Thanks!

    David

  33. Kristi Hines says at

    Awesome information, especially since I am working on marketing for my husband’s wedding photography business! Would it be possible to use the local search ecosystem graphic in blog posts when I write about local search with links back to Get Listed and your site?

  34. Kelly Marsh says at

    So which would you suggest a local SEO uses for their clients?

    Localeze Re-seller program

    or

    Yext Re-seller program

    This would be a great blog post topic for tools for local SEO’s with a detailed explanation.

    Thanks in advance!

  35. Mike says at

    Awesome work! Love seeing the flow and understanding how some of these smaller directories work.
    Thanks!

  36. Troy peterson says at

    Great graphic that shows the complexity and the ever changing nature of the local search ecosystem!

  37. SuperMike says at

    Thanks for the fantastic infographic. I looks like a lot of time went into this project. A lot of us out here in cyberland appreciate your efforts.

  38. Blaine Sato says at

    In response to Dana DiTomaso’s inquiry on Feb 22nd, I’ve been keenly awaiting a Canadian rendition of the above infographic. My reminder went off today to revisit this, since you’re doing Local University in Edmonton (wish I could make it!).

    I did get some value from this US version, but through a big local SEO campaign I’m doing for a client right now I’ve crossed off several citation sources as “US Only” and finding reputable Canadian sources is proving to be quite a bit of guess work. Having validation on which sites are worth the effort from an industry pro like yourself would be incredibly valuable.

    Any other Canadians finding the same thing? Have any insight / resources to share? And David, you’re a busy man, but I’m curious if the Canadian version is still in the works. Thanks for all you do!

  39. Eric Miltsch says at

    Excellent overview – great research.

    Would like to use the graphic for an LBS presentation I’m doing for the automotive segment to further illustrate the importance of local search optimization.

    Thanks!

  40. David Mihm says at

    Eric,
    Thanks for asking. That kind of usage is approved; please replicate the graphic in its entirety.

    Best,
    David

  41. Kat Taylor says at

    David,

    I’m interested in your suggestion to Kelly’s question above:

    Which would you suggest a local SEO uses for their clients?

    Localeze Re-seller program

    or

    Yext Re-seller program

    Thanks!

  42. David Mihm says at

    Hi Kat,
    Localeze and Yext are fundamentally different propositions. Localeze and Infogroup are essential to long-term success in Local. Yext should be used for

    a) only AFTER claiming your listing at ExpressUpdateUSA and Localeze
    b) businesses just getting started in both the online and offline world OR
    b-2) businesses who need an immediate boost to their citation profile & don’t have time or expertise to claim listings across the rest of the ecosystem

    Hope that helps

    David

  43. Kat Taylor says at

    David,

    This information is very helpful. Our clients fall into b-2 – they don’t have the time and expertise to claim their listings. We’ve been using UBL’s services to get clients listed but the confusing part is this: how critical is it to actually claim the listing once it’s published and is this something we, as a company, should do on behalf of our client? I’m new to this and want to be sure we do what is right for the local business. Claiming is the time consuming part, for sure! It’s hard enough getting the Google and Bing pin numbers from the client.

    Thanks again for your guidance,
    Kat

  44. SuperMike says at

    David,

    I feel compelled to let you know how useful this info-graphic has been to me and my clients. I’m not a SEO pro, but I am a novice with a “day job” doing the SEO-thing on the side. I have this info-graphic bookmarked and I refer to it at least 3 times a week.

    I wish I had something more insightful to add to the discussion, but I guess I just wanted to say thanks.

    Cheers from San Diego, California USA

  45. Grady Sibert says at

    David,

    Amazing work! Trying to keep the local search landscape clear in our own heads is daunting enough, let alone trying to explain it to lay people (clients) who think it’s as simple as responding to an email that guarantees #1 google ranking for xx dollars.

    Your infographic is a welcome addition to the global knowledge base :)

  46. Mollie says at

    Hi David,

    Great work! This is such an informative piece. Would you please give me the permission to add this to our website? I’m currently creating a page on Local SEO and this would be the best graphic for it. Please let me know if it’s ok.

    Thanks!

    Mollie Benton
    SiteBumpers.com

  47. Pete says at

    Hey guys,
    I’m curious to know … Does the listing information from a manually claimed listing get sent to the data aggregators (InfoGroup, Localeze, Axciom), or is that something that is only accomplished once a listing is submitted through a distribution source such as UBL?

    David, this is an awesome and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Props toyou to taking on this beast!

  48. Seth K says at

    David,

    I am doing a short presentation to small business owners in August and would like to showcase this graphic of the ecosystem. Hoping for permission to use this in a PowerPoint slide.
    Thank you in advance!

    Seth

  49. David Mihm says at

    Hi Seth,
    Sure thing, thanks for asking.

  50. Seth K says at

    Thanks again, David.

  51. Sunil Datar says at

    Great Post to understand the Local search Ecosystem .

    I will get a print of this as a backup Important information on SEARCH engines and local search.

    Thanks again.

    Sunil datar

  52. Gautam Naryanan says at

    I am trying to rank in Google UK Local but there is so much of competition . I have more citations more reviews but still my listing is not in top 7 can you give me a reason for that.

  53. Patrick McCoy says at

    As a leading Moz member, I found your article and infographic from a recent article (http://moz.com/ugc/a-beginners-guide-to-small-budget-local-clients) and have to say I’m impressed! I’ll be contacting you to request permission to utilize in a presentation about local search I’m working on.

    Now that it is 2014, do you see this infographic being updated or is it still pretty relevant and accurate for the most part?

    Thanks for creating such a valuable and useful item for us SEO marketers! – Patrick

  54. Samantha says at

    Wow David, great resource. Local SEO is how us little people compete with the big brands.

  55. master resell rights says at

    I_m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!

    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future.
    Many thanks

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