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MIHMORANDUM
No. 1365
February 22nd, 2012


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The Local Search Ecosystem in 2012

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.