No. 255
April 15th, 2009

Links of Local Interest, Volume 6

Millennium Bridge / Tate Modern by Yours Truly

Ever since Martijn’s brilliant guest post on European Citations a couple of months back and a question about Google Maps in Switzerland at my SES presentation in New York a couple weeks ago, I’ve gotten increasingly interested in how Local Search works outside the United States.  (And yes, I’m finally going to finish the Guide to International Citations later this month!)  

Continuing on with the European theme, I don’t even remember how I came across this, probably via Mike’s blog or Matt’s Delicious account, but Aleyda Solis has condensed almost every critical piece of Local Search writing from the last year into an easy-to-digest 20-part list.  It’s rare that I come across summary posts as good as this one.  And especially impressive that it came from a non-native English speaker (Aleyda lives in Salamanca, Spain–my next European holiday destination).

With absolutely no attempt at a segue, Matt McGee authored a concise, fabulous how-to guide for all you bloggers out there: How to use Twitter for Blog Content.  None of you has an excuse any longer that you don’t know what to write about.

Apparently, though, not everyone “gets” Twitter, even (or perhaps especially) well-credentialed folks from well-respected places of higher learning like the Harvard Business School.  In what has to be one of the most ignorant blog posts I’ve ever read, Tom Davenport (btw nice Title Tag, Tom) lays out a case that attempts to marginalize Twitter’s utility as a marketing tool.  One particularly egregious quote:

Still, I couldn’t imagine which customers would decide to follow Welch’s tweets about its grape juice and other associated products. The busy moms who form Welch’s core customers? I don’t think so.

Actually, Tom, there are plenty of brands who are doing something awfully similar, to great effect.  The Mommy Blogger crowd is INCREDIBLY powerful and guess what–they’re almost all on Twitter.  JetBlue, Southwest, Starbucks, Whole Foods and even boring ol’ H&R Block are just a few of the major brands who have figured out how to use Twitter successfully…wonder what the ROI is on a few interns to listen to and answer Tweets all day…?  

If I’d shelled out the $50K a year for HBS, I’d ask for a refund.

But ignorance from people in high places is not limited to Twitter.  Eric Lander writes a great rant about the poor Local SEO advice given by Entrepreneur Magazine last month.  

Perhaps this particular instance of ignorance can be partly explained by Google’s lack of outreach not only to small business owners about the Local Business Center but even to fairly “savvy” marketers like Kim Gordon, who wrote the offending article.

Google DOES occasionally reach out to small business owners directly, though, as they did last month at the National Main Street Conference in Chicago.  They even created a custom page for folks who attended the show helping them get started with the LBC, and it looks like at least one smallish town in Illinois (Hi Peoria!) is doing its best to take Google’s message and run with it.

Those of us in the Local Search space criticize Google Maps quite a bit.  Mostly justifiably, in my opinion. But for all its flaws it remains a powerful marketing tool for small business owners without a lot of resources, financial or otherwise, to compete with national chains and big box retailers on a more-or-less even footing.  And the folks working on the Maps team, while understaffed from powers above, are incredibly diligent and smart people who have their hearts in the right place.

Eric, Carter, Joel, Jen — this is a great first step.  I think we’d all LOVE to see you guys doing more of this!  Keep up the good work.  😀