Local Data is Worthless (Unless You Have a Community)

Backfence died because it was made obsolete by Google's relevancy algorithms and older local community sites. The commoditization of local data is only going to get worse. iBegin Source allows you to search or browse local business information for free, or buy an entire state for $1,000. Today Google announced they are allowing people to overlay mapplets, which will likely make Google the default source for local information inside of 2 years.

Published: July 11, 2007 by Aaron Wall in google


Justin Davy
July 11, 2007 - 4:03pm

I agree with the community aspect. Anyone off the street can develop a directory site like a yellow pages but building up community around it is the key.

Are you allowing your users to rank, discuss, write about topics and personalize? With companies like iBegin Source it makes it possible for the small guys to compete with Google in their respective local markets as long as they don't stop at the local data and instead build out communities around it.

July 11, 2007 - 4:34pm

Backfence died, not because of Google, but because their execution was horrible. There are multiple stories about how they missed simple things. One even claimed to be ready to spend $10,000 per month on advertising, but was never called back.

Having spent a lot of time in local (iBegin Source is a product of ours), local requires a lot more follow-through then most people are used to (thanks to email, IM, and social networks).

I sort of agree and sort of disagree about the commodotization of local data. Local is dirty - be it the business data, geocoding, or informal geodata. We are trying to do our part by making the core data simple and inexpensive, but that is just one part. It is how you use this data and build it out that will make your successful. I've seen some fo the stuff our customers are building, and it should do well - Google is not the be-all end-all in local.

Azhar A Malik
July 12, 2007 - 1:32am

I think leader utilization of the data is the key. If you are able to merge the user generated content (community) with expert professional reviews that will be the key. Different grids for measuring success.

Matthew Shuff
July 12, 2007 - 3:27pm

There is too much competition and too many choices for local directories and a lot of people just don't use them. Community is a key component to making a usable and valuable site that people will want to visit for information, but a true local directory can be moderately successful and beneficial if internal pages for companies and internal category pages show well in the SERPs. A lot can also depend on what a company is allowed to list in the directory (i.e. more content).

July 12, 2007 - 9:41pm

I think Google has the presence to greatly affect the local search area, but it is far to easy to say they will dominate in 2 years. People still buy paper maps and atlases as well as thumb through the phone book.

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