Having been in the local search space since 1999
, I have seen a lot of different attempts by many companies to take advantage of this local land grab, with almost all of them under performing. That said, I think Google's latest efforts
seem to be just another attempt to solve this local search market with the completely wrong approach. There was even an interesting article on the big Google local SMB plan in the WSJ
recently that shows me they have even more plans to go in the wrong direction.
I'll keep my opinions very simple.
1) Local needs to happen locally.
It can't happen online or with call centers in India or even Indiana. The best approach is the face to face relationship with the business, period. Groupon, who was locally hot for a while is now slipping
, and its because you need that local relationship to work through problems and find solutions.
2) Local has to start with the website
, as that is the foundation of a business's online presence. Most local businesses don't even have a website, let alone have a good site worthy of driving traffic to for revenue generation. Check out this recent article
about half of the nations independent restaurants not having a website and 40% of those that do don't even have the menu on there. Again, no website, and those that do have sites, a number of them are bad. In fact, most of them don't even have their phone number on them
. How will Google Succeed?
If Google wants to succeed in the local SMB space they need to do a few things. The first is to adopt the same approach national TV stations have, with a local affiliate in each market, to sell websites and all of Google's internet marketing solutions. Then Google needs to use their brand strength and focus their online energy on education of this SMB & Local space to support their local affiliates. If they take this approach, they will succeed.
Finally, Googlers, if you are reading this, all I ask for is the Indianapolis market to start this project off.