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January 15, 2007


Peter Cranstone

Local search is the future. Search should be relevant, it should be contextual and it should be "where I am right now". The technical problem is "how?". Where are the tools? For instance - I'm using a Pocket PC running Windows Mobile. I've just landed in SFO and I'm searching for Italian Restaurants. How does the search engine know Who I am (Male vs. Female) how does it know the device I'm on (bandwidth connection, screen DPI, screen orientation) and finally Where I am?.

I have a GPS device in my PocketPC why can't I transmit the data to the search engine (or local newspaper) and them give me better results.

Local search is about "Where am I right now". The key to a better customer experience is finding the tools for the content providers to deliver on this.



Jim Norton

I have to agree that local newspapers have the info, but don't have the search presence to get it out there. Today for lunch I went to Google maps and found their address information on the restaurant was a year out of date. Zwillow is almost 10 years out of date on my suburb of Milwaukee. Slick site, but useless.

On the other hand newspapers are historically poor innovators. They have to get the news right the first time so that is the way they look at everything else. They have no idea that there wouldn't be a MAC or an iPod without the failure of LISA.

Yes, newspapers could win at this, but I don't see them changing. That opens up a whole new business opportunity for somebody.

David Armstrong

The one thing I think newspapers have over any other source is that the people that write, post and review things...actually live there. There is no better information. I think that major proprietary technology investments are what scares them and are not the answer. If newspapers "socialized" using basic Wiki principals, distributed via common methods (email/RSS) and had contexual based ads served with some SPAM control like adwords, it would flip over pretty quick.

Kyle Bunch

Don --

Mark Cuban did a similarly-themed post on this about a month ago -- in case you missed it:

Definitely think you are both onto something; just wonder (having limited experience in the newspaper world, mostly through my dad who worked there for years) how long it will take them to adapt their operations and put the appropriate technology and people in place to make it all happen.


I think newspapers' problems are more fundamental than them just neglecting to SEO their local info pages. They are not adapting to contemporary business models, and the failure to adapt is holding them back. I think you're saying the same thing, essentially -- that perhaps their lack of SEO is a symptom of their failure to think globally.

Doug Karr

Your key point here that I absolutely agree with is "The local newspapers are in a great position to own it...but they don't." This extends well beyond SEO.

Part of the issue is the corporatizing of newspapers. The Indianapolis Star, a Gannett Newspaper, has more AP and national news than local in each daily. Their newsroom is in a revolution right now, understaffed and overworked. Local art and theaters are vocally thrashing the Star for not covering local events that they once used to.

The problem is that large mergers have built with them the opportunity to cut costs and centralize operations. It's not just a web problem, it's a newspaper problem. Newspapers should absolutely own the market, but they choose not to. In Indy, we have a thriving business newspaper (IBJ - Indianapolis Business Journal), a great local business show (Inside Indiana Business), an alternative paper - NUVO.

Rather than competing with them on quality, the Star is killing them through cutting costs... and in turn, killing themselves.

Losing classifieds to Craig's List and eBay is no different. Newspapers had the option to invest and maintain their classified revenue (which was incredibly profitable). Rather than cut into their profit though, they lost it altogether.

I love newspapers, so this type of self-destruction saddens me.

Warmest Regards,

David Baldwick

i think local sites and magazine do this best as they are the ones on the ground in that area there is wyndham pages in our area http://www.wyndhampages.com.au/ and it has great results and local articles

Monte Huebsch

The only way local search will ever work is as a WIKI. SME's change location or contact details every 2 to 3 years. They need to take responsibilty and update their listing in WIKI based directories that are free, indexed and useful. With advertising supported sites this must be completely free. Google has sent the benchmark with MAPS but organic listed directories should be considered. Comments?

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