Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Google Local now with YouTube Video

Google Local silently launched a new feature today in providing a way for businesses to integrate video with their local business profiles.

This makes Google the only top-tier search engine to allow businesses to integrate video in their local business listings. While several 2nd tier local search destinations, such as SuperPages and CitySearch have provided video production and publication for some time; Google Local is focused on giving control to integrate the existing videos. This is similar to RelevantAds business profile. Because RelevantAds also syndicates business listings, videos will now be distributed to Google Local Business Profiles (announcement to follow).

The Google Local Businesses profile page allows for up to 5 YouTube videos to be integrated with the listing. Each video is verified and content approved (presumable to not allow banned or adult content) and retreivd from YouTube along with its title.

Perhaps the more impressive change with Google Local is that the video is shown on Google Local Business Profile within minutes. Previously, it would take several weeks for the Google Local index to be updated with any content changes.

Yahoo Local Enhanced Business Profile, which is a premium product, doesn't even allow for video integration. I would expect to see that upgrade in the months to come.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Google Local Drops Fixed Classification of Businesses

Today, Google Local has changed the way that local businesses are classified. The new method is a free-form text field that dynamically offers recommendations as well as allowing for a custom value to be entered.

This is a big change compared to the prior way that Google local categorized businesses, which was based upon a proprietary list of about 500 categories (12 top level and 500 sub-classification). The newly recommended choices are inclusive of the legacy list, but provide greater granularity in product and services classification.

Google Local search uses categories in two ways:
1) The category will be displayed under a business listing
2) A category can be explicitly searched such as
category: Attorneys Adoption, Divorce & Family Law

It will be interesting to see how this will impact Google Local search results. One major implication is keywords could effectively be given as categories, but that could change going forward. Based upon our historical analysis, a businesses category hasn't been shown to greatly impact the ranking of search results on Google Local as it does with Yahoo Local and many other search engines.

One call to action sure: if you already had your business in Google Local, it might be worthwhile to review or update the category classification.

David Rodecker
President, RelevantAds
“getting local business online"