Recently database firm Implied Intelligence (as reported by Greg Sterling) conducted an observational study to see which of the Local Search sites had the most, best data. As part of the study, they looked at not only the Local Search foundations of Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP), they also looked at some of the visibility or presence as well as any expanded data. At the end of the day, they determined that the major Internet Yellow Pages sites provided the highest level of data accuracy – here are the results:
3. Google Maps
I love studies like these – they are great general indicators of who’s doing well in the space in terms of systems, data integration, database merges – all parts of the equation we fight every day when we’re assembling local search feeds for our clients, but that’s our job. And while these are very useful for us (or any agency who’s working through local listings issues in terms of formulating operational strategies and approaches), if you’re a small business owner, a large business owner, responsible for a franchise network or anything to do with an actual listing, studies such as this are the right answer to the wrong question.
If you are that person, or just find yourself in that position, the first important question to ask is, “Where are people looking for me?”
While Internet Yellow Pages sites have a contentious history with 3rd party audience reporting (they rely on a large portion of their eyeballs coming from white labels and partnerships), the overall trend for SuperPages.com has been downward, shedding 33% of their “observed” unique visitors over the past year (down from approximately 16.8 mm uniques in March, 2011 to 11.8 mm uniques in March, 2012 based on Compete.com data). YellowPages.com shows a different trend, though, rising from 21.7 mm uniques in March, 2011 to 28 mm uniques in March, 2012 – around 33% growth. That doesn’t suck. Those sites are number one and number two on the accuracy list. Number 3 Google Maps ranged between 35 mm and 37 mm uniques in that same time frame – and this is the subdomain that deals only with maps. This doesn’t factor in the main Google domain (176 mm uniques last month) where the search results are localized if at all possible, providing essentially the same data as in maps.
The net result of this analysis? IYPs are important places to make sure your data is right, but the necessity and opportunity lie elsewhere. If your listings are wrong on Google, or you don’t have expanded information on Google, then that’s going to impact your business more from sheer visibility potential. Factor in that “free listings” on IYPs live well beneath the fold for most significant commercial headings, that any errors will be corrected on IYPs will be corrected with a good fundamental feed program, and it becomes obvious that every business interested in local search should be focusing heavily on Google, where the information is universally spottier, where there are many more chefs monkeying with the recipe on a regular basis, and where there are a lot more eyeballs.