Local Traffic “Diversion” — Google Claims It’s A Bug, Yelp Says It’s Intentional

Local search represents between 30 and 40 percent of mobile search results. Local is critical for consumers and represents billions in annual ad spending. And it’s a high-stakes area for all the companies involved in serving or selling to local businesses.
Over the weekend, the following exchange took place on Twitter regarding Google’s local search results:

The problem identified in the above Twitter conversion is that for some local navigational searches (e.g., “TripAdvisor, Hilton”) on mobile devices, Google is not showing the “intended result” and instead is showing its Local OneBox at the top of results.
After this exchange and a subsequent article, Google described what happened as a “bug.” Yelp, by contrast, sees intentional behavior. I spoke to Yelp at some length about this today.
Yelp asserts that one of the ways that Google identifies local-intent searches is through so-called “co-occurrence signals” (Google’s term) — essentially searches that yield Yelp or ZocDoc or TripAdvisor or other local results. Yelp claims

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Google Goes After The App Interstitial: Protecting Consumers Or Its Own Search Monopoly?

In 2010, Steve Jobs made a prescient observation: When it comes to accessing information on smartphones, people strongly prefer apps over mobile browsers.

A point Jobs left unsaid — perhaps because it is so obvious — was that in order for consumers to enjoy the advantageous experience apps provide them, they need to know the app exists. In other words, those apps must be somehow discoverable.
While many users find apps by browsing inside an app store, another critical way they discover new apps is through mobile search engines, like Google. In this way, mobile search indeed serves a critical function to users: offering a bridge from the less desirable world of mobile Web browsing to a new world inside apps.
Apps Threaten Google’s Search Business
After users cross the bridge from mobile Web to apps, they likely don’t go back. This presents an existential threat to Google’s core business of search, which envisions Google as the “middleman” for all information transactions

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Interview: Author Bill Tancer On The Search Impact Of Reviews

Mark Traphagen interviews Bill Tancer
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bill Tancer, author of Everyone’s a Critic, at the SMX West 2015 conference where he delivered the keynote. We spoke about the importance of online reviews to search marketers, based on the extensive research he did for Everyone’s a Critic.
Tancer is the General Manager for Global Research at Experian Marketing Services. His first book, Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters, was a New York Times bestseller.
His expertise about consumer behavior online has made him a primary source for major publications and news media. (The following transcript was edited for brevity and clarity.)

Mark Traphagen: Let’s start with people, especially local businesses, who are concerned with organic search traffic first and foremost. What’s the relationship between reviews and organic search traffic?
Bill Tancer: In terms of local business — and this comes primarily from the Hitwise data set I discuss in Everyone’s a Critic — reviews are the conduit that gets people from search to

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WSJ: Yelp Seeking A Potential Buyer

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Yelp is working with investment bankers and has “been in touch with potential buyers” to explore a sale of the company. Yelp’s market cap is just under $3 billion with a sale potentially in the $3.5 billion range (or above) according to the publication.
The anonymous sources cited in the article said, however, that a “deal is not imminent.”
Prior to its IPO Google unsuccessfully tried to buy the company for more than $500 million. It would be interesting to see if Google gets involved in any bidding that could happen — if this is real.
In addition to Google, the usual suspects (e.g., Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook) as well as travel companies such as Priceline would potentially be suitors for the reviews company. Given Apple’s relationship with Yelp, I would imagine they would be a serious contender as well.
Last quarter Yelp reported revenues of $118.5 million. That represented 55 percent revenue growth; however investors were still disappointed by those results.

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