free html hit counter Finding a Yogurt Shop A Mile Away: I'm Not Feeling Lucky. - John Battelle's Search Blog

Finding a Yogurt Shop A Mile Away: I'm Not Feeling Lucky.

By - August 19, 2010

I don’t know about you guys, but I see way too much of this when I search Google lately.

Tonight I was looking for a particular frozen yogurt shop in Edgartown, which is a town on the island where my family has spent portions of the summer for the past 100 or so years. This was a relatively new shop, but not that new.

Anyway, we forgot the name, so I Googled “yogurt edgartown.”

Here’s what I got:

Screen shot 2010-08-19 at 8.48.05 PM.png

OK, none of the local results are even on the island, much less in Edgartown. So strike one.

I’m familiar with the first result below the map, but that’s not the place I mean. Strike two.

The third result is clearly some kind of aggregator, but maybe they have an up to date directory I can look at. It’s called “American Towns.” I’ve never heard of it. Do I trust it? I dunno, maybe. So I click.

I get this:

Screen shot 2010-08-19 at 8.52.45 PM.png

Look at that for a minute. There’s exactly ONE “organic” result on that page, and by the way, it’s not what I’m looking for. The rest are ads that in no way help me.

This is not an unusual result for me lately. How about you? When it comes to finding places via Google, I’m not really feeling lucky anymore. Any suggestions as to what I should have done to find that yogurt shop?

Wait, I have an idea. What if Foursquare or Facebook had Places search? Man, that’d be great! I could search for yogurt shops in Edgartown, and I bet, without a doubt, I could find what I’m looking for. Do they? Nope. Should they? Yep.

Just saying.


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40 thoughts on “Finding a Yogurt Shop A Mile Away: I'm Not Feeling Lucky.

  1. Cameron says:

    Yelp.com

  2. Cem says:

    Also available: Yahoo! Search

  3. John says:

    john,

    what was the place you were actually looking for?

  4. kamal Jain says:

    Try Bing!

  5. Hippy Hop says:

    Google is not to be used for finding places as they only search for text on the web pages. There are sites that do this for you, but to find the exact place you want, that place must be included in the site’s database. If that place is not yet listed, you won’t find it anywhere in the internet.

  6. Cory O'Brien says:

    Trying to find a place through Google has been really hit or miss for me. If you know enough about the place, but just can’t remember the address, then you can usually get what you need, but like you pointed out, when you just have a vague idea of what you’re looking for and a category, there’s a lot of ‘fluff’ in the results, and high ranking results that are just filled with spam and crappy re-links. Not sure how those sites managed to crack the Google code, but they must be making a pretty good amount of coin doing it, because there are a ton of copy-cat sites out there that are pretty much all just different looking versions of the same crappy thing. Let’s just hope there’s an algorithm update in the near future that addresses this problem.

  7. Dale‎y says:

    I’m an expat living in Berlin, and all of the search engines are basically useless to me for local search. Maybe shops here change or go out of business too often, but on more than one occasion I’ve been directed miles out of my way to a shop that didn’t exist anymore. Plus just finding a something like a decent restaurant close by is pointless. Too much noise in the results.

    I ended up finding a specialized iphone app specific to Berlin. Works great, uses my location, gives me quick reviews and tells me exactly how far away the place is. Only has restaurants, stores, clubs, etc, but its enough for me and so much better.

    No spammy ad ridden results either.

  8. marry says:

    If you know enough about the place, but just can’t remember the address, then you can usually get what you need, but like you pointed out, when you just have a vague idea of what you’re looking for and a category, there’s a lot of ‘fluff’ in the results, and high ranking results that are just filled with spam and crappy re-links. Not sure how those sites managed to crack the Google code, but they must be making a pretty good amount of coin doing it, because there are a ton of copy-cat sites out there that are pretty much all just different looking versions of the same crappy thing.

  9. You want yogurt. Google wants money. Sellers want to come in your range. nobody wins. :(

    these days, content farms with lots of google ads on the page is all I see when I search for something specific.

    what facebook and foursquare will do is shift the onus of the listing from the business to the consumer, thus making sure more relevant and up to date info is shown to you, something like crowdsourcing the building of this directory. that would be helpful for all. except google. and the businesses.

  10. Greg says:

    Yelp!

  11. One of the problems is that many, perhaps even most, small businesses don’t make the effort to properly set themselves up for search. That place should have a website, and a FB page and work to get indexed by Google…for a small investment of time and money, they would have been found by you quickly, and you would have been completely satisfied!

  12. Matt Cutts says:

    What was the place you were looking for, John? We’re discussing this internally and wanted to know which yogurt place we missed.

  13. John says:

    Hey Matt (and others) – Am embarrassed to say we don’t know. My wife and kids went there last night but it was closed and they can’t remember the name. I have not had a chance to go back today.

  14. Joseph says:

    Agree with a lot of stuff you say. But it’s hardly Google’s fault that the yogurt shop you were looking for isn’t mentioned in Google places. The shop should have taken the effort to list themselves on Google Places. (I guess it would have helped if you knew the name of the shop, though.)

  15. http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=yogurt&find_loc=edgartown,+ma

    If you zoom in one the map one notch, it re-does the search. Is that what you’re looking for?

    Google Maps has been hit-or-miss for me for years, especially since I know Yelp tends to work really well. their map searching interface is way under-praised. :)

    NB: I briefly worked for Yelp back in ’06.

  16. Matt Cutts says:

    The current working theory is that you were looking for Tisberry? Is this the place: http://www.plumtv.com/videos/in-the-know-tisberry/index.html

    Sounds like it only opened in July 2010, so that’s a good reason why we might not have much information on it yet.

  17. Sean McGinnsi says:

    Sometimes little tweaks make all the difference.

    By searching for “frozen yogurt edgartown, MA” I get a different list, including a #1 result for “Ice Cream & Candy Bazaar” on Dock street in Edgartown. Could that have been the one you were looking for?

  18. John says:

    Yes, I think that is it. We’ve deduced as much. It’s the only organic result buried in the “American Towns” spam, er, ad covered site, so they must have gotten it right. Tisberry is in Vineyard Haven, a good ten miles away…

  19. Shaun Robert says:

    I go to google maps first and execute searches. Is this better:

    http://goo.gl/maps/t8iT

  20. raheel says:

    another kick in the kidney for search as one platform?

    two words: co-specialised search. i think the value-chain for search just got blown wide open.

    forget foursquare and their biggest signup bump via fb. their biggest windfall is when google comes a- knockin’ for their firehose. and they will

    are we beginning to see search open?

  21. John says:

    Turns out, the place is called Vineyardberry. It’s not in any directory. Just saw it last night…closes at 9 pm.

  22. Stan Thow says:

    Why don’t you telephone the local or closest Tourist Office. Why aggravate yourself.

  23. Stan Thow says:

    Try your local Tourist office.
    you might get lucky.

    Try your local Tourist Office.
    or Call the Local Newspaper office.
    You might get lucky.

  24. taobaoke says:

    two words: co-specialised search. i think the value-chain for search just got blown wide open.

  25. viscaheel says:

    Does anyone on this blog have to guts to tell John the truth?

    John, you are a smart person but the thing you do that is hard to swallow is that you project features and business models onto services and companies that have no business being together. Foursquare is a crappy check-in service. It is to broadcast your location to your friends. Period. it’s not nor will it EVER be a search engine.

  26. Simon says:

    I know it’s not the place and time to do it here, but i’ve just read the book Search, how G… and i want MORE. Any more books of this kinda a topics?

  27. Rob says:

    I’ve always found Yelp and/or Yahoo good for this…

  28. Very interesting example on multiple levels.

    The failure to list the actual shop isn’t necessarily disturbing — after all, the shop is relatively new, and even Google is going to miss the mark occasionally. Even if the shop has its own website or Facebook page, no one would be linking to it yet, so their standard approach is going to fail.

    But, this example shows two much more significant problems.

    First, why are they listing a directory page that’s filled with ads, and offers little or no “real” content so high in the results? This can’t be considered a “quality” information resource by any stretch of the imagination.

    Second, why are they mapping so many supposedly “local” search results that aren’t in Edgarton, including a DunkinDonuts — a chain that isn’t exactly famous for yogurt.

  29. Basil Enan says:

    IMO Google isn’t very good for local search b/c local shops / service providers aren’t very good at Google. By that I mean, local shops / service providers aren’t very good at SEO or at establishing a web presence in general and Google’s bots won’t find you unless you make your self known and relevant to them.

    But some people are very good at SEO and create worthless pages (like “American Towns” in the above example) and get google to send them traffic.

    That’s a bad experience for the searcher and reflects badly on Google. I agree that Foursquare and Facebook could have better results based on people checking-in but their advantage would last only until they found some success convincing people to use them to search. Once that happened, the same people who created “American Towns” would find a way to game them too.

    What’s the answer? Some sort of curation would be a huge help. AOL (via Patch) is getting into hyper-local in this way. If FB and FS factored the # of check-ins to relevance they could accomplish this too (i.e. fake results wouldn’t have many check-ins.

    Similar issues exist for car insurance results and my company CoverHound (www.coverhound.com) is tackling that.

  30. hubrudy says:

    Trying to find a place through Google has been really hit or miss for me. If you know enough about the place, but just can’t remember the address, then you can usually get what you need, but like you pointed out, when you just have a vague idea of what you’re looking for and a category, there’s a lot of ‘fluff’ in the results, and high ranking results that are just filled with spam and crappy re-links. Not sure how those sites managed to crack the Google code, but they must be making a pretty good amount of coin doing it, because there are a ton of copy-cat sites out there that are pretty much all just different looking versions of the same crappy thing. Let’s just hope there’s an algorithm update in the near future that addresses this problem.

  31. Corey Smith says:

    With Google web search becoming saturated with results nobody wants, could the yellow pages and 411 phone calls make a comeback?

  32. Chris says:

    foursquare does have search, and that search is very local, and once you find the place on foursquare it may have tips on what is good or bad at that place; foursquare is a natural choice for this as it is community maintained and there is some value to the person that first creates a location. Unfotunately, either the foursquare users where you are do not care about this place enough to create it yet OR the density of foursquare users it too low where you are. This is one of the many dangers of relying on the social web.

  33. Vici says:

    That’s crazy… now we are looking for frozen yogurts on the web … where are those times when we tried all frozen food and we were sick from those :)

  34. Ray says:

    Always been useless for what you are trying to do. We travel worldwide for 3 to 4 months each summer. Useless all over the world.

  35. Mike says:

    I think it’s hilarious that the 3rd organic result on Bing for “edgartown yogurt” is now this blog posting…

    http://www.bing.com/search?q=edgartown%20yogurt&form=QBLH