On Local, Social, and Competitive Content

Paul Levine, who runs Yahoo Local, made the trek up to Marin earlier this week and we had a chance to chat about any number of things. I've been a fan of Yahoo Local for some time, it was the first from the big three, and remains the best,…

Paull-1Paul Levine, who runs Yahoo Local, made the trek up to Marin earlier this week and we had a chance to chat about any number of things. I’ve been a fan of Yahoo Local for some time, it was the first from the big three, and remains the best, as far as I can tell. Google is on it, of course, and has very cool features, but with 360 and MyWeb, Yahoo has social network integration, and I think this is an important distinction. After talking to Paul for a while, I became convinced that A/Google may well dust off Orkut and actually make it useful for search, B/Google may finally figure out why it bought Blogger, and C/Yahoo can succeed if it really does open up its 360 platform to accept data from all comers. In fact, if 360 has hooks that let developers feed data in, and pull data out, it may well become the first social networking platform with a killer app beyond getting laid (I see Paul, above, did get lei’d…) – and that app will be search.

As I’ve said before, I have no interest in building yet another social network. However, if doing so will offer me a significant benefit – like really personalized search, and/or search based on my friends preferences, posts, and input – well, maybe I’d be motivated. I still don’t want to invite them all in, though, and go through that whole Orkut baseball trading card craze. So if someone hacks up a neat integration tool for Linked In, Apple’s address book, AIM, etc., why, I’d be in for it. And if Yahoo opens up 360 APIs to allow that, why, I imagine someone will do just that.

Secondly, I found myself becoming curious about the odd competitive issues surrounding all this social network and local data that is accumulating around Yahoo Local and 360. Clearly it’s to Yahoo’s benefit to rank well in Google for all that content. Paul showed me a review he did of a Valley auto dealership called Boardwalk Auto Center (hey Paul, is your review linkable? It should be! All I could find to link to was the dealership page on Yahoo Local, where your review is included). Anyway, as I looked at his review, I thought to myself: “Huh. I wonder if that review will be spidered by Google, and come up in Google’s index as relevant content when someone does a Google Local search for, say, “Boardwalk Auto Center” or “Nissan dealer Redwood City“. Seems to me if Google was truly trying to find the best local content, Paul’s review on Yahoo Local would be very pertinent.

What you do find, after a couple of clicks, is some CitySearch reviews. Huh.

Levine told me that in fact, a lot of Yahoo Local content has matriculated into the Google index, and that he’s sure that will continue. Search, especially Google search, is a critical distribution channel for his products. As Google, MSN, and Yahoo fire up their competitive engines, I wonder how long each will be willing to spider the others proprietary content. Worth keeping an eye on.

3 thoughts on “On Local, Social, and Competitive Content”

  1. I commented on my blog the other day that .88% (yes, almost an entire percent) of Google’s index is spent on pages from the Yahoo! domain. But the thing is, Google has only indexed ~70 million pages from Yahoo!, depending on datacenter. Yahoo! has indexed more than 200 million pages from their own domain.

    Compare this to the fact that Yahoo! has indexed just over 1 million pages of GOOG content, who in turn have just over 7 million pages of their own.

    This is a key difference between Google and Yahoo!. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. Yahoo!’s mission is something else. Something that includes creating and publishing a lot of unique content. Google has a few very small things such as Google Answers, but they are in fact very small. I don’t know whether to consider Google Catalogs or Google Print unique content; unique to them perhaps. But those things certainly aren’t flooding the results (yet), and won’t be indexable by other search engines.

  2. …and C/Yahoo can succeed if it really does open up its 360 platform to accept data from all comers.

    A similar point was made a few days ago by Stephen Baker (http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/archives/2005/07/how_to_appeal_t.html)… about the need for mechanisms that would allow blogging to incorporate publishing of large amounts of data – that would increase the appeal to audiences that do not have the inclination to be active media producers… but would rather just browse or search for useful information.

    I am currently working (in my company) on a new Web 2.0 platform called AidPage that combines (1) a simplified self-publishing capability – good for the non-geek, (2) a high degree of automatic contextualization of content, (3) easy self-tagging, (4) total mutual behavioral transparency and visibility – the reason people go to public places – to learn from each other by just seeing each other’s behavior, (5) capabilities for automated publishing of large amounts of data – an API is coming soon, (6) sharing of ad revenue – to keep larger publishers interested, and (7) search across all the space.

    We, at AidPage, are very excited to see that ideas we’ve been working on for some time already are emerging in the discussions about the future of the Web 2.0 platforms.

  3. Wow, you reminded me that I haven’t logged into my Orkut account in a long long long long time.

    (logs in)

    Wow. I have oodles of friend requests pending — people who join Orkut are a very friendly bunch — and I can’t approve any of them.

    “You can only have up to 1000 friends. Before you can add more friends, you need to remove friends.”

    Oh, the humanity.

    That said, I do like the idea of connecting the billions of primates typing on billions of keyboards in better ways. So many people spend so much time and energy creating content and making connections — wouldn’t it be nice if all that effort actually had more significant payoff once it achieves critical mass and momentum?

    I love the idea that the people I connect to and the content makers I trust could actually serve a higher purpose, such saving me time and giving me better experiences with the time I do have, by suggesting the most appropriate things for me to read and to try and to write about and to buy.

    Eventually all these competitors are going to push themselves and each other — and us, and the world — there. The faster, the better.

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