The alpha and omega of local is now Google.

Greg Sterling on August 19, 2019 at 10:31 am

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If you were to search for “local” in the App Store, you might expect to see dozens and dozens of apps. Instead, what you get are a few familiar brands: Facebook Local, Eventbrite, Nextdoor, Weatherbug, some news and then casual dating apps. It’s kind of bizarre.

This is a metaphor for the shrinking world of local.

Only a few sites matter

Not long ago, I gave a presentation that argued local online marketing is essentially about Google and Facebook, with some attention required to Yelp, Apple Maps, relevant verticals — and maybe Bing. Almost everything beyond this is either not important or declining in importance.

This is in stark contrast to the way it was a decade (or so) ago when multiple “horizontal” directories and local search engines competed for consumer traffic. Some may not believe it, but Google was only one of a number of sites consumers could use to look for local business information (remember Yahoo Local, Mapquest and Citysearch?). That has now radically changed.

But not only has the number of “sites that matter” changed, there’s almost no new consumer-facing innovation happening in local. That may sound wrong, but all the sites you would probably name are roughly 10 (or more) years old.

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