Greg Sterling (Search Engine Watch) reviews Windows Live Local’s mapping features at it nears its first birthday. Nothing new for those who have been paying attention, but he does make this interesting observation:
Currently of the top four mapping sites, Microsoft is in fourth position in terms of traffic, according to comScore. It goes, Mapquest, Yahoo, Google and WLL in that order. Mapquest is the least dynamic of the four but still dominant. Part of that is the brand and consumer habit and part of it is the use case. Most consumers have not discovered the full utility of mapping sites as a starting point for local search. The dominant use case today remains driving directions after I’ve decided where I want to go.
He doesn’t point to specific numbers, but I expect he is correct. Despite all the whizbang of Birds Eye views and 3D and specializing local search, most of us are still simply using routing engines. We are not doing local search. We don’t yet think that way. That certainly supports why MapQuest, the “Kleenex” of routing, is still in the lead. There’s still a lot of educating to get the public to take advantage of “what more the map can do.”
And, I’ll go further, that’s the case for basic mashups, too. Putting dots on the maps is still what’s of value to most consumers and some percentage of businesses. Educating them not only that GIS can do modelling, but that it has value, is still a top priority as geospatial thinking comes to a broader audience.
Eric Kass covering Media Post’s Search Insider Summit quotes Google’s Karen Crow, director of sales and operations “summarized the general feeling:”
Local is huge, but it hasn’t really been tapped into.
Interestingly, Google, Microsoft and Ask.com are keeping local search separate from Local. Yahoo, is going the other way and itegrating it into the main search.
Above all, Yahoo believes that users find multiple entrances for search counterintuitive and inconvenient, [Ron] Belanger [senior director of channel strategy and development for Yahoo search marketing] said—which may explain the low activity rates on specialized local search portals.