Location, Location, Location. In my previous blog piece on Locational Apps I gave my opinion on what they do and don’t do.
Recently, I have cause to revisit the field of Locational Applications and it encouraged me to do a bit of basic testing and research.
I started by looking at the three leading apps at the moment (or so it seems):
For the next part I’m going to attempt to use generic terms rather than any one application’s names or terminology: –
Each of these platforms work on the common paradigm of Users and Locations. As a distinct user notifies the platform of their arrival at a location this is disseminated to their followers on the application/ platform and subject to the original user’s settings via Social Networks they use like Twitter or Facebook.
I suggested in my previous blog piece that the “Big 3” search engines should be indexing locations.
Isn’t a physical check-in to a location SEO worthy in the same way as arriving at a link in a search?
So my first test was to run searches on Bing, Google and Yahoo for specific users and locations. I used random users and locations; where the same user(s) and location(s) were used for each search engine. The table displays my results: –
Conclusions to be drawn from this are:-
None of the Big 3 Search Engines indexes individual locations: again, lost ROI for the locations in terms of ranking.
Gowalla users across the board are indexed and found when searched for.
Bing couldn’t find the Foursquare users but Google and Yahoo could.
Google found the Brightkite users but Bing and Yahoo couldn’t so they offered several partial suggestions for other users on Brightkite with similar locations.
I decided that one more test was warranted against the search engines. I decided to search for <platform_name>, <locational_terminology> and two areas [Tel Aviv and Riverdale].
The two areas were chosen because based on experience Tel Aviv, Israel is probably the highest concentration of early adopters of tech like this I was familiar with and Riverdale is an area name that could catch several places in the US and these apps / platforms are based in the US.
The table displays my results: –
Partial suggestions = a short list of results. Each with a link on the platform/ app website.
Aggregated results = one link in search results containing an aggregated list of links on the platform/ app website.
Conclusions to be drawn from this: –
Bing did not find results for either areas except on Brightkite.
Google indexes all three of the app/ platform locations, at least partially however differences we seen in the total number of links in favor of the US area.
In a nutshell I guess looking for locations from locational applications via search engines is something of an oxymoron.
I looked at these results some more and figured that linking to user profiles on the site has value for personal ranking. However, with the sheer volume of venues being described by all three app/ platforms, what would the increased load be on the web and the search engines to handle each and every checkin?
One bit of encouragement is that as Real Time Search has begun, linking your Gowalla / Foursquare / Brightkite to Twitter or Facebook should mean that de facto Tweets and FB statuses regarding checkins should be indexed like any other.
The big question is, if one of the Big 3 search engines implements their own equivalent Locational Application / Platform or even the new Facebook Places, will their locations be indexed individually giving this missing bump to ranking (SEO) for businesses as locations?
More important, if they do have this added value, how will this affect Gowalla, Foursquare or Brightkite?