Google’s local search impresses on “notary” search

We all know Google is cleaning up in the search space, but every so often I’ll check out what the other folks are doing just to see if they are getting close. Today I needed a notary. I work in Palo Alto, so I typed:

Palo Alto notary

into Google, Live.com, Ask, and Yahoo.

Only Google gave me the correct answer along with a map.

For this search Google is so far ahead of the others it isn’t even funny. And people wonder why Google continues getting market share? It’s no secret. Just ask the Palo Alto notary (I used the one at the UPS Store on Middlefield today and she was awesome).

UPDATE: Look at the ads on each of these searches. Google is kicking ass there too! It’s the only search that ONLY brought back Notary ads in that search. In fact, Live.com brought back NO ads for “notaries.” How freaking lame! I don’t want to see hotels when I am looking for a notary.

Are you seeing the same results for your local searches?

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. Occasionally I will attempt to use the other search engines, just to see if they have improved past Google’s results for my area. I have yet to even slightly think about switching search engines. Google gets it right the first time so often that I have complete trust in it.

    I don’t remember the last time I did a local search and had issues.

  2. Occasionally I will attempt to use the other search engines, just to see if they have improved past Google’s results for my area. I have yet to even slightly think about switching search engines. Google gets it right the first time so often that I have complete trust in it.

    I don’t remember the last time I did a local search and had issues.

  3. See what happens when bandwidth is cheap? :-P

    Of course, I can still remember when having a US Robotics HST was the **** for file transfer. When Fido ruled the world, gateways everywhere.

    Now I can’t live without my cable modem, always on, always fast (mostly) and still at the same price as an additional POTS line and dial-up ISP.

    Yes, I’m an old fart. (Google or Yahoo, that’s me in the first position)

  4. See what happens when bandwidth is cheap? :-P

    Of course, I can still remember when having a US Robotics HST was the **** for file transfer. When Fido ruled the world, gateways everywhere.

    Now I can’t live without my cable modem, always on, always fast (mostly) and still at the same price as an additional POTS line and dial-up ISP.

    Yes, I’m an old fart. (Google or Yahoo, that’s me in the first position)

  5. google is just amazing, I sold a car last week and used google to find a title transfer place nearby. I found three that I didn’t even know existed (and i’ve lived here for 13 years) :-) I use it for everything.

  6. google is just amazing, I sold a car last week and used google to find a title transfer place nearby. I found three that I didn’t even know existed (and i’ve lived here for 13 years) :-) I use it for everything.

  7. I searched my city for “notary” and had similar results. Only google gave me a map in the initial search (which I love). As was the case for you, live.com didn’t have any notary ads.

  8. I searched my city for “notary” and had similar results. Only google gave me a map in the initial search (which I love). As was the case for you, live.com didn’t have any notary ads.

  9. Either Live.com just took note of your blog post or it just hates Palo Alto because I went to live.com and typed in:

    Lafayette notary

    It even picked the right state, Colorado, which is impressive.

    And everything was about notaries for me, I got three maps and all ads were about notaries. Actually, it does seem to be Palo Alto, because after trying several other cities all of them came back with correct maps and ads.

  10. Either Live.com just took note of your blog post or it just hates Palo Alto because I went to live.com and typed in:

    Lafayette notary

    It even picked the right state, Colorado, which is impressive.

    And everything was about notaries for me, I got three maps and all ads were about notaries. Actually, it does seem to be Palo Alto, because after trying several other cities all of them came back with correct maps and ads.

  11. Most interesting part is that doing local search for Car Wash – google showed no Ad Words, where as Live showed ads for Car.

    Google is good as it has integrated local (yellow page) info and understands search contextually far better than any other engine.

  12. Most interesting part is that doing local search for Car Wash – google showed no Ad Words, where as Live showed ads for Car.

    Google is good as it has integrated local (yellow page) info and understands search contextually far better than any other engine.

  13. Just a little trick !

    I think the trick is that google somewhat preparses the query, and feed the splitted query into the local search. Basically, google splits the “Palo Alto notary” into something like “notary near: Palo Alto, CA”. If you search “notary” using local.live.com, then enter “Palo Alto, CA” into the address, you will see the great results, too:

    http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&ss=yp.notary&cp=37.444694~-122.160747&style=r&lvl=11&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000

    In summary, Google does a very little trick, and then offers much better impression. I was wondering why MS, Yahoo, ASK and others are not doing so. It will only take a couple of hrs to make it to work.

    I can do it easily, basically, you feed the query into some kind of geocoding service, and trying to identify the parts that corresponds to a city or area name, then reform the query. Rather then feeding to the general search, send the query to the specialized local search.

    Oh well, Google is much thoughtful than others

  14. Just a little trick !

    I think the trick is that google somewhat preparses the query, and feed the splitted query into the local search. Basically, google splits the “Palo Alto notary” into something like “notary near: Palo Alto, CA”. If you search “notary” using local.live.com, then enter “Palo Alto, CA” into the address, you will see the great results, too:

    http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&ss=yp.notary&cp=37.444694~-122.160747&style=r&lvl=11&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000

    In summary, Google does a very little trick, and then offers much better impression. I was wondering why MS, Yahoo, ASK and others are not doing so. It will only take a couple of hrs to make it to work.

    I can do it easily, basically, you feed the query into some kind of geocoding service, and trying to identify the parts that corresponds to a city or area name, then reform the query. Rather then feeding to the general search, send the query to the specialized local search.

    Oh well, Google is much thoughtful than others

  15. Hi,
    I was a Google fan for quite some time and they do have the largest market share right now. However, compared to the development in semantic and real language search I have been exposed to recently, Google search is really a dinosaur.

    It will be difficult (well not really) for some of these to catch up in terms of indexed pages and etc. Other engines in Beta or still behind doors in Silicon Valley have some of the greatest minds on the planet behind them. The also have some of the heaviest hitting investors too.

    I just interviewed Dr. Berkan CEO of hakia search (not finished yet). he walked me through what they are doing and we talked about 2nd tier engines in collaboration with each other. You simply have to think of Google as a 6 or 7 year old TV, when compared to these developments.
    Don’t take my word for it, do some research.

    Not trying to start a ruckus, just want to help.

    Phil Butler

  16. Hi,
    I was a Google fan for quite some time and they do have the largest market share right now. However, compared to the development in semantic and real language search I have been exposed to recently, Google search is really a dinosaur.

    It will be difficult (well not really) for some of these to catch up in terms of indexed pages and etc. Other engines in Beta or still behind doors in Silicon Valley have some of the greatest minds on the planet behind them. The also have some of the heaviest hitting investors too.

    I just interviewed Dr. Berkan CEO of hakia search (not finished yet). he walked me through what they are doing and we talked about 2nd tier engines in collaboration with each other. You simply have to think of Google as a 6 or 7 year old TV, when compared to these developments.
    Don’t take my word for it, do some research.

    Not trying to start a ruckus, just want to help.

    Phil Butler

  17. Um, I see Palo Alto Noteries on all four of those searches. First hit for live.com and sponcered links for Yahoo and Ask complete with addresses, phone numbers and maps.

    Maybe they noted all the hits. :)

  18. Um, I see Palo Alto Noteries on all four of those searches. First hit for live.com and sponcered links for Yahoo and Ask complete with addresses, phone numbers and maps.

    Maybe they noted all the hits. :)

  19. There are two things that need to be addressed here by the search engines:
    1. an implementation that has good enough performance (remember, it affects their main search, where the bulk of their traffic is)
    2. good enough results. matches that aren’t made are not as bad as false positives.

  20. There are two things that need to be addressed here by the search engines:
    1. an implementation that has good enough performance (remember, it affects their main search, where the bulk of their traffic is)
    2. good enough results. matches that aren’t made are not as bad as false positives.

  21. drmike: but what you didn’t see is that Google brought back the one I ended up using, along with a map, and ones closer to where I was. The notary I ended up using wasn’t even listed on Live or Yahoo.

  22. drmike: but what you didn’t see is that Google brought back the one I ended up using, along with a map, and ones closer to where I was. The notary I ended up using wasn’t even listed on Live or Yahoo.

  23. Phil Butler: I had the CEO of PowerSet over for dinner. http://scobleizer.com/2007/01/30/have-dinner-with-the-geeks/

    He claims he has a better search engine than Google too.

    He just might have it. But Google is both algorithms and datacenter execution.

    It might be easy to come up with better algorithms (I have yet to see more than just a prototype that works on a specific set of searches well) but it isn’t going to be easy to build out the datacenters that Google has a huge lead in.

    Google can always reverse engineer a new set of algorithms.

    A new company can’t easily reverse engineer the brand that Google has, nor can it build datacenters around the world without becoming a hugely profitable business first.

    Translation: if you’re gonna beat the big three at this game, you’ve gotta bring something to the table that’s so remarkable (and so well patented) that you’ll probably get bought right away anyway.

  24. Phil Butler: I had the CEO of PowerSet over for dinner. http://scobleizer.com/2007/01/30/have-dinner-with-the-geeks/

    He claims he has a better search engine than Google too.

    He just might have it. But Google is both algorithms and datacenter execution.

    It might be easy to come up with better algorithms (I have yet to see more than just a prototype that works on a specific set of searches well) but it isn’t going to be easy to build out the datacenters that Google has a huge lead in.

    Google can always reverse engineer a new set of algorithms.

    A new company can’t easily reverse engineer the brand that Google has, nor can it build datacenters around the world without becoming a hugely profitable business first.

    Translation: if you’re gonna beat the big three at this game, you’ve gotta bring something to the table that’s so remarkable (and so well patented) that you’ll probably get bought right away anyway.

  25. Barney Pell is a brilliant person and I agree with you assessment for the most part. There are other people with money out there too, however. As for data centers, Google uses and architecture that is archaic by comparison to either Powerset or hakia (from what I understand).

    Dr. Berkan told me that he would make his technology open source in the final analysis any way. I need to wrap my mind around the system better before I can authoritatively comment. I am an engineer and have some limited grasp so far. But fuzzy logic and AI are just a little out of my scope of operation.

    Algorithms by themselves can always be manipulated and can only return as diverse set of data sets to choose from. Humans (and correctly designed semantics) return much more precise data sets.

    The way Dr. Berkan explained it to me like this:
    Take a sentence with 10 words in it. A mathematical analysis of those 10 words would result in BILLIONS of permutations. A person would organize and break down those same 10 words into perhaps 6 or 7 permutations.

    By using semantics in conjunction with a special algorithmic program, semantic searches will return something in between these parameters.

    Sorry, to run so long :) Any way, what they are bringing to the table is as you described and they are not interested in short term windfalls. I got the feeling that they are in it for the long haul. The people behind them have a different cause I think.

    Just what I know so far, thanks for the great venue Robert! When I get some technical data I will shoot it to you.

    Sincerely, Phil Butler

  26. Barney Pell is a brilliant person and I agree with you assessment for the most part. There are other people with money out there too, however. As for data centers, Google uses and architecture that is archaic by comparison to either Powerset or hakia (from what I understand).

    Dr. Berkan told me that he would make his technology open source in the final analysis any way. I need to wrap my mind around the system better before I can authoritatively comment. I am an engineer and have some limited grasp so far. But fuzzy logic and AI are just a little out of my scope of operation.

    Algorithms by themselves can always be manipulated and can only return as diverse set of data sets to choose from. Humans (and correctly designed semantics) return much more precise data sets.

    The way Dr. Berkan explained it to me like this:
    Take a sentence with 10 words in it. A mathematical analysis of those 10 words would result in BILLIONS of permutations. A person would organize and break down those same 10 words into perhaps 6 or 7 permutations.

    By using semantics in conjunction with a special algorithmic program, semantic searches will return something in between these parameters.

    Sorry, to run so long :) Any way, what they are bringing to the table is as you described and they are not interested in short term windfalls. I got the feeling that they are in it for the long haul. The people behind them have a different cause I think.

    Just what I know so far, thanks for the great venue Robert! When I get some technical data I will shoot it to you.

    Sincerely, Phil Butler

  27. Even so, Google doesn’t have it down yet. I have tried more than a few times to get a search done for a server I am using, and there is no combination that has yet yielded the result I am looking for. Consider the term:
    “Compaq DL380 R02 spec”

    The result is non-existent with the word SPEC in there. Without it, I get at least some references, but Google doesn’t yet have it down to the basics, like Mac OSX Tiger (and beyond) already do for OS’s. I wonder what it’ll take to have the entire web cross-reference already down on the client (probably a thicker search-client than most would care for. I, for one, wouldn’t mind if I got “Spotlight” functionality for the entire web on my fingertips.) Firefox (yes, the browser) is already starting to show _some_ intelligence in that direction by the “recommended search terms” that pop up when you start typing something into the built-in search bar. Perhaps the best of worlds scenario will arise by the conjunction of smart developments in different arenas.

    Abbas Zaidi
    http://www.GymkhanaClub.us/zeo

  28. Even so, Google doesn’t have it down yet. I have tried more than a few times to get a search done for a server I am using, and there is no combination that has yet yielded the result I am looking for. Consider the term:
    “Compaq DL380 R02 spec”

    The result is non-existent with the word SPEC in there. Without it, I get at least some references, but Google doesn’t yet have it down to the basics, like Mac OSX Tiger (and beyond) already do for OS’s. I wonder what it’ll take to have the entire web cross-reference already down on the client (probably a thicker search-client than most would care for. I, for one, wouldn’t mind if I got “Spotlight” functionality for the entire web on my fingertips.) Firefox (yes, the browser) is already starting to show _some_ intelligence in that direction by the “recommended search terms” that pop up when you start typing something into the built-in search bar. Perhaps the best of worlds scenario will arise by the conjunction of smart developments in different arenas.

    Abbas Zaidi
    http://www.GymkhanaClub.us/zeo

  29. Abbas Zaidi: remove your quotes, or get the name correct. It’s not “Compaq DL380 R02” it’s “Compaq ProLiant DL380 R02”
    If you’re not sure of the EXACT name, using an EXACT phrase search is silly.

    A search for:
    Compaq DL380 R02 spec
    or
    “Compaq ProLiant DL380 R02” spec
    returns hits.

  30. Abbas Zaidi: remove your quotes, or get the name correct. It’s not “Compaq DL380 R02” it’s “Compaq ProLiant DL380 R02”
    If you’re not sure of the EXACT name, using an EXACT phrase search is silly.

    A search for:
    Compaq DL380 R02 spec
    or
    “Compaq ProLiant DL380 R02” spec
    returns hits.

  31. Re: Phil Butler While it may be possible to have better searching than Google’s, esp on particular queries, there’s not much value to a search engine that handles only one kind of queries (or only popular queries) well. Yes, anyone can get you “pictures of Britney Spears” but can they all get you “palo alto notaries”? I’d rather use a search engine that handles 90% of my queries very well vs. one that handles 10% perfectly.

  32. Re: Phil Butler While it may be possible to have better searching than Google’s, esp on particular queries, there’s not much value to a search engine that handles only one kind of queries (or only popular queries) well. Yes, anyone can get you “pictures of Britney Spears” but can they all get you “palo alto notaries”? I’d rather use a search engine that handles 90% of my queries very well vs. one that handles 10% perfectly.

  33. I appreciate your view AC, but I can assure you that those engines mentioned are more capable (or should I say will be) than Google for doing specific and localized searching.

    If you do a search for Palo Alto Bimbos, google will probably lead you to one. In a year or two hakia will be able to categorize the bimbos by height and weight, location and eating habits. The biggest plus will be having the prostitute ads in the “sponsored links” bar on the right :)

    Like I said, I will attempt to reach Dr. Berkan so that I might be able to show you guys (as he did for me) how rather excellent this technology is. Google has many reasons fro being #1. I am not against them, heck if they invented better technology I would be all out for them.
    Tnanks ….Phli

  34. I appreciate your view AC, but I can assure you that those engines mentioned are more capable (or should I say will be) than Google for doing specific and localized searching.

    If you do a search for Palo Alto Bimbos, google will probably lead you to one. In a year or two hakia will be able to categorize the bimbos by height and weight, location and eating habits. The biggest plus will be having the prostitute ads in the “sponsored links” bar on the right :)

    Like I said, I will attempt to reach Dr. Berkan so that I might be able to show you guys (as he did for me) how rather excellent this technology is. Google has many reasons fro being #1. I am not against them, heck if they invented better technology I would be all out for them.
    Tnanks ….Phli

  35. Hmmm, must have something to do with Palo Alto. I typed notary and my hometown into Live and received:

    Top local listings for notary near Aberdeen, NJ Is this useful? (note: when I clicked on this link (“Top local listing”) I received a map with 10 notaries within 10 miles).

    Scheeler’s Postmark(410) 273-0048939 Beards Hill Rd # I, Aberdeen
    Post Mark Incorporated(410) 273-0491939 Beards Hill Rd, Aberdeen
    Delivery Unlimited(410) 734-4773Churchville

  36. Hmmm, must have something to do with Palo Alto. I typed notary and my hometown into Live and received:

    Top local listings for notary near Aberdeen, NJ Is this useful? (note: when I clicked on this link (“Top local listing”) I received a map with 10 notaries within 10 miles).

    Scheeler’s Postmark(410) 273-0048939 Beards Hill Rd # I, Aberdeen
    Post Mark Incorporated(410) 273-0491939 Beards Hill Rd, Aberdeen
    Delivery Unlimited(410) 734-4773Churchville

  37. Bit off topic: Live Images is much nicer than Google Image search.

    Especially if you have a great screen.

    About local search, you are supposed to type subject location not location subject. Google is the only one who is reversing the query it seems like.

    Another thing no one has noticed is if you type in a city in Google Maps, it gets stored as a cookie, which increases the relevancy of that city when you zoom out. The smaller city now appears even when you have a larger city right next to it that does not now appear. That’s a spit finish shine–like the one Robert points out–that wins loyalty!

    Google is doing a heck of a lot right, including building brand loyalty by going to bat for consumers consitantly and consistantly, but I’m tired of sensationalism and jaded spin on tech stories.

    What happened to when we could sit back and be excited about technology and call ‘em like we see them? I’m sure I could find a fluke in Google’s tech that was better polished on the live.com side. (I did find one major glitch on Google Maps where spam was leaking into the results and my company had Google make some corrections to it’s top results)

    The fact is I use Google maps more than Live simply because it usually loads faster depending on where I am connecting in the US, but they (Live) have a much nicer technology in place, and Google has been playing catch up for quite some time in this area. Scoble, you’re a wish washy dude sometimes man, I can see you wearing a Zune in two years. :)j.k. (about the Zune)

    J

  38. Bit off topic: Live Images is much nicer than Google Image search.

    Especially if you have a great screen.

    About local search, you are supposed to type subject location not location subject. Google is the only one who is reversing the query it seems like.

    Another thing no one has noticed is if you type in a city in Google Maps, it gets stored as a cookie, which increases the relevancy of that city when you zoom out. The smaller city now appears even when you have a larger city right next to it that does not now appear. That’s a spit finish shine–like the one Robert points out–that wins loyalty!

    Google is doing a heck of a lot right, including building brand loyalty by going to bat for consumers consitantly and consistantly, but I’m tired of sensationalism and jaded spin on tech stories.

    What happened to when we could sit back and be excited about technology and call ‘em like we see them? I’m sure I could find a fluke in Google’s tech that was better polished on the live.com side. (I did find one major glitch on Google Maps where spam was leaking into the results and my company had Google make some corrections to it’s top results)

    The fact is I use Google maps more than Live simply because it usually loads faster depending on where I am connecting in the US, but they (Live) have a much nicer technology in place, and Google has been playing catch up for quite some time in this area. Scoble, you’re a wish washy dude sometimes man, I can see you wearing a Zune in two years. :)j.k. (about the Zune)

    J

  39. Google’s ad placement on this type of search is actually not very well implemented at all. I typed your ‘Palo Alto notary’ search and I got good results, but all of the ads were for notaries here in Ontario (where I reside). And I was not even logged into any of my Google search accounts, so Google must key those ads to your IP number — which is very suboptimal because it means no matter where in the world I am searching FOR I have no choice to but see ads for where I am searching FROM.

    What sense does that make?

  40. Google’s ad placement on this type of search is actually not very well implemented at all. I typed your ‘Palo Alto notary’ search and I got good results, but all of the ads were for notaries here in Ontario (where I reside). And I was not even logged into any of my Google search accounts, so Google must key those ads to your IP number — which is very suboptimal because it means no matter where in the world I am searching FOR I have no choice to but see ads for where I am searching FROM.

    What sense does that make?

  41. meanwhile, google IS the internet.
    I work for germany’s greatest online provider and the members talk about google, if they’re talking about the internet

    it’s amazing

    joern

  42. meanwhile, google IS the internet.
    I work for germany’s greatest online provider and the members talk about google, if they’re talking about the internet

    it’s amazing

    joern

  43. Robert:

    I’m curious why you didn’t use a notary locator service likes ours and many others out there? Just an observation…

    thx

  44. Robert,

    Please edit my last comment with the URL for this one. When I do blog comments I always copy my comments to the clipboard in case something goes wrong when I submit. Ugh.. Didn’t know I screwed that last comment up. Sorry for the trouble!

  45. Robert,

    Please edit my last comment with the URL for this one. When I do blog comments I always copy my comments to the clipboard in case something goes wrong when I submit. Ugh.. Didn’t know I screwed that last comment up. Sorry for the trouble!