Having spent the last year working on the redesign and search logic for the new YellowPages.ca, which launched on Oct 12, 2009, I wanted to share some of the most interesting search queries that I have seen come through our log files in the past couple of weeks. These are all PG rated, believe me we get NSFW entries, but I will exclude those from this list.
Before jumping into the list, I want to send a thanks to all the teams that worked on bringing this together. The biggest learning from this is that most people I talk to ask me why this would take so long, “I mean come on, its a website, anybody can do website design”. The actual process of building and testing was relatively short, however, the logic streams behind the platform where the most timing consuming; planning, coordination and communication. Exercise
For end users, this site either works or it doesn’t. If they find what they needed, then their local search is successful. If they conduct a search and cannot find what they wanted, then we failed. When I say this was the biggest launch in my career, here’s why? Think of these numbers; 400K advertisers with content that needs to be mined, 1.2M business listings, over 200M+ in online revenue, over 7M Canadian per month that rely on yellowpages.ca for their local search engine (source: Yellow Pages Group Financial Statements). To say that relaunching yellowpages.ca has expectations is an understatement, but a great challenge and overall response has been extremely positive.
The underlying premise behind this relaunch was very simple: a) YellowPages.ca has vast amounts of local business content (remember only 50% of CDN businesses have a website, that’s around 500K and I would argue a good 1/3 of those have extremely stale data) that we need to get in front of consumers and b) make the site more geographical relevant to the neighborhood, landmark and lat/long perspective. By opening up more of the data and creating the intersection with geographical associations, I believe Canadians will have a much better local experience. To sum up the majority of what our users are saying, “It just works, thanks”.
If you have not already checked out the redesigned home page, here is the screenshot. We moved all the key aspects of what a user wants directly to the front, based on a lot of user research. For Business Search you can search via What/Where, Reverse Phone Look-Up, Map and Driving Directions. For People Search you can search via Who/Where, Reverse Phone Number, Map and Driving Directions. On the business side you can also click navigate through Business Locations or Business Category.
Here are some of the most interesting local searches that users are now conducting on the new YellowPages.ca. If you want to see the results that go along with those searches, click below, some are quite interesting.
Hemorrhoids, Port Coquitlam – nothing to say here, but buddy go get them checked out.
Nudism, Ontario – I was surprised at how many places in Ontario you can go au natural.
Nuclear Waste, Mount Pleasant – this is a neighborhood in Toronto, I hope they don’t actually have nuclear waste. From the result set, seems they were looking for Nuclear Waste Management Organization which is located around this neighborhood – who know?
Non Toxic Toys, Calgary – Either this is an over cautious parent or a couple looking for an interesting evening. I think it is the latter.
Fair Trade Coffee, Bell Centre – the search term, Fair Trade Coffee is really increasing, especially on our iPhone Application. I wonder if this was a native Montrealer or somebody visiting Montreal. Based on the search query time, appears to be before the Montreal Canadians game.
Dog Protein, Toronto – I put this one in because as an owner of a Cocker Spaniel, I can personally say I never searched this one before, but I suppose it makes sense if your dog is not getting enough protein in its diet.
Ugly, Canada – I think this was a joke search, but one observation from my end – why are all the businesses with Ugly in their name located in Western Canada?
Sprocket, Lessard Park – Lessard Park in located in Edmonton. This proves that even business to business searches (perhaps this is business to consumer) will start to get hyperlocal given the opportunity.
Fireworks, Calgary – I wanted to include this one, because when I lived in Pickering it was amazing to me how many people shoot off fireworks during holidays. I lived in Calgary and Saskatoon prior to moving to Pickering and this was not a normal thing in those cities to do. Now that I am back in Calgary, still not normal, yet it surprises me how many searches there are for it. Go figure.
I will keep an eye out for more interesting searches to post in the future. In the meantime, if you have not already, check out YellowPages.ca and tell me what you think in my comments.
The YellowPages.ca Answer Service has been running for over 1-month now and the numbers of local questions being asked and answered is increasing steadily. There are a lot of questions around plumbers, mechanics, electricians, restaurants, etc, however, I wanted to highlight some questions that don’t really fall into the traditional categories of what people are looking for.
Here is my list of the 8 most usual or out of the ordinary local business questions asked by users:
- I need to find mannaquin arms, 10 to be precise. Where can i find them? – mannaguin arms, I wonder what he needs those for? What about the rest of the mannaquin?
- Does anyone know a good, high tech dentist w/ cute assistants in Montreal, QC (near downtown core)? – love this question, forget the dentist, it is all about the assistant
- Does anyone know a nice no-tell hotel in Montreal, QC? – hmmmm, I wonder what the no-tell is about
- Does anyone know a good escort service in saint john? – interesting, perhaps the person looking for the no-tell hotel could help, see above
- Does anyone know a mediocre taco bell restaurant in guelph on? – some would argue that all food at Taco Bell is mediocre
- Where is a good place to buy NHL jerseys in Toronto? Jerseys from other teams, not just the Leafs. – exactly, who would purchase a leaf’s jersey?
- Anyone know a mediator specialized in neighbour disputes in Montreal, QC? – see Samual L Jackson in Lakeview Terrace, might give you some ideas
- Where is the best place for happy hour on a Friday afternoon in Ottawa? – somebody has their priorities straight
I will continue to monitor and update this list later in the year with more unique questions that are being asked.
From a business perspective the Answer service can be used to increase sales and leads to your business. Here are 3-Steps on how a local businesses can take advantage of this service?
1) Create an account and if your business uses Twitter, connect it to your twitter feed
2) Monitor the questions
3) If a user is asking for a recommendation on your business category or you think you can help them out, provide a recommendation. I suggest that you disclose that you are recommending your own business. In the comments field give some insight into why that person should do business with you.
What this does for a local business is gives them direct access to users who might be interested in their products or services and opens a dialogue with users.
Would you follow your favorite healthy pizza place on Twitter? Through the power of Twitter, originally posted by @perryevans, which I found through a ReTweet by @sebprovencher – I am now following NakedPizza, a New Orleans super-health conscious pizza joint. The article that my twitter friends were talking about is “A Sign Of Things To Come: Naked Pizza Erects Twitter Billboard” from TechCrunch.
So, what did NakedPizza do that deserves such mention? Simple. They are using traditional media combined with social media to stay connected with their customers. Check out the picture below from TechCrunch.
From the article – “But if a business can get a customer to add their Twitter handle, it gets a free channel to constantly remind them that they exist. By tweeting out promotions a few times a week, Naked Pizza will maintain a presence in the customer’s consciousness, and the customer gets a chance to score some cheap pizza.”
What a brilliant strategy from a small business. Back in 2005, when I operated KS2 Solutions Inc., a Calgary based Internet Marketing firm, I did a lot of public speaking about small business marketing and how SMB’s could leverage the Internet. In February of that year I posted a blog titled, “Are You Letting Sales Slip Away” in which I discussed the importance of staying connected with your customers. At that time, the message in terms of doing this was through a eNewsletter, however, move ahead 4-years and now there is Twitter.
Twitter is likely one of the best tools, since eNewsletters, for constant communication with your customers. From a user perspective, I can follow my favorite local, regional or national brand players who will inform me through tiny 140 character updates about products, specials or whatever. When I compare Twitter to Email, I see 3 key advantages –
1) more viral, easier to share Tweets as opposed to forwarding emails
2) promotes two-way communication
3) small, short and focused messages, no more rambling newsletters about how great you are
I am still a fan of the eNewsletter but Twitter could be the next best thing to staying connected with your customers.
By the numbers, as of this posting:
1942 – the number of people following @NakedPizza
62 – the number of comments on the article posted on TechCrunch (note: was 60 when I started writing this blog post)
4 – the number of times my wife has asked me if I am done yet
[praized subtype="big" name="true" address="true" phone="true" pid="2badfefe121645a307dc20956f9bcf7d" type="badge" dynamic="true"]