Chris Linnett over at SearchEngineLand talks about a world where local search would not necessarily be tied to map-based navigation.
Local search is a process involving many variables, more often determined by use case than sheer location on a map. Can maps be an important part of local search? Absolutely, but not always and not for everyone. Many use cases do not rely on maps, and many people do not find maps an effective cognitive tool. Therefore, should maps dominate local-search applications the way they often do, especially given the core essence of local search? (…)
Imagining a major local search site without maps is extreme, given the ubiquity of maps and their utility in certain cases, but it is a worthy exercise. Maps are a piece of the local-search puzzle. Text-based refinements greatly enhance the utility of a site. As an industry, our ability to fill in the space with effective and relevant discovery and decision-making tools will ultimately define the quality of the local-search experience.
What it means: I completely agree with Chris but I have to point out that this world already exists in directory publishers’ web sites. Maps are a part of local search but they should not be the be-all and end-all. I think the best example from an advertiser point of view is the locksmith or the plumber who do not have an actual office. These people’s offices are their cell phone and their truck. They don’t necessarily have a store front and, if they do, they don’t necessarily want you to go there. For that reason, they are being penalized by major local search sites like Ask City, Google Maps and MSN Live Local while sites like Superpages.com or YellowPages.ca will include them.