Friday, March 27, 2009

There is no such thing as bad publicity

Just came across an article from early March about Yelp in the NY Times: "The Review Site Yelp Draws Some Outcries of Its Own". The article is not completely negative, but it does quote a number of business owners and Yelp reviewers that feel they have been wronged by Yelp.

This is not the first article of this type that I've come across. It seems every six months I read some article about Yelp and the controversy surrounding its five million business reviews (e.g. "Online review policy has local business owners Yelping mad").

But there's no such thing as bad publicity, especially for a content web site that is free for users. Yelp's traffic has more than doubled over the last year. I'd be quite happy to have a long article in the New York Times gently chiding Nelso while touting its rapid growth and high-quality business listings.

Local search growing faster than overall web search


According to a recent study by comScore of internet usage patterns, local search grew much more quickly last year than the overall search market, with searches for local businesses and services growing 58% in 2008, compared to growth of 21% for overall search traffic.

The following quote from the report is encouraging for sites like Nelso:
75 percent of the top 100 keywords searched on Internet Yellow Pages sites were non-branded, indicating that a majority of consumers have not decided on a specific company or product brand when they begin their search.

What this means is that most users are not searching for a specific business or brand (e.g. Louis Vuitton), but for a general category like "luggage". This is a big positive for sites like Nelso that can offer good category listings, but have difficulty competing for traffic from searches for brand names.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The value of listings in multiple languages

Nelso concentrates on two "niches" in the local search market: high quality data collected by our own staff, and offering listings in many languages.

We recently ran the stats for who is looking at our business listings, and in what language they are using Nelso.


Traffic to Czech business listings by language of user


In one of our most popular markets, the Czech Republic, less than 50% of page views are from locals (i.e. in Czech). Almost a quarter of page views are in English, and the remaining 30% are made up of many languages, including Danish, German, and Russian. Thus, our listings in the Czech Republic would be worth less than half as much if we didn't support so many languages.

We suspected that the Czech Republic might be an exceptional case. Prague is a very popular tourist destination, and so one would expect that many users looking for businesses would not be locals.


Traffic to Danish business listings by language of user


But our stats for our Danish business listings suggest otherwise. Denmark does get its share of tourists, but we expected almost all our local search traffic to be from Danes (i.e. in Danish). However, Danish-language traffic to our Danish business listings makes up only slightly more than half of all traffic, with English, Czech, and German making up more than 25% of all traffic to DK business listings.

We're headed to New York in May, 2009 to start photographing businesses in Manhattan for the Nelso sites. Is it possible that more than 50% of the traffic to these new listings will be in languages other then English?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is China a bigger internet market than the U.S.?

Earlier today, we accomplished a long-term goal with the launch of Nelso in Chinese at Nelso.cn. According to numerous articles published in the last year, China's internet population is nearly equal to that of the U.S., or already larger. No matter when the cross-over point occurs, it is clear that both India and China will far surpass the the U.S. in internet users over the next decade. Thus, we're excited to have launched beta versions of Nelso in Chinese for China, and in Hindi for India (many people in India also use the internet in English, of course).

Monday, March 9, 2009