Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reviews and reputation as a solution to search congestion

The NY Times has a story on how search can be unreliable, because it can be gamed by advertisers, and apparently this problem is particularly pronounced in the market for emergency locksmiths: Picking the Lock of Google’s Search

"According to Yelp, there are — no joke — nearly 3,000 locksmiths in Seattle, though with relatively rare exceptions these operations aren’t in Seattle at all.

"They are phone banks, typically set up in far-off places, often in other countries. Call them and they’ll dispatch a locksmith. Some are legitimate, but others may all too often do shoddy work and/or charge two or three times the estimate.

"In the last five years, some of these lead generation companies, as they are known, have become notorious. A few have been sued by state attorneys general. Several have shown up in gotcha television news stories, a selection of which can be viewed on YouTube by searching for “locksmith scam.”

"You might assume that lead gen sites would be no competition for people like Bob Strom. But for a couple of years, in one crucial arena, they have been crushing him: Google search results. Last Tuesday, the Haggler typed “emergency locksmith Seattle” into a browser, and the top results — most notably, the seven that appeared in the highly coveted Google Places spots, which are marked on an area map — appeared to be lead gen sites. "


This suggests that Yelp will be much more helpful than Google search for finding an emergency locksmith, since Yelp comes with reviews from users...


ekol hoca said...

thanks for text

Highgamma said...

I would have thought that the Better Business Bureau would see this as an opportunity to promote their accredited business service. All it would take is a sponsored link with a well-written blurb about the locksmith scam (perhaps paid for by the accredited locksmiths themselves).

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