Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

More on infoUSA and Business Listings Databases

June 14th, 2007 by MDob

In our last few blogs, we described the problem of using online local search services for finding businesses and representing these locations accurately for purposes of mapping and routing. More generally, we are interested in examining various issues related to business listings data that make it difficult to conduct local searches and find targets of interest.

One issue that we have focused on has been the problem with accurately locating businesses that show up in SERPs. As we have noted, many systems have particular problems locating businesses whose storefronts are in strip malls.

In our last blog, we discussed infoUSA and its efforts in respect to building a comprehensive up-to-date directory of business listings. There are a number of companies pursuing this opportunity. Among them are Axciom, Amacai/Localeze, Dunn & Bradstreet, True Local and others. In the future, I hope to highlight each company’s product and services. But for now, we will focus on infoUSA.

infoUSA contends that it spends quite a bit of time trying to obtain and verify local telephone numbers for the businesses in its database. The Company believes that its telephone fill rate is 99% and states that every record is telephone-verified at least once a year.

In an attempt to improve the “findability” of listings infoUSA employs name standardization (not Walmart or Wal Mart but Wal-Mart) and descriptive names such as “Marriot Courtyard – Downtown”. In addition, they classify listings under SIC/NAICS codes and Yellow Page Categorizations that they feel are easily converted into “consumer-friendly” groupings.

Perhaps more interesting, infoUSA has now compiled 3 million photographs of business storefronts in the top 100 U.S. metro areas. They are, also, in the process of capturing Lat/Lon coordinates at the doorsteps of these businesses (which should help with the strip mall problem). Since infoUSA has information about the businesses that now exist and the ones that have closed, their attempt at creating a pictorial data base for local search should be much more successful than Amazon’s A9, which had the pix but not current attribute data about the businesses shown in the pix.

infoUSA also has available what is calls “Extensive Franchise Codes” for franchise businesses, brands and occupational specialties in high demand such as Attorneys > Personal Liabilities or Physicians > Pediatricians. Their data is also being augmented with cuisine codes for restaurants, hours of operation, credit cards accepted.

Well, with all of this good stuff available, why is it so hard to find a comprehensive list of the business-type you are looking for in your neighborhood using local search? Note, this is not the problem of being able to locate the business on a map, but just finding a listing for a business that either is or has what you want.

Let’s examine that next time.

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Posted in Data Sources, Geotargeting, Local Search


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