4 Ways Developers Can Reduce Data Noise to Create Great Local Search Experiences

noise-megaphoneWith competing streams of data sources, developers must be able to filter data noise and distinguish accurate business points for local search results and other mapping features when they build mobile apps, social sites, or local directories.

Many biases, including advertising, influence the sanctity of a business listing's identity - commonly a business' name, address, and phone number (NAP) - creating a challenge for developers trying to use this information to create an engaging user experience.

When building mobile apps, social sites, or local search directories, an accurate set of local search business points must be used to build the foundational place index. App developers can then layer different types of data on that foundation without influencing the sanctity of the NAP.

Noisy or compromised data can sometimes present a challenge however. Some data becomes biased when companies develop a business identity with user-generated content, check-ins, and advertising.

Here are some best practices to follow when creating a location-based solution, app, and site that will help developers avoid the noise:

1. Supplement Advertising Content With Business Listings

Application developers often fall into the trap of solely using advertising listings to build their data set. While advertising listings can be a source of supplemental content, they shouldn't be used at the foundational level.

If an advertising listing is the basis for a business representation in an index, the listing and associated descriptive content could disappear if the business stops advertising.

2. Standardize Category Structure

A standard category schema allows for efficient browsing and sharing of content. Data needs to be either mapped to industry standards or segmented and shared through well-known categories.

While creating unique category names might enhance the presentation layer, content should be mapped to a universal classification system within the index.

Also, the presentation layer needs to be compatible with other data to give developers the ability to use all location data available including advertising, user-generated content, and more.

3. Don't Mistake Crowdsourced Data for Anchor Identities

Crowdsourcing local content is a way to generate content from multiple geographies and vertical industries, like restaurants and travel, but it has limitations.

If developers only access user-generated content it can be challenging to confirm that data sets are up-to-date, complete, and accurate because this content generally takes on user bias - and even mistakes including the wrong business name or insufficient address details.

Additionally, crowdsourced information doesn't usually produce a wealth of detail for less popular geographies and industries beyond entertainment, travel, and health/beauty.

Instead, app developers should access a set of normalized data to categorize a complete set of local businesses.

4. Tap a Widely Used Source of Business Listings

Tapping a repository of business listings that is widely used and accepted in the marketplace enables app developers to layer in other datasets.

It also allows for taking advantage of the diverse array of business data including name, address, and phone number details and descriptive content like Yelp reviews, Foursquare check-ins, and Groupon offers that are available in the local search ecosystem.

Summary

App developers who want to hone in on the value of local search should avoid business listings' noise and create a single and dynamic business identity for users starting with the business NAP. This includes understanding the strength of a business listing and the bias that might be influencing that listing (e.g., advertising, user-generated content, etc.).

If bias or mistakes aren't resolved, user experience of an app or site can be tarnished, affecting overall usage. By realizing the industry definition of points of interest and business listings, app developers will be able to better satisfy users and monetize their site or app.

About the author

Jeff Beard is General Manager & Senior Vice President of Localeze, a Neustar service. A listings management veteran, Jeff is responsible for leading Localeze's long-term strategic vision while driving growth, new-product and business development. In 2005, Jeff led an initiative focused on building information products targeted at the local search industry. From this initiative, Localeze was created. Localeze has quickly become the largest business listings identity manager for local search.

Prior to Localeze, Jeff served as vice president of corporate development at TARGUSinfo, where he led the company through its acquisition of Amacai, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of TARGUSinfo. Jeff was a key player in Amacai's 2001 launch and was primarily responsible for the operation and management of all business units. Prior to joining TARGUSinfo, Jeff spent 13 years at Acxiom Corporation, where he held a variety of sales, sales leadership and product positions.