Mike Blumenthal needs no introduction to anyone who pays close attention to Google Places and the rest of the crazy world of local search.
If you’re reading this, either you’re already a fan of Professor Maps (as he’s known) and his blog, or you’re becoming one.
I’ve read his posts throughout my local-search career so far. I’m not alone when I say they’ve been a huge influence on my thinking, to say the least.
The only trouble is: of the 2400+ posts Mike has done so far, it’s hard to know where to start, or which posts are the most evergreen.
That’s why I asked some of the longest-time / hardest-core readers of Mike’s blog what their all-time favorite posts are. They also added some great commentary.
Even this list of favorites probably has the shelf life of sushi, given how much Mike publishes (see the July 2014 storm of posts). But it’s still worth a try.
Here are the top picks of some long-time readers:
This is an oldie from 2008. I’ve always remembered this post for the picture it painted of how marketing looks and feels to a small business owner. The story told in this interview should help any marketer to act with empathy and great respect when supporting hard-working SMBs. I admire Mike’s ability to surface interesting man-on-the-street stories like this one.
Remember the great Google review loss fiasco of 2012? Mike not only wrote great posts like the above helping marketers to support clients who had lost reviews, but he also came up with the idea of consolidating as many complaints as possible onto a Google And Your Business Forum help thread. I would bet I’m not alone in saying that Mike’s work has made me feel less alone during many Local crises!
Years of experience in Local and Mike’s one-of-a-kind insight are beautifully showcased in this piece. This is what we’ve all come to rely on Mike for, over the years. Just fantastic! Hats off to you, Mike – it’s been a privilege learning from you for the better part of a decade!
No one, and I mean no one, has chronicled the evolution of Google’s local and mapping products more closely than Mike Blumenthal. The man probably knows more about legacy systems and rationale for why things are built the way they are than all but a few product managers at Google.
Small business owners and the search community — possibly even the world of local searchers — owe Mike a debt of gratitude for helping make local search at Google what it is today. He has been a positive thorn in Mountain View’s side, exhorting Google to improve their products to a level where they are actually usable by small business owners and searchers — a task that continues even today in the aftermath of the “crappy” Pigeon update.
The fact that business owners finally have a usable interface from which to manage their listings, the option of phone support, and countless other amenities is due in no small part to Mike’s direct and indirect feedback to Google (and the tireless efforts of internal SMB advocates like Joel Headley and Jade Wang).
I’m proud to call Mike a friend for almost seven years (!) since first discovering his blog.
Here are some of my favorite Blumenthal articles:
My experience is that in the early years after a new patent one often sees the most dramatic impact of those patents. Before Google makes algo changes. They are crucial to follow. Mike has done a great job on those issues.
2. The annual Loci articles. Very thoughtful pieces from guest authors. A worthwhile element of his blog.
3. In a general context Mike jumped on the review issues early on. He’s covered it and dissected it with clarity. Of the many many articles referencing reviews the one that stuck with me were the two articles about the dentist in Washington State. Those stories added an astonishing human element to the overall review saga, in particular, if one believes the dentist’s side of the story it revealed a “fatal attraction” kind of element to reviews. Really amazing human drama connected to the business function of trying to respond to reviews. That was fascinating.
Chances are I have missed A LOT of extremely important posts, but I tried very hard to keep the number under 20
Mike Blumenthal is rightfully the top authority in local search in the last 5+ years. His infinite energy and will to look for answers, to share thoughts, to inform the community, and to urge development where improvement is needed are hardly matched by anyone in the Internet marketing world. Mike’s articles on local search, Google Maps, Google Places, review strategies, small business marketing, and Google-related issues have been the first ones I started reading while I was still “learning how to walk” in the industry. As I joined the game a little later (early 2011), the majority of my favorite articles of Mike are naturally from the period after that.
Mike’s articles are both informational and raising questions and topics for discussion. His word is so influential that he has frequently provoked revisions of strategies in the SEO world, as well as urgent processual or technical changes within companies such as Google, for instance. I believe our industry is happy to have him, and I hope he will stick around for many more years.
I have to start with one of Mike’s very first posts - The Basics of Listings Success. As he put it back then:
“Unlike optimization for organic search, optimization for local search at the major engines is in a much less developed state. It seems to have many fewer people poking, prodding and testing the hypothesis of local search and coming up with a definitive set of best practices. This is list is an attempt to create that model that we can all test. Have a go and let me know.”
Every couple of years a new wild west emerges via the Web. This post documents a time when Local still had room in it for wide-eyed optimism and Mike’s eyes proved to be both the widest and the narrowest at the same time. Getting a bit misty…
Of course I loved when he first started acknowledging how screwed up this Local stuff was for small businesses, in his own inimitable style. From the classic “Local Data Accuracy – a Veritable Beehive“:
“The group is a regular beehive of activity with a surprising amount of input from small business owners. But it is a beehive in which the keeper just stuck his hand into the hive and stirred things up by sticking the bees in the wrong place and the bees are mad!”
I think Mike’s post about the difference between ValPak’s coupons and everyone else’s in Google Maps was when I first started to be in awe of Mike’s obsession with the minutiae of Local. I mean who else was writing about the pixel size of fucking coupons at that point?
If I had to pick a favorite, it probably has to be Google Local: Train Wreck at the Junction. Mike seems to be pretty tight with the Google Local team, or at least as tight as they can be with anybody. And still Mike cannot stop speaking truth to power as it were. While there have been plenty of SEO bloggers bitching and moaning about Google Local’s shortcomings, this post solidified his rep as perhaps its finest critic.
And of course any post mentioning Barbara Oliver, one of Buffalo’s finest jewelers, is always a winner.
This is too tough. But I’ll channel my inner monk-like ascetic powers and name only 7 posts (in no particular order):
Infographic: Citations – Time to Live – a joint research project / post with Mr. David Mihm
To sum up all thoughts on Mike’s posts:
What are your favorites so far?
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