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It’s not a secret that Google Maps has solidified its place as the dominant entry point for local search. In fact, a new consumer survey from Brandify found that 77% of respondents use Google Maps to find “near me” business information well ahead of other sites.

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Source:Search Engine Land

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Yext, the Search Experience Cloud company, released new research about American consumer search behavior during the past year. The data, drawn from a sample of more than 400,000 business locations in the United States, revealed new insights about when consumers are searching for and clicking most on businesses across retail, healthcare, financial services, and food, throughout the year.

Among the key findings:

Consumers are only getting more active in search: Consumer actions in business listings — driving directions clicks, clicks to call businesses, and more — grew 17% over the past year.

Search — and searchers — are getting better: Consumer actions in search grew faster (17%) than search impressions of business listings (10%) over the year, suggesting that customers are finding what they want faster. Whether searchers are learning to use more specific queries or search engines are getting better at understanding those queries, customers are spending less time searching and more time engaging with businesses.

Reviews are on the rise: Consumers are leaving more reviews about businesses. Review count per business location grew 27% over the year. In fact, financial services review volume grew 91% per location, the fastest growth of any industry. Businesses are getting savvier about the importance of reviews as well, responding to reviews 47% more than the year prior.

 

Source: Search Engine Watch

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Last week, when Google gobbled up Fitbit in a $2.1 billion acquisition, the talk was mostly about what the company would do with all that wrist-jingling and power-walking data. It’s no secret that Google’s parent Alphabet—along with fellow giants Apple and Facebook—is on an aggressive hunt for health data. But it turns out there’s a cheaper way to get access to it: Teaming up with healthcare providers.

On Monday, https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-s-secret-project-nightingale-gathers-personal-health-data-on-millions-of-americans-11573496790"}" href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-s-secret-project-nightingale-gathers-personal-health-data-on-millions-of-americans-11573496790" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">the Wall Street Journal reported details on Project Nightingale, Google’s under-the-radar partnership with Ascension, the nation’s second-largest health system. The project, which reportedly began last year, includes sharing the personal health data of tens of millions of unsuspecting patients. The bulk of the work is being done under Google’s Cloud division, which has been developing AI-based services for medical providers.

Source: Wired

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Facebook’s  latest transparency report is out.

The social media giant said the number of government demands for user data increased by 16% to 128,617 demands during the first half of this year compared to the second half of last year.

That’s the highest number of government demands it has received in any reporting period since it published its first transparency report in 2013.

The U.S. government led the way with the most number of requests — 50,741 demands for user data resulting in some account or user data given to authorities in 88% of cases. Facebook said two-thirds of all the U.S. government’s requests came with a gag order, preventing the company from telling the user about the request for their data.

Source: TechCrunch

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Telephone directory service has gone through a massive upheaval over the past year. Jingle Networks was able to take about 6% of the market and a patent with their Free 411 service. However, what started with Jingle Networks has exploded to a wider field of competition including heavyweights like Google and AT&T. But now, rather unceremoniously, Microsoft has finally gotten into the mix by launching their own free directory service, Live Search 411, this week. The announcement was mixed in with a few other notes about visual enhancements across their maps services. In contrast, Google has been visibly promoting their effort.

Source: TechCrunch via Yahoo

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