Cakes and Local Search

Need a cake for a special occasion? Want a one-of-a-kind cake that really stands out? Here in the Bay Area you can go to Studio Cake with nothing more than an idea and you will get something really unique and tasty in return.

The picture below is the birthday cake we had yesterday, my wife gave BethAnn a picture she printed from the Web and a stuffed toy to use as a model, and BethAnn delivered it to our house yesterday morning. Not only is it visually impressive, it tasted fantastic as well. It’s all edible, even the “dirt and rocks” which were of course a big hit with the boys. BethAnn Goldberg applies her unique mix of creative ability and structural engineer training to make anything possible.

Why am I posting this? I like to support people and small businesses in my community and this is one way I can do it in addition to giving them my business. Small business success is critically dependent on word-of-mouth advertising and for local consumers it is not a matter of intention but rather knowledge of local businesses that leads to a transaction.

For all of the advances we have made with online technologies, the fact remains that local context is incredibly lacking. Local search engines from Yahoo and Google are really poor as a consequence of their business model (advertising based) and natural language processing limitations. Search on any category or keyword and I can guarantee you that the most interesting businesses are not listed. Try it yourself, Yahoo Local for “custom cakes” doesn’t list Studio Cake, and neither does Google local.

Review sites like Yelp do marginally better but the weakness in their model has always been a dependency on a small number of people who actually write reviews outside of big categories like travel, hospitality, and restaurants. Again, the search granularity comes into play for categories that are not well defined, such as “one of those jumper things for kids birthday parties.”

We have a long way to go before anyone declares a winner against the venerable yellow pages, but if you live on the Peninsula and need a cake, I got you covered.


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