Local search is such a rapidly evolving part of the local advertising space. Here are some interesting quips from a panel made up of Raj Nijjer, senior director product management at GoDaddy; Gideon Rubin, CMO at Local Market Launch; Will Scott, CEO at Search Influence; Andrew Shotland, Principal at Local SEO Guide; Azim Tejani, Chief Revenue Office at YaSabe; and Taylor Treese, CEO at Media Traks:
Q: What are the most dramatic changes you’ve witnessed this year?
Azim – YaSabe has seen an incredible shift in the Hispanic community to mobile. Mobile use has increased from 30% to 70%. Yes, that’s not a typo: 70%. Hispanics are 15% more likely to have mobile phone than the normal consumer.
Will – The need for SMB’s to diversify marketing away from just Google organic search results is so much greater. Yelp has taken a big bite out of Google’s market share. The definition of SEO is changing and now includes presence on social media and third party sites.
Gideon – There is a change in attitude and awareness by the SMB’s of their need to be online. They may not understand all the products, but they know it is needed. There’s also a priority change in search – it isn’t just about SEO and ranking anymore. Rather, the importance is in being (online) where your consumers are searching. Local ranking is the key.
Q: What should SMBs be focused on in local search?
Gideon – Only 1 ½% of SMB’s submit a business description which hurts when a consumer is doing a discovery search for a product or service as opposed to a company specific search. Whichever search is being performed, the need is to be found. Businesses need to be concerned with business listings being complete because they really serving as a de facto landing page.
Raj – Many companies not optimizing for brand. So GoDaddy is working on optimizing for 3 things through their SEO service: category of service/product, brand, and location. Customers also are often searching by neighborhood, not by city. So businesses are requesting that local names/neighborhoods be included in listings but not all directories or search products can accommodate that.
Will – People forget that Google did the Venice update (Nov. 2012) that makes search results much more locally optimized and focused. Content is key. Companies that don’t generate content are getting destroyed and agencies that don’t generate content for their clients are getting destroyed. So how do we address this problem? Develop content – it isn’t hard. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Just original and relevant. You are being rewarded for frequency and for being social. Content might just be a check-in.
Azim – Agree – content needs to be authentic. YaSabe focuses on Latin culture, food, fashion. These are things that are social content. There are some topics that aren’t social – e.g. divorce lawyers. Engagement such as comments and likes do affect SEO.
Will – Sponsored posts (paid posts) should drive greater traffic which will greatly affect SEO.
Taylor – Lifestyle content like spas, health tips, diets all do well on social search.
Q: Updating directory listings – is there a one size fits all package?
Gideon– Recommends businesses use Factual, Axciom, Infogroup and Localeze as a total syndication solution and also claim their profiles through services like Local Market Launch.
Azim – YaSabe found that only 20-25% of SMB’s had a FB page and only about 10% had active engagement. Hispanic business numbers were higher – about 20% more. Conjecture is that the number is higher because of the Hispanic culture’s emphasis on local community. Mobile also has a greater amount of social engagement so with the higher percent of Hispanics that own mobile devices, it makes sense that there’s a greater percentage of Hispanics that are engaged socially. 20% of US community is Hispanic, but only 5% of advertising spend is targeted at Hispanics. Seems like a good opportunity for growth.
Q: What do you think about enhanced campaigns?
Taylor – Google’s enhanced campaigns cannot be targeted by device.
Q: What will happen in the space in the next 6 months or 1 year?
Azim – Innovations in discovery and the ability for businesses to get more info out about themselves
Raj – Greater emphasis on international business (for GoDaddy)
Will – Diversification is key; social signals and engagement; and more content is needed. In 2014 everyone will become a publisher.
Taylor – Businesses and the agencies that help them can’t just focus on search engines. There are so many other ways that businesses are found like on FB or smaller niche sites
Gideon– Digital is only 18% of market space so that’s still small. Basic things haven’t happened across the market, but that will change. There will finally be market penetration for fundamental digital tools.