Archive for the ‘Local Search’ Category

Google’s Pigeon Local Search Update: Local SEO Tools

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

As part of winning in the Business Listings category of the Ad to Action Awards, Rio SEO‘s Bill Connard, VP of local search solutions, will provide monthly insight into the world of search engine optimization (SEO).

We recently contributed to a blog about Google’s new “Pigeon” algorithm update, a major local algorithm change rolled out July 24 affecting Google Maps and local Google search results. Now that the dust has settled, local SEO practitioners can focus on the strategy and tools to prepare for the next inevitable algorithm shake-up.

Google’s algorithms are constantly in a state of flux even outside of the occasional mass-impact update, which is precisely why we advocate for adherence to local SEO best practices. Today we’re going to introduce you to the key local SEO performance indicators you should be tracking, as well as the tools you’ll need to Pigeon-proof your web presence.

How Do You Know If Your Site Was Affected by Google Pigeon?

Local search marketers should be tracking their rankings on an ongoing basis to determine the impact of any algorithm update. Checking your rankings and reviews through automation enables you to track your own standings, as well as your competitors with greater accuracy.

Smart marketers, including many of our clients, measure monthly and therefore have the ability to pinpoint ranking fluctuations and react quickly. Just as importantly, you need to be able to then measure the effects of any actions you take to see if you’re moving in the right direction.

Be sure to track your rankings across “The Big 3″ (Google, Bing, Yahoo). According to comScore, the three major engines together account for over 96 percent of search queries. Google itself processes 65 percent of that activity. However, if you’re only tracking your rankings on Google, you’re missing out on a substantial portion of potential web traffic.

Local SEO KPIs to Track and Measure The Effects of Algorithm Updates

Beyond measuring your rankings, how can you Pigeon-proof your website? Pay attention to these important local SEO key performance indicators:

  1. Rankings on Local Search
  2. Citation Consistency across the Ecosystem
  3. Traffic from Local Sites
  4. Link Activity Analytics
  5. Local Reviews per Location

What Do These Local SEO KPIs Tell You?

In addition to helping you diagnose issues and pinpoint opportunities, tracking and measuring local SEO KPIs alongside rankings across search engines and local sites gives you a great idea of how your SEO efforts are performing as a whole.

  • If you see an increase in rankings, then you’re excelling in SEO (great reviews, citations, content).
  • If you’re retaining rankings, then you are on-par with best practices.
  • If you see a decline in rankings, then the local efforts and activity that you are focusing on are not on-par with best practices.

Tracking and measuring on an ongoing basis gives you the ability to identify when your site has been affected by an algorithm change. You have historical data. Plus, if you’ve automated the process, it’s quite easy to see exactly when and where your site has been affected.

While it’s ideal to have diverse sources of traffic, the reality is that many businesses rely heavily on search engines to send prospects to their website. You can’t afford to suffer a rankings drop along with the subsequent traffic loss and only then go in search of a solution.

Rio SEO has integrated local ranking analytics, which take the legwork out of ranking reports and enable marketers to react quickly to remedy ranking and traffic declines caused by algorithm updates.

In our next blog, we’ll share insights from some of the nation’s leading retailers on the impact Google’s Pigeon algorithm has had on their rankings. Stay tuned! If you’d like to see Rio SEO’s software in action schedule a free demo with a local SEO specialist at www.rioseo.com.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: PaperG

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This week we hear from PaperG, an advertising technology provider that makes it easy to build and distribute cross-device display ads. Companies like Time Warner Cable, Dex Media and Charter Media rely on PaperG to make display advertising work for local advertisers.

We caught up with Victor Wong, CEO of PaperG, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does PaperG solve? How?
Display advertising has historically been an effective branding and customer acquisition channel for only national advertisers. The difficulty and costs of producing, distributing and optimizing the ads were too high for local advertisers.

In addition, with the proliferation of devices (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.) and platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), display advertising has only grown in importance and in use by national advertisers. PaperG’s technology makes it easy for anyone to build, distribute, and optimize ads now — including local advertisers.

What makes PaperG innovative?
PaperG is first in many areas because of our focus on technology as the problem-solver. We are the #1 display ad platform for local because we actually made it possible for sales reps to make their own spec ad — whereas all other ad creation solutions focused only on designers.

We are the first creative platform for teams because we realized that as display got more complicated, more teams were involved in a campaign but each new hand off introduced delays. To get a display campaign off the ground today, you often need a client services team, a campaign manager, an ad ops team, and a production team — that’s a lot of teams.  Consequently, we built a way for teams to work together on a campaign without creating more work for other teams or delaying other teams.

How does PaperG make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
We make the Internet much more local and relevant to consumers by making it possible for local advertisers to get on the websites that consumers spend 95%+ of their time on. Now instead of seeing some junky belly fat reduction ad, we make it possible for you to see high-quality looking ads from your local business which you are much more likely to care about and engage with. We want the ads on the Internet to be much better designed and localized.

What is next in local?
Local is going to see a surge in display advertising opportunities.

  • First, we’re just starting to see smaller advertisers take advantage of “re-targeting” in which they can serve display ads to consumers who have visited their website. It used to cost too much money to build the ad creative and target these consumers but now it’s possible.
  • Second, we’re seeing new forms of display advertising emerge like Facebook which have a lot of interesting new targeting data but also new creative formats.
  • Last, we’re beginning to witness search re-targeting take off where you can target display ads based on what people previously searched for on search engines.

These new targeting abilities will continue to drive digital ad spend on display from the local advertising market.

To learn more, visit www.paperg.com or check out the video below.

PaperG Demo Video from PaperG on Vimeo.

Infographic: Consumers Turning to Mobile & Various Combinations of Local Media in Last Mile

Monday, August 18, 2014

Consumers are using vastly different combinations of local media to inform their purchasing decisions and mobile devices are changing the way consumers interact with local information.  According to our latest edition of the “Local Media Tracking Study” conducted by Burke, between 2012 and 2013, computer/laptop usage for searching for local products and services decreased while mobile phone/smartphone and netbook/tablets both increased.

The study includes interviews with 8,000 U.S. adults conducted online and by phone. The infographic shows that consumers are increasingly turning to mobile devices when seeking, discovering or considering local business information.  With that being said, businesses need to develop integrated advertising and marketing strategies that span across devices.

For more commentary on the study, check out our post on Search Engine Land or take a look at the infographic below:

Consumers Increasingly Turn to Mobile & Varied Media Combinations in Last Mile from Local Search Association

Ifbyphone Webinar Highlights: As Search Goes Mobile, Calls Become the New Clicks

Monday, August 18, 2014

During last week’s webinar, Blair Symes and Angelo Tsakonas of Ifbyphone explained how marketers and agencies are using call tracking technology to optimize ROI from paid search. They talked about which PPC ads, search keywords, and landing pages generate calls and sales – and which don’t and talked about how to filter out bad calls and route good ones to the closest store, office, or agent to maximize sales.

In addition, they showed how to significantly improve marketing ROI from search by tracking, scoring, routing and managing calls in the same way as web conversions.  Here are a few takeaways from the webinar:

  • Search is going mobile and calls are the new clicks.
  • 276 million smartphones in the U.S. by 2017.
  • 50% of mobile searches have local intent.
  • 73 billion inbound sales calls expected from mobile search in 2018.
  • Marketers don’t know what sources make the phone ring.
  • Marketing and sales teams can’t control how inbound calls are routed, scored and managed to optimize conversions.
  • One Ifbyphone customer saw a 200% increase in call conversions by using local phone numbers in paid search campaigns.
  • Call tracking helps marketers understand exactly what marketing sources make the phone ring.
  • Around just 19% of inbound calls are actually high quality calls and/or new leads.

Check out the entire presentation below:

For access to all of our past webinars and a look at what’s to come, visit http://bit.ly/LSAwebinars.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: Ifbyphone

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This week we hear from Ifbyphone, a software provider that enables businesses and agencies to prove and improve marketing ROI by tracking and managing phone leads from any source, including search. For local search specifically, Ifbyphone gives the power to measure PPC ad effectiveness and optimize ROI by not only tracking inbound calls (and the revenue they generate) back to the specific keywords, ads, landing pages, and campaigns that originated them, but also by routing those calls optimally to the right store, office, or sales agent right away.

In addition to the company’s upcoming webinar, we caught up with Ifbyphone’s Demand Generation Manager Blair Symes to learn more:

What local problem(s) does Ifbyphone solve? How?
25% of searches take place on mobile devices today, and that number is expected to surpass PC search by 2015. As search goes mobile, it’s important for marketers and SEM agencies to understand that when smartphone users find a business, they aren’t converting by filling out a web form – they’re calling.

Thanks to click-to-call, Google reports that 61% of mobile searches result in a phone call. 30 billion sales calls were made to businesses in the U.S. last year from mobile search, and that number is expected to reach 75 billion by 2018 (BIA/Kelsey, 2014). Google also reports that half of all mobile searches have local intent.

To compete on search engines like Google and Bing in today’s mobile world, you can’t afford to ignore phone calls in your analytics. Search has become too competitive, and the stakes are too high. It’s why search marketers are now in a race to adopt solutions to measure and control calls the same way they do web conversions.

Keyword-level call tracking solutions like Ifbyphone provide the critical missing piece to your marketing analytics puzzle. While competitors try to outmaneuver you using inaccurate and incomplete SEO and PPC data, you can use call attribution data from Ifbyphone to see what keywords and PPC ad and landing page variations are driving calls, opportunities, and revenue. You can then drive more calls and revenue by optimizing PPC campaigns and bid strategies for the most lucrative keywords, while simultaneously cutting spend on search terms, ads, and landing pages that aren’t driving calls and sales.

What makes Ifbyphone innovative?
While several companies offer call tracking solutions, only Ifbyphone provides keyword-level call tracking plus a full suite of call routing, scoring, and management tools that work once the call comes in to help you optimize ROI from search:

  • Best-in-class reporting available any time: Real-time cloud-based reports gives you detailed insightful on calls you won’t find anywhere else, including call duration, caller’s geography, what web pages they viewed before calling, and more.
  • Integrates with the software you rely on: Include call tracking data in Google Analytics, Universal Analytics, Google AdWords, Salesforce CRM, and bid management tools like Kenshoo, Acquisio, and Marin Software.
  • Filter out bad calls: Send callers to a virtual receptionist first to weed out the ones that aren’t right for sales agents.
  • Score call quality: Use call scoring tools that measure conversation quality for you, record calls to prove value, and more.
  • Route calls optimally: Ifbyphone will automatically route calls based on factors you decide, such as time of day, what PPC campaign drove the call, and caller location. This last piece includes technology called geo-location that uses cell triangulation to route mobile callers to the closest store, office, or agent.
  • Manage call agent activity: Monitor and record call activity for the entire salesforce regardless of agent location, device, or phone system.

How does Ifbyphone make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
Ifbyphone enables advertisers to truly understand how your search marketing generates calls and revenue, either for your own business or for your clients. That data can be used to prove your value to execs or clients and to improve PPC performance to generate better ROI. For consumers, instead of waiting on hold, Ifbyphone’s call scoring technology can provide them with helpful automated phone menus for things like business hours, store locations, or account information right away. It can also route their calls directly to their closest store right away, so they don’t waste time with annoying transfers.

What is next in local?
Calls are what’s now and what’s next. For local search and e-commerce, calls are everything, thanks to smartphones and the rise in mobile search volumes. Search marketers and SEM agencies need to provide callers with a first-class call experience, and that requires tools to handle what happens once calls come in, and that integrate call tracking data with the other marketing applications you rely on to analyze and improve performance. Ifbyphone is the only call tracking provider that has them.

To learn more about Ifbyphone register for the company’s upcoming webinar, visit the Ifbyphone website or email them at contact@ifbyphone.com

SourceTrak™ Call Tracking Software From Ifbyphone from Ifbyphone on Vimeo.

CMOs Investing in Improving Customer Experience via Big Data, Social Media, Content Marketing

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

While there is no denying the power of objective, strong and accurate ROI data, chief marketing officers (CMOs) today are more concerned with a somewhat subjective metric: improving the customer experience.  According to a study by Korn Ferry, the top concern of CMOs (34%) is the creation of sustainable and engaging customer relationships and improving the customer experience.

Demonstrating ROI was still ranked as the top concern by about a quarter of CMOs, but doing so has often proven difficult.  A survey by ITSMA and Vision Edge Marketing (VEM) revealed that while 85% of marketers were under pressure to measure their value or contribution to the business, only 25% were able to measure that impact.  Similarly, a study from Duke Fuqua School of Business, revealed that just 35.7% of CMOs feel that they can prove the short-term impact of marketing spend quantitatively, and 28.6% feel they can prove the long-term impact.

So, CMO’s may be shifting their attention, and their dollars, to something that technology has made easier to measure: customer engagement. Other data from the Korn Ferry study showed that 8 in 10 CMOs report that their organization has increased spend on content marketing, and about the same figure said their social media spend increased compared to last year.

Social media is a natural extension and tool of customer engagement, considering it revolves around the idea of building relationships online, staying connected and growing an audience.  Impressions, clicks, likes, shares, comments, and other social interactions help to make this engagement quantifiable.  In addition, the investment in content marketing represents the growing importance of messaging that is both consistent with brand initiatives and relevant to specific markets and customers.

When it comes to content, Contently found that some 54% of internet users aged 18-65 say they generally don’t trust sponsored content, but some brand content types are better received by consumers than others.  According to the chart below featuring data from a Vibrant Media study, consumers are most receptive to images and videos.

Personalization also plays a major role in creating a better customer experience and big data helps make that happen. The same Korn Ferry study found that nearly one-quarter of CMOs said big data is most effective for personalizing the customer experience.  In addition, a study by Adobe reported that U.S. marketers found personalization to be the most important capability for their marketing efforts moving forward.

All in all, CMO’s are constantly looking for ways to bring value to the business while also being able to prove that value. Fortunately, big data, social media and digital technologies provide new ways to market and advertise, and new ways to measure performance.  It will be interesting to see if, or when, metrics surrounding customer experience and engagement will be directly correlated to actual sales and value for the business.

SoMoConf Speaker Spotlight: Beth Lawton, Founder, Canoe Media Services

Monday, August 11, 2014

For today’s Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! speaker spotlight, we caught up with Beth Lawton, executive director at LION Publishers, a group for local online independent news publishers and founder of Canoe Media Services, a consulting firm focused on social media and content marketing for businesses.

Beth Lawton, Founder, Canoe Media Services

Previously, Beth was a regional editor for Patch.com, digital media manager for the Newspaper Association of American, the founding online editor of MKEonline.com (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and more. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Here is what she had to say about her SoMoConf session titled, “Using Social to Build & Engage Your Audience”:

What are the key topics you’ll discuss during your session?
I’m looking forward to talking about some of the newer social networks — some of those that might be “under the radar” for the news companies — and how thinking creatively can yield interesting, productive audience results.

What about your session are you most excited about?
I’m excited about getting questions — I love hearing audience members bring up new ideas for everyone’s benefit and the brainstorming-out-loud aspect of it.

Why is it important that attendees not miss your session?
Social media is still important for audience development and revenue, but there’s no doubt it’s getting more complex every day. Attending this session will help editors and advertising professionals stay on top of the latest information about organic social media reach and more.

What is your favorite social network and why?
I use different social networks for very different reasons. Pinterest has been useful with interior design and event planning, but I can keep up with my family and friends and stumble across interesting news through Facebook.

We are just 9 days away from SoMoConf so click here to learn more or register now!

Shift to Video Continues with New Yelp and Facebook Updates

Friday, August 8, 2014

Video continues to take a central role online for consumers and publishers.  A 2014 Cisco study predicts that by 2018, 79% of all Internet traffic will be video – and Yelp and Facebook are working to accelerate that growth.

Yelp recently introduced a new feature allowing users to post 3-12 second videos related to local businesses in order to better capture ambiance, lighting, noise and other features that are hard to capture with photos.  Currently, the feature is only accessible on the Yelp app for iPhone users but is expected to be available for Android soon. 

Image Source: Business Insider

Bringing the sights, sounds and motion from a local businesses to the digital world is going to be extremely helpful for a wide range of verticals. According to a study by Animoto, 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching videos explaining a product or service.  In addition, Yelp users post around 23,000 photos each day, and that kind of activity should help the review site generate video content at a similarly rapid pace.

While Yelp does provide some tips and examples of what a good video looks like, the downside to the feature is that there doesn’t seem to be much the company can do in regards to video quality.  On the other hand, poor quality videos should be less a reflection of the business and more so of the uploader.

Facebook is also putting some effort into growing the influence and overall presence of videos on the social network.  In March this year, Facebook introduced a new video ad unit that is 15 seconds long and runs inside a user’s news feed. The ads automatically play without sound and when clicked, they expand to fill the screen with sound.

With Facebook’s often cited 1.5 million small and medium-sized business advertisers, the introduction of these ads may seem like a big win for Facebook and SMBs alike, but it hasn’t happened yet.  The ads are still in preliminary stages and according to a story on Re/code, Facebook is running tests and working to get users ready for the full roll out of these ads by showing more autoplay videos in the news feed.

“We have to get the consumer experience right, and autoplay is obviously a big deal,” Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of small businesses, told Re/code.

The time table isn’t clear, but much of the testing of the new ad format is taking place with the help and ad dollars of big brands.  The cost for these ads are well outside the typical SMB ad budget, with Mashable saying in February that ads start at $600,000.

The continuing shift towards video content for consumers and publishers alike is changing the complexion of the digital world. And this shift is only being accelerated as big names like Yelp and Facebook invest in video solutions and products.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: MapQuest

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This week we hear from MapQuest, one of the leading mapping brands online, that reaches more than 43 million multi-platform users. MapQuest provides Internet, mobile and business solutions delivering on the promise of helping people dream, plan, share and go wherever the map meets their life. MapQuest’s mobile solutions are compatible with a variety of mobile devices, including iPhone, Android and Amazon devices.  MapQuest is a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and is based in Denver, Colo.

We caught up with Andy McMahon, product director at MapQuest, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does MapQuest solve? How?
For nearly two decades, MapQuest has been helping people navigate their lives with maps, directions and recommendations on how to get from A to B, and the many places in between.  Though we’ve always been known for road trips and road travel, the majority of our 1 billion searches each month are for “local discovery” or within 50 miles of point of origin.  Since we know folks use us for local discovery, we focus on delivering the right information at the right time in the right way.

What makes MapQuest innovative?
It’s for our consumers that MapQuest started as an Internet company in 1996, following our legacy as cartographers going back to the ’60s.  To bring our maps online, we literally had to unplug the coffee maker and plug-in our server.  We’ve come a long way since then and these days we’re the No. 2 map provider across all devices, having launched both our re-imagined free navigation apps late last year and in April, we launched a new local interface that puts the map, canvas and details center stage.

We’ve also partnered with a myriad of organizations to expand and complete our functionalities.  From Yelp to Foursquare and MLB.com to SeatGeek, we want folks to have the context, the information and the ability to transact when the time is right for them. And there’s quite a bit more in store from an innovation standpoint, so stay tuned.

How does MapQuest make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
We work very hard to key in on meaningful data — the kind of data that helps us create the best advertising solutions for buyers and address pain points for our consumers.  Additionally, our enterprise customers appreciate our geo-codes that help them deliver hot pizzas to hungry consumers and get contractors through their daily itineraries.

Local discovery is certainly about knowing your options and having the information that helps you select the best one for you, but we feel our job is to empower users to make better decisions based on a more relevant preference.  To help with those #everydayvictories.

What is next in local?
We’re currently working on creating a new search experience that encompasses more relevancy factors while also learning from user behavior.  Local Search needs to be a lot more flexible and handle different platforms in different ways – a mobile user is different from a desktop user, even when that user is the same person.

At MapQuest we aggregate local information from a variety of sources and are always looking for more partners who have high quality and valuable local data.  Understanding where people are going, be it via a mobile device or even a printed map, is something we’re able to use to make the overall experience in local more valuable.

For more visit http://company.mapquest.com or contact Andy at andrew.mcmahon@mapquest.com.

Call Tracking for Local Search: What Every Marketer Should Know

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Please join LSA and Ifbyphone for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, August 14 from 2 pm – 3 pm ET.

During this webinar search experts from Ifbyphone will explain how marketers and agencies are using call tracking technology to optimize ROI from paid search. They will share which PPC ads, search keywords, and landing pages generate calls and sales – and which don’t and will explain how to filter out bad calls and route good ones to the closest store, office, or agent to maximize sales. In addition, they will show how to significantly improve marketing ROI from search by tracking, scoring, routing and managing calls in the same way as web conversions.

Ifbyphone provides the leading voice-based marketing automation (VBMA) platform that businesses and marketing agencies rely on to connect, measure and optimize sales calls. Built specifically for marketing and sales, Ifbyphone’s cloud-based solution helps companies of all sizes optimize marketing spend across all channels, generate and convert more high-quality leads and acquire more business over the phone.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!