Archive for the ‘Local Search’ Category

YP’s Mobile Properties Attract Users with Spending Power

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

With more than 10 million downloads of its mobile app and approximately 30 million monthly unique visits across its app and mobile websites, YP.com offers advertisers a great way to reach consumers searching for local business information via their mobile devices.

Not only does YP.com attract a strong cross-section of users, but those users trend younger and carry some serious spending power.  The typical YP.com mobile user is between 25-44 years old and makes more than $75,000 annually, according to the latest comScore MobiLens data, although the site has users across all age and income groups.

Source: comScore MobiLens May 2014

Source: comScore MobiLens May 2014

Last year, YP reported $378 million in mobile ad revenue and noted that half of its audience came from mobile devices. Recently, YP CEO David Krantz was quoted as saying, “we were mobile before mobile was cool” – a claim that seems to be validated by the company’s strong mobile performance indicators.

YP is continuing to attract mobile users and driving mobile ad revenue with new mobile offerings, such as its recently released offering, My Book. An alternative to reviews and tips, this new tool allows both mobile and desktop users to create and manage lists of their favorite businesses. With this data, YP is able to provide users with recommendations based on the number of “favorites” each business has.

Krantz has been very public in his comments regarding the importance of YP’s mobile strategy – and rightfully so. Mobile local searches are driving consumer actions and continue to transform the way consumers interact with local business information. In addition, since YP’s mobile properties are attracting users with spending power, they are poised to remain a major local player that offers strong results for advertisers.

Google Turns Local Product Searches into Delivery Business

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

To date, Google product searches have delivered fairly relevant local results, but have failed to translate those results into actual purchases.  Now, Google is introducing a new platform to that helps consumers move from product searches to real-life transactions.

The offering, called Google Shopping Express, allows consumers to buy products from several major participating retailers through Google’s interface. In turn, Google will take a single-digit percentage cut of each transaction and then deliver the purchased product from the physical retail store to the consumer on the same or next day. Instead of operating massive warehouses and store inventory – along the lines of Amazon – Google simply acts as a facilitator of local product transactions.

Currently, the service offers products from the likes of Target, Costco, Toys “R” Us and Whole Foods, and is operational in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. A source told Re/code that Google execs have set aside around $500 million to expand the service nationwide. According to Tom Fallows, head of Google Shopping Express, the company is “willing to sustain that investment over time as this gets going.”

While there is the obvious benefit of using Google to help sell local products, it will be interesting to see how they incorporate small retailers in the mix.  At this point, the service looks well suited for retailers that offer specialty, one-of-a-kind goods that aren’t available anywhere else. On the other hand, the local drug store with common brand name products might struggle to compete with the pricing flexibility of national chains like Walgreens.

Once again, it looks like small local retailers face an uphill battle when it comes to competing with the influence of national retailers.  If Google plans to continue this partnership model for Google Shopping Express, we can only assume that the national brands will have priority over small local retailers that offer the same products with less reach.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this new Google offering resonates in the market and what impact it has on local product sales.

Think Tank Chicago: Exploring Local Advertising on a Dark and Stormy Night

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ryan Vaspra, SVP of product and operations at Sightly, shares his thoughts on our recent Think Tank Chicago event which brought together local advertising leaders from companies including Facebook, YP, R/GA, Twitter, MediaVest, Ifbyphone, Marquette Group, Cars.com, Where 2 Get It, CityGrid Media and SMG Local Spectrum. The group discussed exciting new ideas and trends in local that have the potential to take our industry to the next level.

As lightning flashed and thunder crashed outside the 80th floor windows of the Aon Building in downtown Chicago, a group of local marketing thought leaders convened for dinner and spirited discussion – an industry “Think Tank,” graciously hosted by the Local Search Association.

The group was comprised of a diverse set of executives from agencies, publishers, media, and technology companies like Sightly, the online video ad tech company I represent.

The theme of the evening was an exploration of “how local advertisers are using various media outlets to drive clicks, calls and store visits,” what the LSA introduced this year as “Last Mile Advertising.”

From the offset, the discussion focused on what local advertisers want from marketing and advertising solutions and what providers’ pricing should be.

Many participants didn’t feel our industry necessarily needs to provide “free or nearly free” solutions for SMBs as incentives for them to try our products, especially if the value is evident. Simple? Yes.  Effective? Yes.  But simple and effective solutions are rarely free or inexpensive.

Some agency executives felt it’s our job to provide fairly priced, effective solutions but not worry about saving all SMBs from their competitors. In local business, those who are smart, savvy and willing to learn are usually the ones that survive. Conversely, to paraphrase one exec, “Those who don’t get it, usually don’t get that they don’t get it.”

Finally, our best takeaway was that the group felt agencies and service providers provide value by bundling and integrating marketing solutions. Otherwise, SMBs tend to “hopscotch” from tactic to tactic, treating each marketing solution as a stand-alone solution. In reality, bundled solutions create a much more valuable multi-touch, integrated marketing presence for the SMB in its local market than any individual tactic does at any given time.

It was a one-of-a-kind event and LSA brought together a very impressive and influential group of professionals from a diverse set of locally focused companies. The intimate setting made it easy for us to dive deep into the issues impacting the local space.  With such varied experiences and perspectives in one room, we came away from the meeting with insights that are extremely valuable for the future of local.

The Local Listing Management Hat-trick: Optimized Data, Listing Syndication and Roll-Up Reporting

Thursday, July 10, 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).

Last month, I praised major data aggregators for their contributions to the accelerated evolution of local search. Capitalizing on their overall benefits requires a three-prong approach.

One of those prongs, roll-up reporting, is often the missing link for top brands trying to better understand how their optimized, syndicated local data is performing in organic search across the key search engines, niche directories, mobile apps, in-car GPS devices, and review sites.  Reporting is the last of three key components that make up the local listing management hat-trick:

    1. Cleansing and optimization of brand data.
    2. Syndication and distribution of that optimized data to the entire local search ecosystem.
    3. Roll-up reporting of data correctness and changes to listings.

Despite the tedious analysis of massive amounts of granular data, most marketers are still without proper insight into what is or is not working with local SEO.  Automated reporting and adherence to best practices addresses these issues, especially when managing hundreds or even thousands of locations.

Cleansing Inaccurate Business Listings Address Poor User Experiences and Dissatisfaction

Ensuring local business information accuracy is a must, as incorrect information can prevent consumers doing a search, from finding your business or worse, going to a competitor.

Regularly reporting your presence across major search engines and the local search ecosystem ensures accuracy and delivering on user expectations. Features like citation tracking and monitoring provide brand insight into what is being displayed and where. Any inaccuracies can then be tackled individually or in bulk.

Syndication/Distribution of Optimized Data = Control and Valuable Backlinks

Once companies have cleansed their local data of incorrect business listing information, they’re ready to syndicate their location information to:

  • Google+ Local;
  • Yahoo Local;
  • Bing Maps; and
  • Top data aggregators (Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual).

Syndicating or submitting clean, consistent local business information to the top aggregators is key to driving measurable ROI around targeted products and services in hyper-local markets. Data aggregators give brands ultimate control over their listings and add search engine validation, while building more backlinks and completeness of profiles and ultimately increasing search rankings. Marketers who automate this process are best positioned to drive brand campaigns and strategies through their local listings.

To get a quick start, read this local SEO guide to listing syndication.

Roll-Up Reporting Means Powerful Search Ranking Intelligence

In any online campaign, marketers need effective tools to track, measure and report on all activity and results. Top brands are quickly adopting local reporting solutions to gain a 30,000-foot view and track local successes across the major search engines, data aggregators, and niche directories by location.

The following items should be tracked to measure local SEO success and ROI:

  • Ranking on search engines
  • Local search rankings
  • Citation consistency across the ecosystem
  • Traffic from all engines, directories, and niche sites
  • Link activity analytics, driving directories, coupons, click-to-call, etc.
  • Number of reviews per location on Google+, Yelp, Yahoo, etc.
  • Average review ratings on Google+, Yelp, Yahoo, etc.

Both organic and local search rankings should be tracked to give marketers a complete view of their search performance down to specific locations and the ability to monitor search rankings for targeted keywords as well as competitors – over time. Knowledge is power; having this level of intelligence and hyper-local insight at your disposal makes each and every business and marketing decision that much more informed. For more insight on local search reporting, join our live webinar Tuesday, July 15, or after that date go to www.rioseo.com to view a recording.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: Google

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

This week we caught up with Oliver Vidinovski, strategic partner manager of premier partnerships channel sales North America at Google, to learn more about Google’s SMB Channel Sales Partner Program: 

What local problem(s) does Google solve? How?
Local business is a big part of the Google Channel Sales team. With 63% of SMBs in the market not having a website, it’s critical to assist local businesses in becoming digitally engaged. We do this through our partner network, lovingly known as the Google SMB Channel Sales Partner Program.

“The Channel Sales Partner program represents a strategic alliance between Google and a number of hand-picked top-tier companies & organisations who market, sell, and service Google’s digital advertising products to SMBs, enabling them to diversify and expand their revenue base.”

What makes Google innovative?
Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. We provide solutions to our advertisers across mobile, search, video and display to help them with their advertising goals and help them get found across Google’s properties.

How does Google make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
Through Google’s Partner Program, local businesses have access to our partners who are trusted digital media advisors that help these businesses become digitally engaged.

What is next in local?
Google is a mobile first company. The next wave of exposure is across mobile and multiple devices. Being present in the NOW (or what we call the “Zero Moment of Truth”) is paramount to the success of local business and their advertising. Here are a few infographics that highlight this changing landscape:

To learn more check out Google’s Mobile Playbook and for more info on Google’s SMB Channel Sales Partner Program, you can contact Oliver at ovidinovski@google.com.

SoMoConf to Provide Local Media with Latest on Social and Mobile Opportunities

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

As digital advertising spend continues to chip away at traditional media spend, many local media organizations are looking for new sources of revenue and ways to serve their clients. Social and mobile solutions provide these organizations with a variety of new opportunities to expand their product line and help SMBs attract new customers.

We are excited to partner with Borrell Associates and the Local Media Association for the upcoming “Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money!” conference, taking place August 20th-21st in Chicago.

At this year’s event, we’ll hear from the heaviest hitters in social and mobile, digital agencies and clients on the best ways to make money from these platforms.  The event also promises superb networking by bringing together professionals from three leading local media organizations, along with a variety of receptions and other ways to get to know one another.

Notable speakers will include:

  • Ted Zagat, Ads, Facebook
  • Lutz Finger, Director Data Science & Data Engineering, LinkedIn
  • Joel Meek, Head of Partner Online Sales & Operations, Pinterest
  • PJ MacGregor, Brand Development Lead, Instagram
  • Greg Stuart, Global CEO, Mobile Marketing Association
  • Luke Edson, VP of National Markets, YP
  • And many more…

So if you work for a local media organization and you want to learn what your colleagues are doing to grow digital revenues, SoMoConf is for you. You’re bound to make some new connections and leave with fresh ideas on how to drive sales.  Click here to learn more.

SoMoConf Speakers to Uncover the ROI in Social Media Advertising

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Not every ad works. Despite the tremendous adoption of social media, ads on these platforms aren’t guaranteed to drive engagement. Fortunately, at this year’s Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! event,  we are bringing together speakers that will share best practices and success stories on ways to sell, monetize and drive advertiser results on social media.

Among the attendees will be representatives from the world’s largest social media networks including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.  These reps will highlight their current advertising offerings and offer counsel on how to get the most out of their platforms.

We are excited to once again partner with Borrell Associates and the Local Media Association for this event, which is scheduled for August 20-21 in Chicago. Check out this video with messages from each of our organizations about what to expect:

As mentioned, we’ve booked some influential speakers who include:

  • Ted Zagat, Ads, Facebook
  • Lutz Finger, Director Data Science & Data Engineering, LinkedIn
  • Joel Meek, Head of Partner Online Sales & Operations, Pinterest
  • PJ MacGregor, Brand Development Lead, Instagram
  • Greg Stuart, Global CEO, Mobile Marketing Association
  • And many more…

We are less than 2 months away and look forward to seeing you there.  Register here or for more information, click here.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: Marquette Group

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today we hear from Marquette Group, a cross-channel, digital agency managing marketing and advertising efforts for a long list of brands, including Edward Jones, ServiceMaster, Bank of America, Roto-Rooter and Nationwide Insurance. The Company began in 1963 as a Yellow Pages agency and over the years has successfully made the transition to digital. Marquette Group is headquartered in Peoria, Illinois with offices in Atlanta, St. Louis and Milwaukee. They recently placed among the 2014 Best Places to Work in Illinois.

We caught up with David Lenzen, EVP sales and marketing at Marquette Group, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does Marquette solve? How?
We’re in good company when we say that erroneous and missing data is a significant concern in the local space. It’s pervasive and the reason we focus intently on data management.

We find that brands typically don’t have a strong platform or strategy for collecting and using localized content. Meanwhile, at the SMB level, the challenge is recognizing the need then finding time to manage and create content across the platforms where consumers are looking–Yelp, Google+, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.

We offer the strategy, the platform, the content management, and of course, the performance analytics for brands and their locations.

What makes Marquette innovative?
We bring innovation to both campaign strategy and the technological developments needed to meet those strategies. Strategic innovation includes not just a client-specific, but location-specific understanding of goals and market nuances. We then construct the marketing programs with a unique mix of providers’ digital products combined with our own search solutions and proprietary client location data management systems.

How does Marquette make the local space better for advertisers?
Marquette Group acts as a single source for building integrated, efficient campaigns to drive results for our clients versus acting as an agency focused on leveraging and selling a singular media type. By bringing simplicity to a complex advertising marketplace and remaining media neutral, Marquette Group focuses on connecting our clients’ national brands to local consumers exactly how those consumers are searching at key moments in the customer lifecycle—regardless of medium or device. Our focus is performance and our loyalty is to the advertisers’ brand and their local lead generation goals.

What is next in local?
Social and video still have a long way to go for local and were highlighted on our 2014 predictions blog. Understanding how to use social and video for lead generation and loyalty building is still new territory for the majority of local businesses. Worth mentioning, too, is the need for greater use of content in social given the growing impact on SEO.


For more information, visit www.marquettegroup.com, email David Lenzen, EVP Sales and Marketing, or follow Marquette Group on Twitter @marquettegroup or find them on LinkedIn.

Google My Business Tips for Multi-Location Businesses

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

During last week’s webinar, Andrew Shotland, proprietor at Local SEO Guide, walked through Google My Business (formerly Google Places) issues for multi-location businesses and provided some tips for how to deal with them.  He also provided detail on on-page local SEO tactics including schema.org markup that can improve the display of search results for consumers.

Here are some of the highlights from the webinar:

  • Questions multi-location businesses should ask before deciding on linking to homepage or location page on Google My Business: How many locations?; Which page has “authority” (links)?; and which is the preferred landing page?
  • On Google My Business, do not create new listing when rebranding. Simply change name of business on listing.
  • When changing locations, once again, do not create a new location, but update location once the location opens.
  • While it will take a long time to update, when actual address is missing from maps, some of the primary places to go to update the mapping data include: Google Map Maker, TeleAtlas, TomTom, and OpenStreetMap.
  • It is good to list multiple practitioners at single location (real estate agents, doctors, etc.) but try and differentiate them somehow with different phone numbers.
  • Be the first to upload photos to your Google My Business page in order to prevent other, unrelated pictures from becoming your business profile image.
  • In Google Carousel results, the top two-thirds of your profile photo will be what users see when you show up, so optimize the picture accordingly.

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.

Yelp Adds New Direct Message Feature

Monday, June 30, 2014

These days, local marketing best practices highlight the importance of one-on-one engagement with consumers more than ever before. A company’s product or service may be exemplary, but in our increasingly digital and social environment, consumers are often paying just as much attention to how well businesses interact with them and address their questions and concerns.

In a move that reflects this trend, Yelp recently introduced a new feature that allows users to directly message a business via its business’ listing page. The tool, which is available to any business that has claimed its Yelp listing, relays user messages directly to a business through its Yelp account as well as via email. The email feature is a nice perk because it allows businesses to read and respond to user messages directly from their email account without logging into Yelp.

Yelp’s new tool is a great idea because it creates a simple and easy-to-use way for consumers to communicate directly with businesses and visa-versa. Consumers generally need to call a business or visit its website or social media pages to request the information they are looking for. Now, consumers will be able to contact a business they find via Yelp without leaving ever leaving the platform. Businesses often want the ability to easily mine and respond to potential leads. Now, they will be able to view and respond to inquiries directly from their email inbox.

It really all comes down to convenience. Rather than navigating through mechanized voice prompts or website pages, consumers want the ability to reach out to businesses for what they need wherever and whenever they conduct a search. In order to accommodate this, businesses want faster mechanisms for addressing consumer feedback that don’t require them to take many additional steps.

The sticking point will be how well businesses take advantage of this new tool. Unanswered or delayed messages can become a problem – especially since Yelp will publicly track business’ response times to inquiries. Yelp will also allow businesses to turn off the direct message feature. If businesses go this route, it could send a bad signal to Yelp users about how much the business values them – potentially leading to lost leads.

Yelp’s ability to continuously innovate its product offering to reflect consumer and business trends has given the company a big advantage in the local market. We’ll be watching to see how this new tool is used within the market and whether both consumers and businesses catch on.