By: Doug Pace- Bayshore Solutions Executive Team

It’s our third day of attending the Search Marketing Expo and my fourth day in New York City. I would have never have guess it, but I am becoming a little home sick for good old Tampa. There’s something about this town that just kind of wears me out. Maybe it’s because the town truly never sleeps or maybe it’s the construction they are doing outside my hotel window at 1 a.m. In any case, the third day of SMX holds some exciting sessions. We will start off learning about issues with SEO and pagination, then we will move to daily deal websites and strategies to create effective offers, local search’s effect on ecommerce will be third in line, and the final session of the day will give insight into the mobile search realm.

Pagination & SEO
The pagination session looked to assist everyone with the challenge of getting their paginated returns better ranked and optimized. Examples of pagination exist with items like products and press releases. You may only want to show a limited set of products on a single page to assist in user experience, but issues exist for search engines finding the pages deeper within the return set. The technical challenge with pagination is multifold – 1. The items on the higher number pages will be hard to index because inbound indexing properties for the main page can be diluted; 2. If the site is not architected correctly, the content could be seen as duplicate content (Nike Air Jordan shoes can exist in multiple categories – if the category pages do not link back to a single page for the product, and instead creates a URL string for the category and shoe).

The session started with an individual discussing best practices around this issue: Navigation paths should not append to URLs, all canonicals should point at page 1, only include primary canonical URLs in the XML sitemap, have a view all option, use internal link optimization and breadcrumbs. This information was somewhat discounted when Google announced that they just released new pagination tags. In short the new tags (Rel=next and rel=prev) work to connect a series of pages and are used in the head of the individual page sections. In using these tags you can consolidate all indexing properties for multiple pages in a sequence, but they allow will Google to return an individual component page as more relevant. This is a fairly important item as pages using the Rel=“canonical” only indexes content from canonical URL, not all the components associated.

Doing Offers Right
This session looked to define the daily deals market. The market is still growing with both offers (available U.S. offers have doubled quarter over quarter for the last year) and revenue (2010 – $1.12B, 2011 – $2.67B) increasing. The categories that represent the most offers are in flux, but currently the largest are food/drink 17%, beauty 15%, home products 9%, and clothing 7%. The average deal price across the market continues to rise—currently at $56.98. Visitor retention after the original sale is estimated at 19%. Redemption rates of purchased deals continue to be high (approximately 80%)—but don’t get too excited about the revenue from non-redeemed deals, most of the larger deal sites are allowing for refunds of unused voucher purchases.

All panelists agreed that prior to creating an offer on a daily deals platform one should consider the core business goal, if the product/brand is a fit for the channel, which deal platform is best for the brand, and if the retailer is ready to “treat the deal clients like gold.” Make sure the retailer understands measurement associated with calculating the cost and ROI of a deal and ready to watch indicators including average order value, cost per order, new/existing clients.

A case study of a regional New York City fashion retailer was used to demonstrate how to analyze metrics associated with a campaign. The client currently runs one deal every eight days on a popular deal site. Within the 3 days following the deal, new customer acquisition regularly spikes 50%. The margin left after selling the original item is about breakeven, but with a great holistic marketing plan the company gets a significant return from future client purchases and client referrals.

There is No “National” Commerce: All Sales are Local
Consider this, “Google is continually trying to make search results more relevant to a user; research shows that 90% of an individual’s purchases are made within 50 miles of their home; the IP address is one of the many factors Google uses to personalize an anonymous search; and Google already returns local inventory amounts within Google Products. Is there a day coming where all retail search returns will be local in nature, thus eliminating opportunities for local merchants to sell nationally via search? It is interesting to note that 1 in 5 searches have local intent – increasing to 1 in 3 for searches originating from a mobile device.

Everything is becoming local, so you must think locally when building your search strategy. One can simply look to Google and see that map returns are taking over the majority of page space. The panelists suggested looking your landing pages, content, merchandise, offers, and your mobile site to consider how to extend your local reach. Specifically, if a company has multiple locations, the panel saw opportunity in building out store locator pages. The initial page should include offers and calls to actions, the individual location pages should include information similar to what is found on a Google place page and have clear calls to action. They pointed out that online search significantly influences offline buying patterns—referencing a controlled test by Pier 1 showing an increase of up to 2% in local stores that had a good local search campaign.

A list of local factors to consider:

  • Store locator and local store landing pages
  • Mobile presentation
  • Inbound links – social, relationships, PR
  • Consistent NAP data
  • Google Places – specifically reviews and images
  • Yahoo & Bing Map listing
  • Yelp – this is an important citation source
  • Foursquare and Facebook – more important citation sources
  • Geo-modified and geo targeted keywords within your site
  • Inventory availability on Google products

Mobile Search
The mobile search space is becoming increasingly more important. Studies have shown that searches from a mobile device are further along in the sales funnel and have more urgency associated with the decision making process. The same studies showed that seven out of ten mobile searches resulted in a call or offline visit to a location. Furthermore, local search has been shown to be effective as an extension of local branding campaigns (37% use mobile to respond to outdoor, newspaper, or radio; 40% use mobile to respond to television).

This session was interesting in there were 4 panelists and each shared their opinions associated with mobile. The Google product manager was the last person to speak with 10 tips for mobile – his tips encompasses all of the factors discussed by the panelists – those tips are:

  1. Use analytics to understand your mobile traffic
  2. Manage your customer experience with mobile specific web sites
  3. Create mobile specific campaigns
  4. Incorporate mobile specific ad copy making sure users understand that they can take action on phone
  5. Think local – add location extensions and landing pages
  6. Think immediate – 70% of users leverage their phone while shopping
  7. Manage to position – 85% of a mobile users time is reviewing the first two results
  8. Drive leads with click to call
  9. Qualify your customer
  10. Separate the tablet experience from true mobile

 

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