By: Doug Pace – Bayshore Solutions Executive Team
My Experience at SMX West in Santa Clara, California
I am always intrigued when I go to California. It is an interesting collection of culture, business, and lifestyle. Anyway, I attended the Search Engine Marketing Expo in the Santa Clara Conference center in the heart of Silicon Valley. The first day of the conference was a collection of interesting breakout sessions with a keynote delivered by Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft). In an effort to share information obtained I will outline the day and summarize the individual sessions. There were some really interesting Online Marketing discussions and presentations.
Session on Yahoo! Advertising
I had the privilege to attend a small breakout session on Yahoo! advertising that was put on outside of the larger sessions. The session started by addressing the Yahoo/Microsoft alliance and how the combined entity would control 30% of the search volume. It was said that the combined alliance would use Microsofts Ad Center using Yahoo!’s sales and support staff. Updates on the alliance can be found at www.searchalliance.com. The session continued to highlight Yahoo!’s Rich Ads (ability to show images, video, and deeper links in search returns) and a desktop application for search management. Real-time search with social media was also highlighted as one of the newer features.
Mobile Search Apps
The most interesting presentation in the Mobile Application session was on Augmented Reality. Augmented reality is the paring of a physical real world environment with computer simulation. I was having a hard time understanding how this played into mobile applications until they showed a picture with an overlay showing information about the people in the image, data on the buildings, and links to the individuals’ social media profiles. Google Maps, Wikitude, and Layar have all created mobile applications that use the camera on the phone. Point the camera at a building and see information on the landmark, merchants within the building, etc. This is done via a combination of GPD, the Camera and a database of information. They continued on to discuss Microsoft’s QR Tags where merchants can put “stickers” on their physical signage relating back to Microsoft Maps. How this is monetized is still a challenge, but using the camera as a search mechanism really engages the user.
The Android presenter mixed a lot of best practices with his presentation on Android. As we already know, Android is freely distributed and is an open source software stack and over 60,000 android phones are sold per day. It can be coded on multiple platforms (windows, Linux, etc) so it is easier to find a developer (with development tools like Accelerator Titanium) than compared to the iPhone. Time was spent reviewing Android Market, Androids answer to the App store. The interesting thing about Android Market is that anyone can publish and sell an application. There is no approval process, it is only policed by the users, and it only costs $25 to publish an application (the presenter kept referring to Apple as a Politburo). Click to call and Click to locate were mentioned as the most logical applications for mobile advertising – play an online game and click an ad to order pizza.
Ranking for Local Search
Local Search is an exciting market and is expected to drive over $144 Billion in revenue by the year 2014 with over $85 Billion migrating to online marketing from traditional advertising. The panelist that shared these numbers stated that he thought this was impossible due to the inventory problem in local search. He went on to explain that there were only so many first-page rankings and at one point the cost of sale would outweigh the return (what happens when 15 pizza places are all competing?). He said this problem was consistent in all local search channels – SEO, PPC, Vertical Directories and Internet Yellow Pages – with the exception of mobile.
The next presentation focused on ranking in the Google Maps 7-pack. She outlined that Google had 3 distinct and separate search algorithms – organic web, maps and the 7-pack. She stated that it was important to claim your listing, link to your listing on your site, and that you should mine your competitors links (local authority sites such as Chambers, CVBs, newspapers and the Better Business Bureau all have high relevance). She referenced Google’s Business Listing Quality Guidelines manual and that everyone should read it. She left the crowd with her standard local audit – review local listings, search Google and Google Maps for companie names, phone number, and address, and use Google Insights for local search trends. She stated that you would be surprised at how many local listings were wrong. The concept that your website’s contact page should have the business name, city, and state in the title tag was also offered.
The final presenter shared a series of 10 overlooked factors in local search:
1. Employee Profiles are a must especially for professional firms. Sometimes the owner or partner is searched for as much as the business is.
2. Events and Calendars are great if you use the hcalendar format (see Google’s Rich Snippets)
3. Contact Pages should use the hcard format – this will generate a plus box on Google showing the map
4. Keep phone numbers in standard formats – they are more easily indexed; for example: (888) 888-8888
5. Testimonials help with goal conversions
6. Coupons and special offers – a recent spike in Google searches revolves around the keyword “coupons”. You can also add these coupons and promotions to your Google Maps listing.
7. Product/service listings – make sure they each have their own page. List products in eBay if only for the link popularity.
8. Books, whitepapers, etc are easy ways to get quality links!
9. Images can help in local search as they appear in the blended returns.
10. Create your own maps in Google’s My Maps. This will show on competitor’s sites.
That’s all for Part One. Check back tomorrow for Part Duex. Any questions or comments? Feel free to post it here and I’d be glad to answer!