SES Update: Local Search Marketing Tactics

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In the last session of the day, Gregg Stewart with TMP Directional Marketing (a $450M subsidiary search marketing group within TMP) tag-teamed with Steve Espinosa with eLocal Listing to discuss all aspects of local search. In 2008, $4.6B will be spend on local advertising (which is a 58 percent increase over 2007) according to Stewart. There is still a large gap between media investment vs. consumer time spent on each media outlet (only 4 percent of local media advertising will be spent online). Further research indicates that 93 percent of local shoppers use the Internet for research. This is a huge opportunity for marketers, especially considering 85 percent of all purchases are made within 15 miles from the home. Espinosa then walked through specific SEO tactics. For starters, Espinosa recommends creating a page for each location, include anchor text links from index page to location page, create press releases and pay for listings/trustmarks from BBB, city directories and category-specific sites. He also recommends using the hCard tag for a local addresses. Advanced tactics include including the video embed code on home page and location pages, create a video page and link from index page and create a video site map. He also recommends using no follow tags and (short) contact forms judiciously. On the PPC front, utilize local business ads (geo-targeted) to capture broader phrases more affordably. For landing pages, make sure they are geo-specific, optimized via A/B testing and utilize negative keywords. Espinosa also highly recommends utilizing social media sites like Digg and MySpace. He recommends encouraging customers to rate and review on social media sites. Stewart then revisited stats and reminded us that even with 22 percent of overall market share, Yahoo! does have a strong visibility in specific markets and content. He also provided data on the Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) market, where SuperPages rules with 44 percent share, followed by YellowPages at 31 percent. According to Stewart, top vertical categories in local search include automotive, legal, healthcare, restaurants, home improvement and real estate. He then went on to outline the various options for placement in local search, including CPM, CPC/CPA, fixed-fee sponsorships and organic listings. Perhaps the most valuable slide of the presentation was a map of content suppliers, directories and search engines and how they share information. Stewart recommends the following tips for optimizing for local: update and monitor listings in search engines and directories for smaller businesses and for larger enterprises to utilize bulk feeds. Espinoza then outlined a local video strategy, starting with producing shorter format (think commercial) and include a phone number, address and URL. Next, dedicate and optimize a video page and site map (including allowing embed and branded thumbnails). On a related note, Espinosa recommends preparing TV-ready content and leveraging Google video AdWords (and TV buying network). Stewart followed with a background on user generated content: 1 in 4 consumers consult ratings & reviews prior to making a local purchasing decision. Furthermore, sites with customer reviews have roughly double the conversion over those that don’t. Currently, 70 percent of local sites offer user ratings & reviews. Stewart then went on to discuss the negatives of R&R: requires a conflict resolution process, requires response for optimal benefit. On the other hand, the opportunity is to encourage happy customers to rate and review your company (make it easy by providing directions on a note card and reward customers that post comments). Reviews should include keywords, which can help with visibility for long-tail terms. Espinosa reminded the audience that Google scrapes reviews from other review sites, so target your efforts accordingly. When it comes to tracking online to offline conversions, Stewart recommends utilizing call tracking, consumer call-back surveys and coupons & discount codes. Espinosa also recommends utilizing the API and conversion tracking combined with CallSource and pass the data back to Yahoo to measure call conversions for free. I’ve attended SES for 10 years, and Espinosa provided more insights in one session than all other sessions combined since I first attended.

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