Local Search and Dominating the Results

May 22, 2008

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve received a few different inquiries regarding Google and local search. One was how to show up in Google Maps results, one was how to show up in the natural results for local searches, and one was how to appear above the fold for localized Google AdWords campaigns.

Why not achieve all three of them, plus some “piggy back” SEO?

The last SES conference I’ve been to was in San Jose close to two years ago, but Atlanta-based Stacy Williams from Prominent Placement gave a great example on how a local company can dominate results. To this day, it holds true.

There’s some dominance!

To many search marketers, this isn’t anything new. To local business owners, this may be. Google separates their natural, local, and paid listings. There’s no reason a local business can’t do the same.

Regarding “piggy back” SEO, this comes down to both local (Maps) and natural listings. By having profiles in places like SuperPages.com and CitySearch.com can only help. Google Local helps legitimize your profile and Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) results often appear toward the top in the natural results.

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You Subscribe, Search Marketing Standard Donates, MN Music Education Wins

December 4, 2007

Search Marketing Standard

The folks over at Search Marketing Standard are now offering a promo for their print magazine. Get four quarterly mags for $4.95. Just subscribe by Dec. 10th with coupon code 67LOCALMN.

Some of the readers of this blog understand the basics of search marketing, but don’t do it for their job. If this is you, it’s certainly worth the five bucks. Take it on a plane, read on the couch, whichever… it’s always a good read. Actually, it’s worth it for search marketers too. There’s just something nice about reading a print mag for those of us who work online.

The part I’m very happy about is they are donating part of every subscription through this blog to a charity of my choice. For me, it’s gotta’ be local and I choose to support the MacPhail Center for Music.

There are probably one or two readers that know I’m a huge supporter of music education, whether it’s early childhood music lessons or adult music therapy for the challenged. If you didn’t know this, now you know something more about me. 🙂

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Minnesota Interactive Marketing Summit 2006

September 12, 2006

On October 4, 2006, the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) is putting together its annual MIMA Summit. There are many reasons that large and small businesses alike will want to attend.

There will be 2 keynote addresses, including one with Michelle Collins, writer and blogger for VH1’s Best Week Ever, approximately 14 sessions, plus an open mic session, all on topics such as web analytics, site structure, online advertising, viral marketing, and consumer-generated media, just to name a few. Some recommended sessions are…

Brawny Academy: Paper Towels and Hollywood?
In late August, I blogged about the Brawny Academy campaign. It’s a very creative way (via online reality show) to put excitement in something so boring as a paper towel. This has turned out to be a great viral marketing campaign. Hey, I hate reality TV and I’m hooked! Chris Lawrence of Fallon will be presenting.

Site Architecture: Actionable or Afterthought?
Jake Baillie, President of TrueLocal, is a very well-known and respected speaker, and regularly presents at search marketing conferences across the country. He’ll be speaking on site architecture, search engine-friendly Web sites, common pitfalls, and how marketing and IT share responsibilities.

Consumer-Generated Media (CGM)
Andrew Eklund, CEO of Minneapolis-based Ciceron, will speak on CGM and how important the “average Joe” is regarding user-generated web content, and how to take advantage of it. Yup, they’re talking about you (online)!

Assembling Your Internet Marketing Toolbox
The session will include a few speakers, including MIMA member Ward Tongen (Wardo) from Medtronic on cool tips and tools you can use to take Internet marketing capabilities to the next level, and to amaze your peers and bosses. 😉

The sessions above are just a few of many. Between these, there will be enough time for networking, schmoozing, food…

Did I mention the happy hour from 5:30 – 7:30?

MIMA Summit 2006 (in case you missed the link above)

Directions and registration information

SES Local Search Marketing Conference – Denver

September 6, 2006

Later this month, the first ever SES Local Search Marketing conference will be held in Denver, Colorado. There’s a lot to cover in just one day, although between the hours of 8:00am and 7:00pm you’ll be able to register, grab some coffee, see up to five presentations, hit the sponsor and exhibit hall, and still have enough time to network.

Many people think of “Local Search” as a subset of search engine marketing (SEM). For many who will attend, they’ll find out that the opposite is true. SEM is definitely a subset as Local Search and bringing local customers to your door.

I won’t be at the event, but can recommend a few sessions:

Local Search Marketing Tactics
At the recent SES San Jose conference, I attended the local search session. Looking around the audience, there were a bunch of wide-eyes and heads nodding up and down thinking “yeah, I understand that”. Two of the presenters (Patricia Hursh and Justin Sanger) will be speaking at this session in Denver.

Local Search Ads
This session should have some good nuggets that even the most savvy search engine advertisers can pick up.

Meet the Local Search Engines
I normally wouldn’t recommend a “meet the engines” panel, simply because they’re often presentations to plug their own search engines, and nothing else. From listening to one of Paul Levine’s teleconferences, and word-of-mouth input from Jake Baillie’s presentations, this is not the case.

It should be more than worthwhile for the attendees. If you’re interested in local search marketing, but don’t fully understand it, you’ll most likely leave the conference “getting” it, bringing lots of ideas back to your company.

SES Local Search Denver – Press Release 

BuyOnlineNow Makes Inc 500 List Again

September 1, 2006

BuyOnlineNow’s Press Release:

For the second year in a row, my old stomping grounds at BuyOnlineNow.com has made the Inc. 500 fastest growing private companies list.

BuyOnlineNow started up in 2000 and is now easily one of the U.S. leading online office supply companies. The way they still revolve around customer service is amazing. I had to ask the CEO and founder, Bob Herman, how they still do it.

“I’m often asked ‘What’s the secret to our success?’ There’s no secret, I believe our success is due to our commitment to providing the best possible customer service every day. This commitment applies to everything we do, our online catalog, our delivery offerings, and even to our marketing efforts.

For instance, unlike virtually all of our competitors, we don’t send bulk marketing emails to our customers; we don’t even maintain an email list! We believe that the vast majority of the email ‘offers’ sent are really spam, merely annoying the recipient. That’s not good service so we don’t do it.”

For the 2 years I was with them, we never sent out marketing emails. The only ones that customers got were order confirmations and tracking. We had plenty of other hats to wear. In fact, aside from traffic analysis, usability, search marketing, etc… there were literally thousands of times I would answer the phone saying “BuyOnlineNow, this is Paul, how can I help you?”

For over a year, one of my hats was to track customer orders. If there was a hiccup, I would call the area’s distribution center to find out what was going on. If it wound up being an order delay, I would proactively call the customer explaining the situation, letting them know when their order would be shipped in full.

During the whole time, I could count on one hand how many times a customer would call up about their order, and I did not have an answer for them. This is not a pat on my back. It was simply part of my job.

BuyOnlineNow is one example of how placing priority on customers trumps wasting useless time worrying about Google updates, that silly sandbox myth, and how high you “rank” (I hate that word) in different search engines for select keyphrases. What a novel idea… placing the actual customer first.

It seems strange, but working for this national e-commerce site is what got me interested in what’s now known as “local search”. In a few weeks, there’s a chance I’ll be visiting Bob, Sonja (Sonny, who is my sister and old BuyOnlineNow boss), and the whole team for a few days. I can’t wait to interact and hang out with all of them, and catch up on things about the e-commerce world.

Sonja, will you cook dinner during my stay? It has always been my favorite. 🙂

Local Search Marketing – Starting Point

August 31, 2006

Patricia Hursh, President and Founder of SmartSearch Marketing writes a great Aug. 31 ClickZ article labeled “Four Steps Every Business Can Take to Improve Local Search Results”.

As in any business industry, there are core foundations that must be set before you can build from them. The article gives a great understanding of these marketing starting points, including ensuring your correct business and profile information are listed in yellow page data. There are currently many more incorrect business listings out there than many of us would ever think.

If you run a Minnesota business, you are most likely listed in Dex Online. If your business listing is incorrect at all, you can go into their data partner, InfoUSA, and update your business listing. If you’re a Dex advertiser, you can create a free basic business profile. This not only ensures your listings are correct when users find you, but by adding categories and information to your profile, there’s a better chance you will be seen by users searching on local search engine properties, such as Google and Yahoo.

This is all just a start, but a start that is too often overlooked by local businesses.

Using Flickr to Market Your Small Business

August 29, 2006

Over in Kennewick Washington, home of the Tri-City Americans, Matt McGee from Small Business SEM writes a piece on how small businesses can market Flickr photos.

Flickr is Yahoo’s shared photo portal, and is mainstream by web users. Considered one of the forerunners in Web 2.0, creative local and small business owners can use this as a way to interact with local consumers.

I did a quick Flickr search for the Oceanaire in Minneapolis. Basically, it shows some people having a decent time. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make me want to visit. I did a Google search, and actually found a Flickr photo set of the Oceanaire in Seattle. This is a different story. Mmmmm… me want seafood… eeep eeep.

The Seattle photo set is a perfect example of Web 2.0 and user-generated content. It wasn’t from the restaurant itself, but from (I’m guessing) a local photographer who really liked the presentations.

Net Neutrality – Viral Marketing

August 3, 2006

Minneapolis digital marketing agency Space150 voices out on net neutrality with their newly announced viral marketing strategy, We Are The Web. Bretton Jones from Twin Cities SEM also explains how net neutrality could negatively effect small businesses.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet a couple people from Space150 before, and the group is definitely impressive and creative. I think this viral marketing campaign will work very well. It’s like a bad car accident. You don’t want to look, but you can’t help yourself.

On the lighter side of news, Jon Stewart has his fun with net neutrality.
Part 1
Part 2