Local Search Marketing Tactics

Apr 12, 2007 • 7:05 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2007 New York
 

Provided by Cshel!

11a-12:15p | Vertical & Retail Track

Moderator: Greg Sterling, Founding Principal, Sterling Market Intelligence

Speakers: Patricia Hursh, President, SmartSearch Marketing Justin Sanger, President, LocalLaunch! Stacy Williams, Managing Partner, Prominent Placement, Inc.

Talked a little shop a bit with Phil Maher from LocalLaunch! and Dale Petruzzi from Batteries.com. Saw Thomas Bindl. Room at about 80% capacity by one minute til.

Greg Sterling starts us off. How many ppl have ever been to this session at a prior SES? 3 hands go up. So it’s a fresh audience. Greg says even if you’ve heard this before it’s good to stay fresh and up-to-date.

Marketplace overview:

What is local search? Comscore defines local search as geo modifiers or using a local search engine of an Internet yellow pages site. Sterling’s definition is “Local search is a process where users seek information online, the ultimate intention of which is an offline transaction at a service or business level…”

This market is fragmented, invisible and hard to track. New local search destinations launch every week. All these new sites fragment the traffic and confuse users. Local searches are also frequently invisible to the search engines because they’re lacking geo-modifiers. This also contributes to user confusion. 109 million users of local search engines and online yps. 400+ billion dollars influenced by Internet. Of total US retail spending, e-commerce represents 3 percent.

Forecasts show local spending online is like 2.5 mil. Ad spending online. Marketers give local search advertising gets mixed reviews as per Marketing Sherpa. Ppl still optimistic and excited about Local Search. Traffic fragmentation is still a huge concern.

Emerging LS segments: Word of Mouth/Social (Yelp, Lilaguide, MySpace), Verticals (theknot.com, citysearch.com, zillow.com), Mobile (WAP-based local search, text, voice search/free DA). All make the world much more complicated, but are emerging technologies in local search.

First speaker, Stacy Williams

Reiterates immense fragmentation in local space. Breaks down various players in the segment. She’s going to go over how to get free listings and other strategies for leveraging local search.

Big SEs: Data from Bill Tancer’s blog… less than 1% of the search results in the big ses comes from a special local search db. The best bet is to get into the main search results. Use best practices for SEO, and use keywords including geo-descriptors. Use physical address in footer (text, natch) and that helps the SEs determine you are a brick and mortar business and they can place you accordingly. Submit business profile directly to major SEs. Many sites buy their data from data warehouses, so if you’re not providing your own business info to these sites, they might be using 10 year old info. When writing your business profile, write it long (1000 words) and then create pared down versions of it at various lengths (500, 250, 150, 100). Other things you need to know: year established, years in business, operating hours, languages spoken, products/services, prof. associations, special deals, geographic areas served, etc. Some sites just publish what’s sent to them, though most have some means of verifying you are authorized to submit changes/new info. Agencies should remember to share the passwords for their clients accounts with the client. Always track everything you do. Even if your profile is mostly correct, find something to tweak anyway because once you begin the changes can help you add a lot more data that you normally wouldn’t know was even an option at the free level. (She puts up URLs for the big search engines business listings).

Local Online Search Engines: Local.com (free or $40/mo). TrueLocal (will tell you how many clicks you get/can expect in your zipcode), superpages, YellowPages.com, SwitchBoard (can’t submit directly), Dex, YellowBook.com.

Business Data Providers: daplus.us. She doesn’t like the interface there. If you have to change your listing, you have to print it out first and then re-enter the WHOLE thing (ew). Acxiom, Localeze (supplies listing to MSN).

Review Sites: Insider Pages, CitySearch, Judy’s Book, Yelp.

Why Bother? Be found by local prospects. Ensure online data is accurate, complete, etc. Build back links. Dominate the SERPs. (Take up as much real estate in the SERPs as you can and leave less for your competitors to fight over).

(Ppl have been filtering in, room is pretty full. Ppl standing along the walls)

Second Speaker, Patricia Hursh:

Local Search Advertising, Why? Ppl are increasingly searching locally. Marketers are increasing their local search ad budgets. Local search ads are effective. Local search is part of the overall customer experience. Patricia shares her recent local searches… find a sbux near the hotels she stays at for conference, other search was she needed directions to an AMC theater in a different town.

6 Tips for Local Search Advertising: 1. Integrate multiple PPC targeting methods. 2. Focus on the customers’ decision criteria. 3. Capitalize on the “local speak” advantage. 4. Drive in-store visits and phone calls. 5. Research available ad positions. 6. Local search isn’t only for local companies. 1. When you’re running a ppc campaign, use geo-targeted /ip targeted campaigns. Figures out where the user physically is to better target the ads displayed. Google and Yahoo reward local relevance if the search is clearly local. In some verticals, you’re trying to reach ppl who aren’t already in your local area, like in Real Estate. So use local keywords. Combine using local keywords AND geo-targeting for best results.

2. Focus on Customer’s Decision Criteria. Consider what the user is searching for, extrapolate what is the most important consideration for the customer, and tailor your ad copy accordingly. (See slide… good examples).

3. Capitalize on “Local Speak”. Write culturally relevant ads. Use local lingo. Focus on the local aspects of your business. Differentiate yourself from the big national players.

4. Drive In-Store Visits or Phone Calls. If primary goal is to drive foot traffic or calls, focus on local search ad products that provide maps, phone numbers, addresses, online printable coupons, etc.

5. Research available ad positions. Google Local Business Ads are displayed on Google Maps results pages. Yahoo Local Listings are displayed on Yahoo Local results. However, there is a tremendous amount of cross-over with main search results. (See slides)

6. Local Search for Big Brands. Most popular types of local searches involve real estate, new and used cars, mortgage brokers, restaurants and hotels, etc. Many of these types of businesses are big national brands, not local. There will be a “big awakening” soon when the big guys will realize they need to be leveraging local search more.

(Wow, LOT more ppl squeezing in and craning necks to see over the standing ppl)

Third Speaker, Justin Sanger.

Big businesses are turning to the yellow pages type companies that they’ve been working with for eons to help with the big brand’s local search efforts.

We are Witnessing a Consumer Revolution: The birth of a new savvy local consumer.

Local consumption isn’t new and local search in actuality is a reflection of our everyday life. 80% of all purchasing activity takes place w/in a 5 miles radius of our homes.

What’s new now is the Internet and its ability to augment our traditional local activities. Kelsey Group says 70% of local consumers are using the Internet to find products and services locally.

Local search innovators are continuously making the “next big announcement”. Each innovation, through its unique displays and ad serving conditions, yields the possibility of new and valuable local advertising inventory. Problem is, all these new innovations with their new beneficiaries aren’t actually benefiting proportionately to the hype.

Local Search Fragmentation: It’s only going to get worse for advertisers. Better for users, as consumers drive the LS marketplace and the demands of these new users are significant.

Constructs of Local Search Behavior (Fragmentation of User Behavior) • Social Networking • Special Events • Life Events • Health • Shopping and business look-up • Travel and Transportation • Work Life

All aspects of local search. All reasons users are turning to the Internet. Local search has been around forever and has multiple constructs. In order to move forward, the industry needs to understand the fundamental constructs and then fill/serve one (or some) of the specific constructs.

What is missing? Local connotes geography and search is merely an action. So is the revolution we describe really just about a geography search? No. What’s missing is the definition of the behavior construct. Right now, there’s a proliferation of “horizontal” search sites (everything to everyone).

Further segmentation of the already segmented local search utilities. Google and Yahoo understood that the local searchers’ needs and display req’s are different from the “regular” search user, and they wisely segmented the local search out from the main search. They knew they needed maps and directions, etc. To gain usage/critical maps, they’ve both also reincorporated the local search results into the main results page (like what Stacy was saying) to increase exposure for the new segment.

Horizontal local search engines must transform themselves into deep, vertical local search/info aggregators. There will be a convergence of vertical and local. Vertical players currently lead from segmented and niche content perspectives, but they lack critical mass. Horizontal players have or are approaching critical mass, but lack rich, structured, segmented content. Both groups need to address their shortcomings.

Structured Business Content Imperative. Vertical and LS require structured content. Where does the LS data and content come from? Offline-derived local content. Internet-indexed local content. Syndicated-authority content. User-generated local content. Advertising products.

(You’ll need to download the slides; Justin talks *fast* and the slides have tons of info)

• Think beyond your website • Think atomization • Study the SERPs o Authoritative algos point you in the right direction, ride the coattails • Find vertical authorities beyond the norm including trade orgs and directories • Run searches on Google Maps and look for reference sites • Back-link check your competitors.

Question to Justin: Ppl who have a service based business but have either no physical location or an undesirable location, and you come to the consumer rather than the other way around. How do you still use Google Local/Maps?

Justin: Find the vertical sites where they cater to your business needs.

Question: Any other platforms that allow you to advertise a local address?

Patricia: It’s a difficult issue that our clients are struggling with right now.

Question: Strategies for tracking online influenced transactions.

Greg: Loyalty cards, phone call tracking services, coupons (must be redeemed physically), etc. Some new stuff in wireless.

Stacy: Phone calls are probably the easiest to track. Clickpath serves up dynamically generated phone numbers which gives even greater granularity to your tracking.

Greg: Sometimes just flat out asking the user “Where did you hear about us?”

Question: We just acquired a national pizza chain, and we’re running ppc local campaigns for the national change. Any advice?

Patricia: Make sure all the individual locations are registered in the SEs with their local addresses, include local keywords in the campaigns, etc.

Question: Does getting into all of these directories require manual submission or is there a way to outsource it or something?

Greg: Justin runs a company that offers those types of services.

Carolyn Shelby is the webmaster several sites, including a national plumbing manufacturer, and the city guide for Greater Lafayette, Indiana.

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