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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Doing It Dave’s Way: 6 #Marketing Lessons From The Founder of Wendy’s #SEJBookClub by @dantosz

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By Danielle Antosz

For the November edition of #SEJBookClub, we read “Dave’s Way”, written by Wendy’s founder and spokesperson Dave Thomas. The book was originally published in 1991 and chronicles Dave’s life through his childhood, military service, and all the way through building his very successful company. Although Dave passed away in 2002, his legacy is still going strong. Here are a few statistics about Wendy’s you might not have known: In the first seven years, over 500 Wendy’s restaurants were opened! In 1999, Wendy’s was the third largest hamburger chain, but by 2012, Wendy’s squeezed Burger King out and took second place. As of November 2014, the company was valued […]

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Google Debuts New Look For Hotel Booking Ads As The Carousel Disappears

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By Ginny Marvin

The grand, awkward Carousel experiment appears to be coming to an end — for local listings at least. Google is abandoning the Carousel of horizontal listings that appeared at the top of local search results for hotels, restaurants and a few other verticals. With the changes, Google is now displaying hotel “Book A Room” ads in the ad list format it’s been steadily introducing in the knowledge panel.

When users clicked on a hotel in the Carousel, the booking ads were buried beneath a “Book” drop-down in the knowledge panel. The fact that it was ad-driven wasn’t clear to the user until clicking. Here’s what this looked like earlier today on a knowledge panel for the Sheraton on a search for “New York hotels”:

The Carousel is now being replaced with a 3-pack of organic listings that link to secondary pages. Clicking on one of the listings in the 3-pack brings up a separate page on the individual hotel. The page is essentially the knowledge panel. Now, instead of a “Book” dropdown, ads are presented in a section below the main description information in the way that Google has been doing in the knowledge panel in other verticals like movies and TV show, musical artists, as well as for ads local and online retailers on product searches.

The ads are displayed in a list under a “Book a room” ad header. Here’s an example of what these look like now (though this is rolling out so you may not see it quite yet):

Google hotel booking ads on knowledge panels

New “Book a room” ad format on individual hotel listing pages.

Users can also arrive at one of these individual hotel pages by clicking on the “More hotels” link at the bottom of the 3-pack listing. This leads to a full page of hotel listings, which each link to an individual results page.

The current “Book” drop-down is also being retired from the knowledge panel when searching directly on a hotel by name. Here, too, the new “Book a room” ad treatment will be used.

These ads are all still powered by the Hotel Ads API and link to the advertisers’ sites. The current Hotel Finder ad blocks aren’t affected by these changes:

Google Hotel Finder Ad Block

Ad blocks powered by Google Hotel Finder will continue to display.

Like the Carousel, the 3-pack listing and resulting pages only appear on desktop and tablet search results. So far, the specialized ad units are only showing on hotel results and not any of the individual listing pages for other effected verticals like restaurants and nightclubs. The changes are only being seen in the US at this time.

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Report: Google-Apple Safari Search Deal Expiring, Yahoo & Bing Want In

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By Greg Sterling

According to The Information Google’s default Safari search deal with Apple is up in 2015. Microsoft and Yahoo are reportedly separately competing for the Safari business across devices.

The Information says that both companies are pitching to Apple’s Eddie Cue and that his decision will be based “on the quality of the product as much as the potential money made from search ads.” If Yahoo wins Microsoft will still benefit in terms of shared ad revenue between the companies.

However the fact that Yahoo is competing against Bing suggests that CEO Marissa Mayer is preparing to separate from Bing at her first legal opportunity. Yahoo’s Gemini mobile search offering is outside the Bing-Yahoo Search Alliance.

In a surprise, last week Yahoo became the default search provider for Firefox in the US market, while Google remained the default in Europe.

There have been numerous estimates in the past of just how much revenue Apple gains from Google through its iPhone Safari default placement alone. In late 2012 – early 2013 two separate financial analyst estimates put the number at between $1 and $1.3 billion annually.

Across devices Safari now has a larger US browser share than Internet Explorer according to StatCounter. Thus the deal would be significant for either Bing or Yahoo. It’s unclear how aggressively Google will bid for the business given that its brand strength would likely retain a majority of users despite a potential default switch.

Browser share statcounter

While it’s possible that Apple might divide up geographies among engines as Firefox did, as The Information points out, it’s more likely Apple would work with Bing if it elects to make a change. Apple currently uses Bing web search to backfill Siri and for Spotlight Search on the Mac.

I suppose that Mayer could pull a rabbit out of the hat and win the Apple business but it’s a long shot. There’s also some recent, anecdotal evidence that Apple might be crawling the web on its own.

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Close More Clients With A Quick Local Site Audit

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By Greg Gifford

We all know it – selling local SEO to clients is tough. After my “simple math” post back in October, I’ve gotten a ton of questions asking for more details about our sales process.

As we all know, small business owners assume that their site is the best and that they should always rank at the top of searches. The simple math is great for a “why you need to do SEO” demonstration, but if you want to sell them on your services, what’s next?

Once you have a potential client understanding the general need for local SEO, you’ve got to show them how the services you provide will improve their local visibility. Depending on how large your staff is and how many prospects you have in your funnel, you might not have the time to jump in and do an in-depth local SEO audit for every sales call you make.

Several years ago, we tried to work up a full audit for every potential client, but we quickly found that the time spent wasn’t worth it. Some businesses were just shopping around, others were fishing for tips on how they could do their own SEO, and others would get sticker shock at the price.

We developed a “quick audit” process that allowed us to spot major local optimization issues with only a few minutes of effort. In fact, this process was so quick, we realized that we could perform the audit while actually on a sales call.

Once you get the flow of the audit, you can pull the information up as you’re talking to a prospect, discussing each point as it comes up. Since the process is so speedy, you can even pull up competitor info on the fly. If you find an area where a prospect is lacking, you can pull up the same area for their competitors to see how they compare.

Sure, a bit more research is always better — but if you’re caught off-guard by an unexpected call, or you’re slammed for time, the quick audit we developed can really help you close more potential clients.

So here’s the quick local SEO audit process:

1. Start With On-Page Elements (1-2 Minutes)

Start with a quick look at the home page of the site – remember, this isn’t an in-depth audit. (In most cases, the errors or omissions are very obvious and easy to spot.) Check for the following local optimization elements:

  • Title Tag. Does it include City, ST? Is the business name at the end of the title tag?
  • H1 Heading. Is there an H1 heading on the page? Does it include City, ST?
  • Content. Does the site have enough content? Does it include City, ST in the content? Does it include NAP (name, address, phone number) in the content?
  • Alt Text. Do the image embeds include alt text? Does the alt text include City, ST?
  • NAP. Is the NAP (name, address, phone number) present on the page? Does the NAP have schema markup? Is the phone number a local number?

For the on-site, spend most of your time on the home page. If there are problems on the home page, the site will likely have the same issues on internal pages. After you’re done with the home page, spot check a few other internal pages and look at the same elements.

2. Spot Check Citations (1-2 Minutes)

There are several citation tools out there, but we like to use Moz Local (formerly GetListed) for a quick spot check of the major citations.

Enter the business name and zip code, wait a few seconds, and check out how many listings show up for the business. If the site has its citations in order, you should only see one listing. If it has problems, you’ll see multiple listings.

Website citation issues discovered with Moz Local

I blurred some data to avoid directly pointing out issues (this dealership isn’t a client), but you can see how there are 8 listings that show up right off the bat. After just a few seconds, you can see that the site has 6 phone numbers and 2 addresses out in the major citation sources. In many cases, that’s all the ammunition you need.

You’ll also want to click into the site’s “primary” listing, typically the listing that shows as its verified Google My Business listing. Check the visibility score, and take note of the percentage of incomplete, inconsistent and duplicate listings.

3. Check Inbound Link Profile (1-2 Minutes)

Since Pigeon rolled out this summer, “traditional web ranking signals” have much more weight in local search results. That’s a fancy way of saying: (a) you have to do more than citations, and (b) you have to have a good link profile.

Use your link tool of choice — I suggest Open Site Explorer, Majestic, or Ahrefs. Check the overall Domain Authority (or whatever metric your tool uses), the total number of inbound links and the total number of linking root domains.

4. Check Google My Business (1-2 Minutes)

Most businesses don’t have an optimized GMB page, so it’s easy to find ammunition for your sales process on this step. Check the following:

  • Is the GMB listing claimed/verified?
  • Are the proper categories selected?
  • Is there a well-written description? (Remember, with the new GMB dashboard, you can write long descriptions with formatting and links.)
  • Does the NAP exactly match the NAP on the website? (As of the December 1st update, you can no longer add a descriptive word to your business name).
  • What is the overall review score? Did they reply to negative reviews?
  • Did the site upload a user image and an effective cover image?
  • Did it upload multiple photos?
  • Is it posting to Google+?

5. Check Social Media (1-2 Minutes)

Again, we’re not looking for in-depth info here. You don’t need to download an Insights report to be able to tell if a business has an effective social strategy. If it has problems, you’ll see them quickly.

Start with Facebook:

  • Does the site have a link to its profile from the website? Is the link clearly visible on every page?
  • How many fans does it have?
  • How frequently is the site posting?
  • What is it posting? Are the posts all sales-related “buy from me” posts? Is there any engagement from fans?
  • Does the site have an effective cover image?

Then move on to Twitter:

  • Does the site have a link to their profile from their website? Is the link clearly visible on every page?
  • How many followers does it have?
  • How frequently does it post?
  • What is the site posting? Is it all sales-related “buy from me” posts? Is there any engagement from fans?
  • Does the site have its Facebook account tethered to Twitter so it only has to post in one place? (This is far too common and results in an awful user experience for Twitter users, since all images and links take users back to Facebook)

Don't tether Facebook to Twitter and cross-post

6. Check Yelp (1 Minute)

Even though most businesses aren’t frequently (if ever) reviewed on Yelp, it can’t be ignored – remember, the review stars on Apple Maps are powered by Yelp.

Do a quick search and find the business on Yelp. Check its overall rating, and see if a representative of the business is replying to reviews.

And In 6-10 Minutes, You’re Done!

The more you work through the process, the faster the process becomes. You’ll be able to pull up your tools on the fly, as you’re talking to potential clients. With 10 minutes of work or less, you’ll find the majority of any major problems or issues with Local Optimization.

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