What Is All the Yelp About?

Yelp button - redOn June 14, 2012, Yelp announced that it would be powering the Bing local search engine results. As you can see in the image below, Yelp reviews, pictures and sometimes additional information provided by Yelp will appear on the right hand side of the search results page when a user makes relevant searches using Bing.

According to a Yelp news release, “Yelp will surface content including, review snippets, photos, business attributes, and more, to Bing users in the U.S. This content will be featured prominently on relevant Bing Local pages, presenting information to help consumers do more with businesses near them.”

Vespaio Bing Search Results - Local powered by Yelp

During the same week, Yelp also announced it had joined forces with Apple. Yelp will now provide information for Apple’s new maps application as well as providing more content to Siri. The announcement was a giant step forward for both Yelp and the businesses that have already taken advantage of the Yelp platform.

If your business is not currently listed on Yelp, considering the following:

  • Yelp had an average of approximately 71 million monthly unique visitors in Q1 2012
  • 6.3 million unique visitors used a Yelp mobile app
  • Every second a consumer looks up or calls a business from a Yelp mobile app (Q42011)
  • A photo was uploaded every 30 seconds from a Yelp mobile app
  • Yelpers have written over 27 million local reviews.
  • Over 40% of all Yelp searches come from their mobile apps. (Q4, 2011)

It only takes a few, simple steps to have your business up and running on Yelp so you can take advantage of all the new exposure Yelp is receiving.

  1. Claim Your Listing – Business owners can list their businesses on Yelp for free! Setting up an account allows you to respond to customer reviews, message your customers, view business trends and create special Yelp deals. Click Here to get started.
  2. Add Information – Add a detailed business description, up-to-date information, business history and specialties. All this information will show when I user visits your Yelp page and some of the information will be used in the new Bing local searches.
  3. Add Photos – Upload some photos of your business as well as photos of the product or services your offer. A recent Yelp study found “People searching Yelp for great local businesses spend 2 and a half times as much time on a business page with photos as opposed to one without”. You can’t take advantage of having photos show in the Bing local searches for free if you don’t upload them!
  4. Accumulate Reviews – Encourage your customers to provide feedback on Yelp about their experiences with your business. As you accumulate positive reviews it will raise your Yelp “Score” and will help to push any negative reviews lower. Yelp provides some helpful advice on responding to reviews.
  5. Advertise on Yelp – Yelp Ads offers targeted advertising to increase your exposure on relevant searches and nearby business pages. Yelp Ads, similar to other search engines, are placed at the top of search results pages, so that users searching in your area will see your business above Yelp’s natural search results. Advertising on Yelp will also remove competitor ads from your Yelp business page, allowing you to keep the purchasing focus on your business!

People love us on Yelp

Yelp has become a trusted resource for information and reviews amongst consumers. It is one of the dominant alternates to the old “Yellow Pages” directories that are quickly become antiques.  As the use of mobile devices and local searches grow, so will Yelp. Take steps now to ensure your business is taking full advantage. Share your Yelp stories below; I’m eager to hear how it has affected your business!

Google Penguin Update – Google+ On-Air Hangout

The Leverage Marketing SEO Team recently sat down for a round-table discussion on the topic of Google’s latest algorithm updates called Google Penguin.  Hear the team’s take on subjects such as what Google Penguin is, what constitutes over optimization of anchor text, what is considered spammy links, and learn about actions that can be taken to help your site regain rankings if you were negatively effected on or around April 24th.

The video above is the first of several videos on the subject.  All videos are listed within a playlist for easy viewing and additional videos will be added to cover additional topics and questions.

View a list of all videos on the subject of Google Penguin.

Google Backpedals On Ad Rotation Change? Well, Sort Of

Near the end of April, Google shocked advertisers with another not so welcome change to the AdWords platform. It announced the end of the “Rotate evenly “ Ad Rotation option.  This option does just what you think it should. It allows for you, the advertiser, to rotate your ads at an evenly weighted distribution. It’s used by advertisers in the know who wish to properly test ad copy. Inside Adwords by Google logoThe default rotation setting on Google is “Optimize for clicks” this setting causes Google to show the ad it thinks will be clicked most often there by giving the best user experience to the searcher. We’re sure money has nothing to do with it but then again Google sent us a gallon of its Kool-Aid to drink while reading the announcement.

The new setting replacing this option was supposed to rotate evenly for 30 days, and then switches it to Optimize for Clicks. This was very upsetting to many agencies and advertisers because they would no longer be able to properly test their ads. Because ads often don’t get enough traffic to make a determination within that 30 day window, the move seemed a deliberant attempt by Google to increase their profits and further strip control away from the advertiser.  If anything, it was a step back in functionality all in the name of user (Searcher) experience.

Needless to say, torches were lit and pitchforks were raised as a petition was circulated around the search marketing industry for weeks asking Google to give us the option to opt out. We all banded together to battle this epic paradigm shift in advertiser control. And guess what? Our cries were heard and a compromise has been made!  A few days ago, Google announced it would be extending the 30 day rotation period to 90 days plus it has given advertisers the option to permanently opt out, you can do so by clicking here. Google has stated that “…If we see a large amount of demand for the opt-out over the next few weeks, we’ll also offer the opt-out in the AdWords interface directly.” So by all means, opt out!

If you’d like to get the scoop direct from the horse’s mouth you can read about it on the AdWords Blog. Happy testing everyone!

13 Ways to Break Through the Clutter with July 4th Advertising

Long before the end of June, stores and businesses nationwide will be decked out in red, white and blue stripes and stars. Across the nation, people get ready for cookouts and fireworks; traditions that, throughout the years, have remained largely unchanged. Fireworks on July 4th in Austin, TXThe 4th of July is a huge holiday, not only for the nation to celebrate its independence, but for retailers as well; the entire month of July is known for mid-year sales and clearances. With preparation and planning, advertisers can make the most of this holiday that presents ample opportunity to announce seasonal clearances, as well as make room for the new season’s merchandise. But remember not to lose sight of your customers; think about what they want to accomplish over the holiday and help them find everything they need for the perfect 4th of July.

Online Advertising

  • Include a patriotic color theme in your advertisements, including red, white and blue, as well as stars, fireworks (and even Uncle Sam!) If you want your sales/promotions to be the main focus of the messaging, add your messaging in large red font.
  • Reference 4thof July and Independence day in your ad copy and email marketing. Some examples from 2010 include:
    • Fingerhut: Answer this 4th of July Trivia + Get a FREE Gift!‏
    • Banana Republic: Happy July! Take a fourth off sale items + free shipping.
    • Old Navy: Patriotic Styles As Low as $5! Go Fourth & Save!
  • Try targeting July 4th keywords through your pay-per-click campaigns. For some verticals it’s a chance to get ads in front of audiences searching for occasion-specific products/services. If you’re in the travel/tourism industry, this can be promoted over a month in advance to capture searches for 4th of July vacation ideas, hotel specials etc.
  • Utilize remarketing campaigns to promote your discounts and coupon codes to previous site visitors. This works especially well when offered to existing customers.
  • Consider partnering with Groupon or Living Social or any of these daily deal companies to offer discounts during this time and promote awareness of your products/services.

On Your Website/In-store

  • Get in the spirit – decorate your store and website with red, white and blue and create patriotic retail signs.
  • Add a banner to your homepage or design store signage to emphasize your sales, making sure to include the specific dates of your sale if applicable.
  • Highlight patriotic-themed products through banners and in-store displays
  • Highlight items your customers would need for theirJuly 4th events such as cookouts and party hosting, themed home decorating  etc. to help them find everything they need for the holiday. This also presents an opportunity to bundle/up-sell products.
  • Design a banner with your top clearance items. This is a great way to grab customers’ attention and promote your best deals.

Through Email/Social Media

  • Promote your discounts or coupons. This is particularly effective when marketing to existing customers.
  • Promote contests and giveaways with such things as 4th of July trivia quizzes – everyone loves free stuff and this is a great way to increase customer interaction.
  • Email your customers or post to your social accounts, 4th of July ideas such as where to watch the fireworks, upcoming parades and events in your area and even your favorite 4th of July recipes and barbecue tips – little things your customers might appreciate. This is also an opportunity to include suggestions for relevant products/services you offer.

Please also keep in mind your ad agencies when planning your promotions. This is a busy time of year for marketers and agencies so the more notice you give, the better they can plan for your 4th of July campaigns.

Hangout with the Leverage Marketing SEO Team!

Join us on June 12th at 1:00pm CDT for an On-Air Hangout on the subject of Google Penguin.  Our SEO team will be on hand to discuss the recent algorithm updates known as Penguin, what you should know about the updates, what you should do if the updates negatively effected your rankings, and what you should do to ensure that your site won’t be effected in the future.

Feel free to submit your questions before-hand and you may be invited to be a participant in the live hangout to ask your questions!

For anybody that can’t attend the hangout while its live, watch this space or the Leverage Marketing Google+ page as we’ll be posting an archive version of the hangout shortly after completion.

Dads & Grads: How to Capitalize on Two of the Biggest Holidays of the Summer!

Happy Father's Day - I heard DadThe months of May and June are prime time for PPC campaigns as we celebrate a flurry of holidays and big events. Last month our team discussed making the most of Mother’s Day ads and this month we focus on the double whammy of Father’s Day and Graduation season! This year, Father’s Day falls on June 17th and will be celebrated on this day in the U.S, Canada, the U.K and France, opening up a vast opportunity for advertisers who wish to reach a wider audience and can ship internationally.

With over 70% of adults shopping online, and men’s online shopping surpassing women’s, it’s time that advertisers begin capitalizing on the potential for huge sales during holidays like Father’s Day. In 2011, the average spend for Father’s Day gifts was $106.49, up from $94.32 in 2010, and this number is expected to rise once more this year. Last year, about $1.4 billion was spent on gift cards, $653 million on sporting goods, $593 million on car accessories, $1.3 billion on electronics, and $1.4 billion on clothing – this year’s numbers are expected to increase. Now consider that 20% of all father’s day purchases are completed online – that’s a huge chunk of the pie that advertisers could miss out on without developing targeted Father’s Day ads and sales.

Happy Graduation - smile, you've made itAs for Graduation season, late May through early June is typically the peak of high school and college graduations with parents and family members trying to find the perfect gift for their grad. If you’re planning on developing a sale with lowered prices, why not get two for the price of 1 and target both dads and grads? With slight tweaks and targeting, you can focus on two popular seasonal markets.

Here are some tips to consider when optimizing your ad campaign for the Dads & Grads season:

  1. Perform keyword research to accurately target your market with the most effective keywords.
  2. Consider which of your products and services are most relevant to the holiday (i.e. home goods may be best targeted to high school grads going off to college or new college grads moving out on their own while sporting goods may be best for dads!).
  3. Look at match types for your keywords. For the most popular electronic terms, the highest volume of impressions and clicks are coming from exact match.
  4. Broad match can help you catch searches on variations of your keywords, thereby casting a wider net of possible visitors.
  5. If offering a promotion, include the promo code directly in the ad copy or in a clearly marked space on the landing page.
  6. Create seasonal ads with targeted, enticing copy for your Father’s Day/Grad sales.
  7. Establish a time period: Ideally, having ads up by the last week in May would be best but there are plenty of shoppers looking for last minute deals. Be sure to have your end date established which can also help entice shoppers to act immediately rather than continuing to shop around.
  8. Develop a great landing page: clear calls to action, identifiable sales and deals, easy to maneuver. Make sure visitors don’t fall off at this point by having an enticing landing page!






Our SEO clients fared well following Google Penguin

In the wake of the Google Penguin outcry, we have found, from our monitoring tools, that our clients have largely been either unaffected or have actually seen improvements as a result of Penguin. Although improvements are difficult to specifically attribute to the recent update, for some client sites we have seen notable improvements in impressions since April 24th and some improvements in rankings. The client site below saw a recent 27% increase in impressions.

GWT reports impressions and clicks for search queries

I attribute the stability and improvement in our clients’ impressions and traffic to our adherence to White Hat SEO practices and our dedication to staying ahead of the curve. After Penguin, it appears that sites that pursued rapid link building techniques, link schemes and other tactics that Thy Ta described in her post here as well as other spammy tactics have suffered the declines. Yet, in some cases, sites that have not pursued these tactics or have not pursued these tactics in many years have been affected.

In the face of constant changes in Google’s Algorithm, today’s White Hat techniques could become tomorrow’s spammy techniques and could earn a penalty in the future. In order to prevent vulnerability to these algorithmic changes, come back in two weeks for the next edition of the Leverage Lowdown for specific tactics that will help decrease your site’s susceptibility to future updates. These tactics are not only advocated by myself, but also vetted by the Senior Product Manager of Bing’s Webmaster Program and the go-to guy for Bing search, Duane Forrester.

In addition, the SEO team at Leverage Marketing Agency invites you to join us on a Live On-Air Hangout on Google+ on June 12th at 1:00 CST.  We’ll be available to field questions and discuss Google Penguin and any other SEO questions you may have.  We’ll provide a link to view the hangout from our blog but if you’d like to be an active participant, please add us to your Google+ circle and drop us a line to let us know you’d like to chat with us live.