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!

Be more Real Time

Social Networks is part of the program at SXSW Interactive, and during one session “Marketing’s Shift from Waterfall to Agile”, leaders of Beckon, Dell, Disney, Mindjet, and PepsiCo shared some of their rationale behind the need for marketers to adopt and incorporate Agile methods and be more real time in decision making. This shift is mainly due to the need for marketers to demonstrate ROI in a shorter period of time.

The concept of Agile came from software developers in 2001 with the publishing of The Agile Manifesto. Agile methods include adaptive planning, continuous development and delivery, with time-sensitive iterations focused on rapid and flexible responses to change through collaboration of self-organizing, cross functional teams.

So as software developers have been implementing these methods for over 10 years, marketers are now seeing the need to adopt them within their organizations to demonstrate their value to the bottom line.

The panelists discussed the need to accelerate the process of taking a concept to market. Traditional processes are now being considered barriers and friction points as we now utilize technological advancements with real time data, monitoring, analysis, and marketing. The old way of doing things and “staying the course” is irrelevant in the space.

As one of the panelists stated, “We live in real time. We should be responsive in real time”.

However, the shift is easier said than done. What is required for a shift to occur within advertising and marketing departments is adopting an Adaptive Process, which allows for more flexibility to quickly respond to changes in the market. And the adoption must be adhered to and integrated among all channels including offline as well as online, which can be challenging due to internal “turf wars”.

Integrated content distribution across all channels is a must to enhance user experience and connecting with them at the right place and time. After all, during key times in peoples’ lives is when they need connections for a product or service. And if you are not clearly visible when that time comes, you are missing out on opportunities to engage your audience and earn revenues for your business. “Compelling content is going to rule the day. Our brand is being owned by our customers, and it is our job to provide them with content that is educational and entertaining with a purpose” said a panelist.

Another challenge is really getting down to the nitty-gritty of what is driving the conversion path with all the various points of connection – from TV to radio to billboards to print to display to email to paid search to organic search to mobile to social. Values for each point of engagement must be discussed and assigned to directly attribute credit where it is due when revenues are earned. Further demonstration of this challenge was apparent among the panelists when 2 of 4 stated they still do not know the value of a “fan”, “follower”, or “like” or how to attribute revenues in social media for their organizations. The other 2 said they knew, but would not share those
findings. Can you really blame them for that?

But all were in agreement that “Last Click Attribution Modeling” is not the way to go, and the need for a collaborative effort in an Agile teamed-environment is necessary to identify the right KPIs and metrics to truly demonstrate ROI across all advertising and marketing efforts.

Change is happening in real time. Making decisions need to happen in real time too.

How to Leverage Pinterest for Your Brand or Company

 

 

 

Pin It

The new buzz going around the Internet world is Pinterest, a virtual cork board where you can save and share the things that interest you most. Find a recipe online you have to try?  Pin It. Find your favorite quote online? Pin It. From recipes to home décor to travel and creative ideas, Pinterest is the website to store it all.

What is Pinterest?

When you come across something you love while browsing the Internet, you no longer have to worry about bookmarking the page, emailing the link to yourself, or printing out a copy and saving it for a later date. With Pinterest, you can simply compile all of your great findings in one location online, available for you and whoever is following your pins to view at anytime. It’s made bookmarking into a social experience, more in line with how we use the Internet in 2012.  In addition to the followers viewing your pins, you can also view the pins of the people you are following and repin what your followers are posting. Pinterest provides the option to search for ideas or items that spark an interest. Browse through a live feed of items that are being pinned by strangers and repin them to the boards you have created.

How to Get Started? 

First things first, visit the Pinterest website to request an invite to create an account. Or if you know someone who currently has a Pinterest account, ask them to send you an invite, as this may be the quickest way to get an account started. Go ahead, ask me for an invite if you need one. Once you receive your invite, create your new Pinterest account using your current Facebook or Twitter account or by simply signing up. Now that you have your account set up, add the Pin It button found in the About section located in the top navigation bar to your bookmarks bar. This will allow you to pin anything from any page you visit online. Create your boards and start pinning.

How Can Pinterest be Used for SEO?

There are a few benefits that Pinterest can offer your SEO campaign.  Use Pinterest as part of your linkbuilding strategy. Links from Pinterest are “followed,” which means they pass particularly strong value. Once you create a new pin, your feed is instant and readily available for your followers to see. Pinterest allows you to create a pin that will provide a hyperlinked image, description, and link to your website on two pages of the Pinterest website. One page being the actual pin page and the second page being the board created for the pins. Make your pins interesting to your followers. You want your followers to repin what you have posted for your campaign, creating a viral SEO campaign through Pinterest.

Analyzing Your Pinterest Results

Now that you know what Pinterest is and how to use it, let’s take a look at the results we have seen so far for our clients. On top of the great ease of use, viral potential, and demographic targeting possible with Pinterest, another great facet of the hot social media site is how measureable it is. If you follow our Pinterest best practices, you should begin to see Pinterest.com pop up in your referral traffic reports in Google Analytics. Within this referral traffic report you can see the exact engagement metrics for traffic gained from Pinterest.com, and thus far, we have found that Pinterest traffic metrics can vary widely. However, the constant across Pinterest referral metrics is a high percentage of new visits. Additionally, we are seeing month-to-month increases in traffic from Pinterest. This is an indication that the adoption rate of this new social media platform could be increasing rapidly.

Also, if you dive deeper into Analytics you can break down the data even further. For instance, you can see which specific pin led to the most referral traffic, which page this pin was linked to, the specific engagement metrics garnered from traffic through that pin, conversions from that pin, and more. In fact, most all of the power of Analytics is applicable to Pinterest referral traffic since all pins have their own unique URL. By monitoring which pins drive the most traffic, what type of content is most successful on Pinterest, and other key metrics, you can begin to form strategies around how to improve success on Pinterest.

In Conclusion

Incorporating Pinterest into your social media and SEO strategy moving forward will only become more important as Pinterest gains users and market penetration. Pinterest has already become a household term and making sure your site is well optimized for this social media platform could lead to large impacts on your referral traffic, your conversions, and more. Happy pinning!

Google+: What Does This Mean for SEO and Search Results?

Initial discoveries.

In a recent blog post, Robyn Schelenz wrote an article about “Search Plus Your World” and how search is becoming more social. Naturally, as online marketers, we’re interested to see how integrating Google+ profiles and pages will impact search results.

In the coming months, we will be testing different tactics to see how exactly our page and client pages will show up in search results and see what factors will make direct impacts. AJ Kohn from “Blind Five Year Old” does an amazing job of outlining SEO techniques for Google+ that I can’t wait to try out. I will report my findings to either arrive at the same conclusion as AJ or perhaps dispute some of them. (Look for updates in the future or add us on Facebook and Google+ to receive notifications.) In the meantime, we will discuss our initial findings on search results with Google+.

For this exercise, we searched the word “Fashion” to discover our initial findings about Google+ and SEO.

Search Results when NOT logged in
As a logged out user, obviously, no personal results will appear. However, it looks like Google will encourage users to participate in Google+. On the right side of search results, Google will show you “People and Pages on Google+” relevant to your search query.

Click to view larger.

However, the results will differ each time you search for the same search query but only by a few pages and people. I refreshed a few times and these profiles/pages were listed most often and were the ones I analyzed:

• Coco Rocha
• Burberry
• Sarah Potempa
• H & M
• Vogue

The question is then, how can your Google+ profile/page appear in search results for specific search queries? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to conclude what influenced the results in that space, but here are three points that I’ve drawn.

• Interestingly enough, none of the actual websites were delivered on the first page of search results. Of course, this won’t always be the case for every search query.

• The more Google+ users that have your brand/company in their circles = more visibility.

It looks like all of these Google+ profiles/pages have a remarkable number of people who have added them to their circles. Each profile has at least 70,000 followers. As with any social network, it looks like if you have strong two-way interaction with your followers, you will be granted more visibility and it could influence whether your profile/page shows up in search results.

• Having the keyword throughout your profile won’t necessary result in your profile/page showing up in search results.

Every profile/page, with the exception of Burberry, had the keyword “fashion” listed either in the brief description, about page, and/or posts. However, each profile had the keyword “fashion” listed no more than 5 times. So, sorry folks, keyword stuffing won’t work.

Also, it seems like for specific search queries, these Google+ pages won’t even show up in search results. This was the case for Coco Rocha, Vogue, and Sarah Potempa.

The opportunity lies in having your Google+ page/profile appearing in search results for highly competitive, broad keywords even while your website does not. Hopefully, one day, we will figure out how to fully optimize Google+ pages/profiles to make this happen.
*P.S. Google’s video on “Learn how you could appear here too” won’t help.)

Search Results WHILE logged in (As a Google+ User):
As previously stated in Search Plus Your World, when logged in, you can now view personal results mixed in with other results, and it looks like Google will prioritize your personal results first.

Click to view larger.

Another interesting observation is that Google seems to index your information quicker for personalized results. As a test, I shared a blog with the caption “Has to be one of my favorite fashion blogs out there,” and within seconds, it already appeared in my search results.

Click to view larger.

How about someone who has me in their circles? I asked a friend to check her search results for the keyword “fashion,” and again, within minutes, my post showed up in her search results. We will try to determine exactly how many minutes it takes or if it’s instantaneous in a future post.

The take away from this tiny experiment is to write compelling content, and then, share that content. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but to write about something that other people care about takes time and effort. This is how you build an audience though. (Also, share videos and photos!)

As of right now, it looks like text match determines what shows up in personalized results. Meaning, if you are a designer and want to show up for the keyword “fashion” in your Google+ users’ personalized results, then, include the word “fashion” in your entry.

Also, Google+ is about discovering related pages and people. Again, Google will suggest Google+ pages and profiles for you.

Sure enough, the same profiles appeared:

Click to view larger.

As the Leverage SEO team dives deeper into exactly how Google+ will impact search results, one thing is for certain: Get a Google+ page or profile. Because the fact is, Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks and has already reached 90 million users. Take this opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and to get personal with your current and potential clients. As search becomes more social, you will want to make sure you’re part of the conversation.

Look out for future posts on Google+, and leave any questions you may have in our comments section below.

Google Gets Personal with “Search Plus Your World”

Welcome to Google 2012!  As of this week, Google has begun rolling out their new personalized search for users logged in through Google.com.  The change to Google’s search results is called “Search Plus Your World” and it could have a great impact on your search results.  But is it as big a deal as some in the SEO space are touting?

 

Search Plus Your World presents a mixture of personalized, even private, results with the more generic results you would otherwise associate with Google.  Where you are used to seeing “about X number of results (X number of seconds)” below the search box, you will now see “X number of personal results and X number of other results (X number of seconds).”  You might also see personal information mixed in with the actual result listings.  For example, if I searched for “Fido” while logged into my Gmail account, I might see the normal list of sites along with images of not just any dog named Fido but of my dog Fido, or my friend’s dog with Fido, etc.  If you haven’t been using Google+ much, you probably won’t see a significant change—your Google Instant suggestions may be more personally oriented, but otherwise, your queries are not going to be affected.

 

For those that do have a high degree of integration with Google+ and other Google products, like the photo service Picasa, the change will be more noticeable.  You will see private pictures that you may not have shared with the world now pop up in search results.  Never fear—they weren’t suddenly shared and they’re not accessible when you’re not logged in.  If you find the personalization an unwelcome change, you can toggle between personalized and non-personalized results by using the new human / globe buttons visible in the right-hand corner of the page.

 

Twitter’s lawyer, Alex Macgillivray, is particularly irritated with this new development in Search, as Twitter results are excluded from the new personal / private results (Source: BBC). Some speculate that Google was hoping for a reaction like this and that “Search Plus Your World” is in part meant to induce Twitter and Facebook to share data with Google.  Possibly, but we are not quite there yet.

 

At the moment, this should have little effect on current SEO campaigns.  The update makes Search more social, but since it only does so through the still growing Google+, its impact is limited.  Plus, few queries are likely to have a big inbuilt social footprint.  If I am selling anything related to cats, the most popular animal on the Internet, then, perhaps I am wondering how this will affect my business.  Even in this case, the personalization thus far seems restricted to very specific keywords, like the name of a particular cat.  As another example, my own search for “Christmas” showed me a number of possible personal results below the search box that I could click on (as my social circle had been discussing Christmas), but did not appear to affect the ordering of the actual SERPs at all.

 

The moral of the story is a variation on the old cliché, “the more things change, the more things stay the same.”  This update will probably affect internet marketing more distinctly in the future but it certainly doesn’t change the importance of internet marketing.  If Google is now integrating the use of Google Plus and Picasa into its search and if Bing is currently integrating Facebook (and they are), then getting all your bases covered socially and otherwise is even more important.  It’s a direction that should reward SEO tactics and websites that look to please users and search engines—a user friendly site is more likely to be shared.  This new update ensures that SEO will be an interesting and invaluable marketing channel in the new year.

Tweets for Tat

The first thing small business owners do when they find out that I work for an online marketing agency is ask for help. Many small business owners are at a loss as to how to effectively leverage online tools in their marketing mix. The truth is there is a litany of information out there on these topics but most either don’t know where to find it or the text is very cumbersome, often for no reason. For example, I recently read an article with 15 points on effective tweets. That’s 1,000 words to describe how best to write 140 characters. Well, these tips can be surmised in 3 easy points: content, engagement, and aggregation.

In the land of tweets, blogs, and 24-hour news coverage, content is king. This means write good, thoughtful tweets that have some relevancy to those individuals following you. I have run into several small business owners who don’t understand why they cannot increase their social media presence when they are creating content everyday on their wonderful product lines.

Content leads us to the crux of the matter, which is engagement. You have to be actively engaged in what your audience is saying. Consider GM… recently the automotive conglomerate was plagued with protests from angry consumers regarding advertising dollars that were spent with a radio show that some considered to be offensive. This could have been a PR nightmare for GM—a company doing everything it can to support sustainability and American values. For every tweet GM received regarding this matter, they issued a personal apology and assured customers that the affiliate was instructed to cancel any further ad orders.

Finally, make it easy on your audience to find out more about you and your expertise. Twitter requires the creation and sharing of a great deal of content on a weekly basis. You can improve user experience and SEO value by linking appropriate tweets to articles or blogs on your site. Consider a large lumber yard that frequently tweets about DIY projects and HGTV television shows. It would be beneficial to link some of those tweets to appropriate web pages so audience members know where to get material for such projects. Writing 140 characters can seem like a daunting task. The truth is if you follow some basic guidelines and encourage your audience and customers to follow you, great success on Twitter will follow.

Google+ Growth

Recently, I have posted a few blogs regarding viral videos. Let’s face it, nowadays fads are all the rage and crazes are in vogue. There are new social media tools rolling off the brains of eager undergrads hoping to be the next Mark Z.

Coeds aren’t the only ones in this game. Very recently, Google unveiled its answer to Facebook: Google plus. In the coming weeks, a few of my colleagues will write extensively about plus and the benefits it could hold for advertisers. What we can say unequivocally today is one such benefit will be a large audience that will expound greatly across borders. Read more

Google+ for Businesses and Branding

I came across an AdAge.com article about how companies will begin using Google+ as a branding platform. “Google+ Brand Pages Coming in Two Weeks” addresses the question of when Google+ will follow in Facebook’s path and provide the opportunity for companies to promote their brands.

Currently, companies must apply to be a  part of Google’s testing phase for business pages. Similar to Facebook’s company pages, Google+ brand pages will be the primary source of advertising revenue for this new social media network. Read more

The Power of Social Media

This year during SXSW (South by Southwest), an annual Austin music festival for all of you not in the know, a few colleagues and I decided to go out in search of celebrities!  We wondered aimlessly amidst the throng of skinny jeans and plaid shirts until one coworker received a tweet about a secret comedy show featuring Aziz Ansari that started in a couple hours.

My co-workers and I made our way to the venue about 2 hours before the show started. Imagine my surprise when a line of around 200 hundred people awaited us. How could this be? We had the super secret Tweet! The truth is, that tweet spread like the flu in my niece’s 2nd grade class.

The question is why?

So often an advertiser wants to have this type of rapid fire success with social media outlets. What most don’t understand is “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Social media, as with any effort, requires patience and string-will. In order for this to happen you must constantly update your profile, twitter, and other tools with cool, new information. One of those tidbits will be your rocket to the moon.

Going Viral happens over night, but Going viral cannot happen overnight.

Content is Key

Maneuvering the social media landscape can be a tricky business: DON’T link your Twitter to your Facebook account; DO feed your blog. DON’T deactivate commenting on your fan page; DO monitor the conversation for inappropriate or offensive comments (which you are responsible for managing.) DON’T self-promote; DO send out valuable content and engage with your customers. There’s a lot to remember, and the fact that it’s constantly evolving with new best practices being developed almost weekly, using social media as a marketing and branding tool has become a full-time job.

Research shows that social networking sites aren’t the best medium for advertising… yet. Users are still resistant to social media ads as being intrusive in this particular space. If social media is one of the most effective marketing tools but advertising isn’t being well-received, then it’s engagement that customers are seeking.

Content is key to effectively building a brand and generating word-of-mouth. Some recent stats published by eMarketer show inbound marketing channels as the most cost effective approach to generating leads over outbound marketing, with LinkedIn and blogs being at the top for successfully turning leads into customers, meaning brands need to allocate funds for creative and valuable content creation. There’s a good 70 / 30 rule of thumb that branders and marketers should follow when publishing updates on any social media site. Only 30% of status updates should be self-promotional content while the remaining 70% should be valuable content that is interesting, educational, or sparks a dialogue with followers. It’s also a good idea to monitor the frequency of status updates depending on which platform you’re utilizing. For example, it’s common practice to tweet 3 – 5 times a day, whereas Facebook and LinkedIn only require your attention once a day.

As Jeffrey Eisenberg summarized during his keynote at PubCon last week, “meaningful interaction with your audience will result in conversions and a positive relationship with the customer. –Marketing Pilgrim