As I wrote in the previous newsletter, this one was delayed one week due to the fact that I was attending the Annual Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose last week. It turned out to be a wonderful four day event packed with seminars and panels presented by both representatives from the search engines themselves as well as some of the top search engine marketing professionals in the industry. One of the key components of the conference was that local search is here which is the subject of the main article in this month’s newsletter.
A highlight for me was not only the fact that I was able to attend the 2004 Google Dance (a huge party Google throws each year along with this conference) which is held at the Googleplex itself in Mountain View California, but also that I was able to meet face to face with many of the people I have know online from moderating in various forums and being a contributing writer on many popular ezines and resource sites. It is always nice to meet the face behind the type. All in all it was a great time and I highly recommend a SES Conference for anyone that is serious about doing their own search engine marketing or just simply wants to keep up with the industry.
In this issue…
- NEW FORUM GEARED TOWARDS SMALL BUSINESS
- FEATURE ARTICLE – LOCAL SEARCH IS HERE!
- SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
- CLOSING COMMENTS
NEW FORUM GEARED TOWARDS SMALL BUSINESS
I would like to introduce you to a new forum that is geared towards small business called Small Business Ideas Forum. Its goal is to provide a place for people to discuss anything and everything related to owning and running a small business. In case you are not familiar with what a forum is, it is an online application that allows people to communicate by posting to topics of interest. When one posts to a forum, they usually do so in real time and others are then able to read and respond to those posts.
My friend, Robert Clough, who for years has been providing news and resources related to both small business and search engines, has started this forum as friendly place to share knowledge, find help and encourage one another. Robert operates the very popular Search Engine Guide web site, a leading daily news and resource site that provides information on the search engine and search engine marketing industry. He also operates the Small Business Brief which compiles daily news related to small business. A daily or weekly e-newsletter is also offered through each of these sites. I am honored to be a moderator on this new forum along with a few other industry experts.
So whether you would like to share some of the knowledge you have acquired with your small business experience, learn some things related to small business or both, I invite you to http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com/forum/ where signup is free and easy. You will be well on your way to learning and sharing with other business minds from around the world. Even if you are involved in a large business, you still may be able to learn or share with the small business community. The forum is sure to provide many networking opportunities as well.
FEATURE ARTICLE – LOCAL SEARCH IS HERE!
I had the opportunity to attend a session in the Search Engine Strategies Conference held in San Jose entitled “Getting Local Part I: Search Engines” in which two industry experts presented case studies of how their clients were using local search as well as being able to hear from representatives of the search engines themselves. Sukhinder Singh from Google and Geoff Stevens from Overture both explained in pretty good detail their latest products – local search. This consisted of both organic search results and pay per click advertising. Ask Jeeves has also rolled out local search opportunities through a partnership with CitySearch. I will not be looking at the Ask Jeeves program here as they were not represented in that particular session but will be looking at getting local in organic search listings as well as highlighting some of the features of Google’s and Overture’s local PPC models.
Getting Local With Organic Listings
If you offer a product or service that can only be purchased or acquired locally, then you should be targeting local traffic in the organic search results. The organic results of a search engine consist of the ‘non-paid’ editorial results that are part of its main free index. In most cases, they are separate from any ‘paid’ listings. Therefore for example if you are a local landscaper or maybe you have a local store that sells products, you will want to make sure your web site shows up well when local searches are conducted.
The first obvious part of this would be to make sure your web site is optimized to target the key phrases that are related to your business. You want to ensure that each of your web pages include optimized elements such as title tags, meta description tags, html content, textual links and anchor text. If you neglect this first fundamental part, then the second part will not have as much impact. Once your site is properly optimized, you then want to simply make sure your regional terms are represented. Sometimes this means placing ‘geo-targeted’ keywords within your copy but you want to be careful not to overdo it. If you abuse geo-targeted keywords, your copy may look very stupid to your readers. Here is an example of going overboard (I’ll use my company as an example):
“SearchRank is an Arizona search engine marketing company that offers a variety of Arizona search engine marketing services. Our Arizona search engine marketing services are designed to position your site at the top of the results. So, if you are looking for an Arizona search engine marketing professional, look to SearchRank, an Arizona search engine marketing company.”
Sounds kind of dumb, doesn’t it? It almost reminds me of people who like to use a favorite swear word after every other word. Yet you will see a lot of copy just like that on many web sites. So rather than slapping your geo-targeted keyword phrase in every sentence, just make sure it is listed once, maybe twice on your page. You’ll have to discover the fine line of having your keywords represented but not overdoing it. Usually the best way to accomplish this is to simply read back your copy to yourself. If it sounds dumb to you then it will also to your visitors.
Another thing you can do is to make sure your company’s address is located on every page. Not only is this good for visitor experience should they wish to contact you or visit your location but search engines will pick this information up as well. On both our SearchRank and Higher Dimensions sites, our address and phone number information are located in the footer of each page. Be sure to include things like your street address, zip code, state and area code of phone numbers. Search engines pick up these things and will then recognize that the page has a geographical significance.
Getting Local With Pay Per Click
Now I would like to discuss some of the features of local pay per click advertising. Both Google and Overture have rolled out local targeting which works with their long-standing pay per click advertising programs. These new features allow you to target a geographical area without having to use geo- targeted keywords. In the past, if you were a landscaper in Scottsdale, Arizona and wanted to target searches for “Scottsdale Arizona landscaper” you would have to set up an ad campaign with that very phrase. With local search, you can simply target “landscaper” and then select the geographical region or regions you wish to target. With the Google product, you can even draw a map around the area you wish to target. So in the case of our Scottsdale landscaper example, if they wish to target searches in Scottsdale between the boundaries of Tatum, 120th Street, Dynamite Road and Shea, they can do so.
Now how do search engines deliver these local ads to their users? They do this by using a combination of identifying a user’s IP address as well as considering the phrases they are looking for. Therefore lets say a user is in Boston and they are using local search to find a store that sells lighting fixtures. They type in “lighting fixtures” and providing companies are advertising locally for that or a similar phrase, they will be delivered local matches. Now if they are just visiting Boston and live in San Diego, looking for lighting fixtures in their own area, they may type in “San Diego lighting fixtures”. They are searching from a Boston IP address but looking for a San Diego related term. This is where utilizing the combination of both IP address to identify location and the actual search term works to provide the end user the best set of results.
So in conclusion, local search is finally here. If you offer a local service or product, you now have more power to weed out all the irrelevant leads and inquiries. You have the ability to target people in your area that are looking for products and services you offer. To learn more, visit Google or Overture. Read through their features and possibly even set up a test campaign so you can play around with it. [Warning - shameless plug ahead] Or if you would like the assistance of a professional company, we would be happy to explore the possibilities of setting up and managing a local search advertising program for you. Just email us or give us a call.
Written by David Wallace
SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
Here are some of the latest headlines related to the search engine industry.
Click fraud — the practice of clicking on a text advertisement served by a search engine for the sole purpose of forcing the advertiser to pay for the click – - is emerging as an important concern for search engine marketers.
Microsoft’s MSN division announced Thursday that it has acquired Lookout Software, a firm whose technology searches messages in the software giant’s Outlook e-mail client.
Microsoft released a public preview of its long- awaited web search technology today. The company also gave a facelift to its popular MSN Search site that remains powered by Yahoo’s search technology and dropped paid inclusion listings there.
Well, that is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed the article on local search and that you will consider utilizing this wonderful means of reaching targeted traffic for your business. We can help you set up a campaign, manage one or do the whole thing for you. Whichever way you choose to go, local search is probably going to become one of the best ways to reach very targeted and very specific traffic.
I am fresh back not only from the San Jose conference but from a little R&R me and my wife Irma took in San Francisco. This is the first time we have been there and I must say it is a very neat city. We enjoyed many of the things the city offers, especially the nice weather – 60 degrees. I guess it is so cool in the summers there because of the fog. It was a bummer coming back to our 115 degree weather here. Yuk! Oh well, summer will be gone soon enough and then I will enjoy our beautiful Arizona winters that we have.
Have a great month of August! SearchRank eNews will return to its normal schedule next month so see you the first Tuesday of next month.