In honor of the Getlisted.org Local University seminar series coming to Syracuse next week presented by Syracuse.com and The Post-Standard (the 5th Local U that Advance and our local affiliated sites and newspapers have helped present), I thought I’d take a few minutes to outline the top four reasons why local businesses within a 250 mile radius have scored a winning Lotto ticket to have this event come to town.
One of the questions I often hear from both sales folks and businesses I talk to is- what are the differences between paid and organic search and how are they most effectively used? There seems to be a whole lot of confusion out there on the whole PPC vs SEO question- even down to the basics of understanding how they operate (and I find a whole lot of people won’t even ask for fear the other kids in class will think they’re slow…). The reality is it can be very confusing, but to effectively harness one of the most powerful marketing channels today (search), you need to know the basics (I touched on this subject as well in an earlier blog post where I discuss the power of combining paid and organic search strategies together). In the video below from my talk at the ILM East conference in Boston this spring, you’ll see the basic analogy I like to use to help people to understand differences between the two.
ILM East Boston: "SEO for CEO's"
This week I had a great experience traveling to Boston to speak at the Kelsey Interactive Local Marketing East Conference. My overall talk was on the basics of SEO for CEO’s and building an in-house SEO department, but I also touched on the wider trends happening in search related marketing spend and how they impact local markets. Afterwards we had a panel discussion with two of the people I view as among the top experts in search (and local SEO): Will Scott and Andrew Shotland (you can find a recap of the session on the Kelsey blog here).
One of the themes I touched on during my talk was the growing importance of “Services” in the world of marketing priorities for businesses. That money is now shifting from what has always been viewed as “Advertising” (whether traditional or digital media) to a whole host of growing priorities including Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Optimization, blogs and Content Marketing.
Yesterday in New York City I was invited to join the SMX East Conference Panel “Hardcore Local Search Tactics” for the Q&A discussion of local ranking factors along with three of the people I respect most as true experts on local search: Matt McGee, Will Scott and Mike Ramsey. There were some great local ranking tips discussed during the session, yet probably the most fundamental single concept that everyone on the panel talked about was how vital it is to have a consistent name, address and phone number (“NAP”) across all the places your business data can be found on the web. The reality is that among all the cool, highly technical factors that impact search visibility (concepts that only the “guru’s” of SEO can understand—from canonicalization issues to strategies for microformats) the idea that something as basic as whether your phone number or your name appears exactly the same way across the web —just doesn’t sound sexy. It’s an incredibly simple concept, and I find that once you explain it to a local business- the bell goes off. You don’t need 10 years of enterprise SEO experience to get it. The challenge of course (which all of us on the panel talked about yesterday) is in the execution of this simple concept.
Recently Forrester Research came out with a report focusing on the fact that today’s Chief Marketing Officers are woefully inexperienced personally with social media, and that this is a huge problem. As author Chris Stutzman argues, you need to become deeply involved with social media on a personal level in order to know how to take advantage of it for your business. And if you aren’t, there is no way you truly can. He goes on to point out that so few CMOs are using social tools that they can’t possibly orchestrate the brand experience and understand the social impact on the customer, the competition, and the company.
Clearly the power of paid search is no secret anymore. Google is making
billions as the world’s most valuable media brand, and marketers everywhere
now have woken up to the fact that a well managed paid search campaign can
often blow away any other advertising form in terms of its return on your investment. But what a whole lot of people have not woken up to is, if paid search is giving them a good return, it is almost guaranteed that organic search will deliver even more for their investment over the long term. And, both strategies used in combination creates greater results then either used alone.
Yesterday I recapped a great Webmaster Radio interview John Carcutt and Ross Dunn did with Google Places expert Mike Blumenthal, where he specifically talked about his philosophy about reviews. It’s worth calling out one specific point he made during that interview that’s significant:
To me, a review is effective when a customer see’s it- and the impact on the algorithm is secondary. The value of a review is in the credibility it provides and the call to action on the part of somebody seeing your listing.
The key idea is that you shouldn’t be chasing reviews to increase your rank in the search engines, or have a knee-jerk reaction to every change in Google’s algorithm.