Wednesday, November 05, 2008

SMX London: Search 3.0: Local Search & Blended Results

Vanessa Fox gets people to settle down by suggesting that today’s panel is about winning the lottery.

Heini Van Bergen; Operations Manager from Tribal Internet Marketing

Heini begins with some comScore data to show that people use search engines an awful lot to discover local information.

Ah yes; the typical illustration of how local search can totally dominate the above the fold page one search engine results.

Now we’re looking at Joe the Plumber. Not sure why. Now we’re looking at a cute butt. Oh; apparently it’s a match for “plumber London” result. Heini’s gone on to show another Google Local result but he should go back to the London plumber.

Escaping Google, Heini hops over to Superpages.com, then a Dutch local search engine and finally White Pages. None have as interesting pictures as the London plumber and they all have maps and text.

Heini runs the audience through the 101 set up for getting into Google Local. Ah... now we’re back to Joe the Plumber. It helps to have your own website as you can link build to it. It’s not necessary though.

Let’s look at some on-page factors:
  • Phone number (with area code)
  • Location, products, services keywords in the URL
  • City / State / Country in the URL and title
Off-page factors:
  • Number of links
  • Location keywords in anchor text
  • Product / Service keywords in anchor text
Local Business Listings (LBL) tips:
  • Product, service, location keywords in:
    • Listings title
    • Listings description
  • Address in city search
  • Proximity in centre of searched locations
  • Put listing in right category
Some things NOT to do:
  • Use multiple LBL with ‘same name / address / phone number’
  • List multiple addresses on website
Heini’s take home points;
  • 30-40% of all searches are local
  • There are 768,00 SMBs in The Netherlands (he suggests it’s a great market for agencies to corner!)
  • Geolocation functionality will improve
  • Local search is still far less competitive

Susan Hallam; Managing Director, Hallam Communications

Susan begins by asking if we’re awake. Someone says no but she wakes the room up by showing a picture of Obama. She’s a permanent alien; an American living in Britain. The room seems to be Obama supporters.

Susan’s going to talk on:
  • Understanding local search behaviour
  • Local search services
  • Converging technologies
  • Local search marketing mix
Susan shows a Hitwise graph showing the rollercoaster growth of the search [b78 3tw] – that’s the postcode for Drayton Manor Park. The peaks match school holidays.
  • 63% of the people searching for this postcode go to Google Mapping .
  • 16% of people ever reach the official Drayton Manor website.
Let’s look at the SERPS for [b78 3tw]. It’s page two and it looks dire for Drayton Manor. Susan pokes fun.

Susan admits that few venues will be searched for by postcode but digs out more Hitwise data to show how many postcode and postcode hybrid searches are actually done. Turns out much of the audience will search by postcode.

Susan piles on the data to prove that there is plenty of local search opportunities and she maintains that SMBs are simply not making the most of it. We’re looking at Google Insights data that shows that the credit crunch is, however, effecting some local searches.

Local Search Convergence

Susan doesn’t want to talk about Google Local as that’s going to be covered elsewhere in this panel (in deed Heini’s already done the 101).

  • Business directories
  • Classified
  • Commerce
  • Reviews
Search marketers should be using all four of these areas.

A few people still use Yell.com – at least one in the audience - Susan suggests some of these business directories are names from the past. We do have new entrants to this market, though, such as Ufindus.com and Local.co.uk. Many of these new sites are using reviews and these are reviews which Google Local uses.

More Hitwise data (Susan got chatting to the Robin Goad from Hitwise yesterday and seems to have done well!). This graph shows search engines driving more traffic to local search sites and directories whereas traffic from other local sites is decreasing.

Classifieds ads in Gumtree will tend to rank well. Useful for SMBs, Susan says.

Oh my gosh; Susan is running through local classified site after local classified site... until the “time out” sounds. A quick bargain with moderator Vanessa Fox earns Susan the time to mention review sites. Qype gets a mention again.

Susan has an example of with an example of map spam. She reported it to Google last night and... wow, Google’s fixed it already!

Jon Myers; Head of Search / Associate Director, MediaVest

Vanessa introduces Jon by saying he’s going to talk about everything else!

Jon warns us that he’s going to use a lot of Google Map shots. He also points out that Google’s GPS doesn’t accurately pin-point the SMX London venue on the map.

Regional IP Targeting – Google PPC Part 1
  • System set up well
  • Lots of different options at various levels
  • Groups of countries
  • Country
  • Area
  • Post Code
  • City
Jon shows the tick box approach to getting set up on Google AdWords. It’s easy.

Regional IP Targeting – Google PPC Part 2
+ Queries governed by:
  • IP address
  • Info in keyword search
+ Can get Local Ad’s showing on Main Google SERP’s if:
  • Working better than main text Ad and
  • User within 30km
Jon’s showing a screen shot of a [Peugeot Manchester] Google Local result. He reckons the phone number is important; put a local number in, one that you can track and not a generic one.

He’s going to skip through the Local Business Center set up as it’s already been covered but pause to mention the bulk upload feed option. It can be painstaking to upload many entries one-by-one. The spreadsheet upload option is much better.

Ah, the terror of going last... Jon’s screen show of Google Map’s has also been covered. However, Jon’s thought about the impact of the Trademark protection removal here in the UK. He’s found lastminute.com bidding on Malmasion in Google Maps.

Google Mobile
  • Local business ads available on mobile
  • Searchers more than likely actively on way to location
  • Tracking phone number gets highlighted to make easier calls.
We’ve now got YouTube clips in Google Maps.

Jon’s next example plugs some of Ciaran Norris’ work. A search for [cafe w1w 7ft] has Ciaran’s result (his profile on Altogether Digital) in the third result. That’s been listed because Ciaran’s noted he once worked in a cafe.

Ha! Jon’s also using the [London plumber] example (sans Heini’s picture (which I can’t find)). So many of the ads for [London plumber] include phone numbers and Jon recommends this.
We’re told to go play with EveryScape.com. It is a monetised upgrade of Google Maps. With sponsorship not only can you find buildings in EveryScape... you can go inside them!

What might be Google be expanding into;
  • More mobile
  • Newspapers
  • TV
All these give you local opportunities.

Jon reckons Yell.com is still the best. He uses them a lot as they get straight to the point and are local.

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