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February 23, 2014

Tim Peter Moderates “Is Search Still Search as We Know It?” for the HSMAI Digital Strategy Marketing Conference

February 23, 2014 | By | No Comments

Tim Peter will moderate a panel, “Is Search Still Search as We Know It?” as part of the 2014 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference. Featuring a distinguished panel that includes representatives from Google and two veteran search marketers, Tim will walk the panelists through a look at where search is today, where it’s going, and how hotel marketers can benefit from these changes in the future.

The event program describes the panel as follows:

“As user behaviors shift, demographics change, and search channels expand and converge, it’s important to understand what’s changed and how best to capitalize on the speed and direction of this change. During this session, experts will help guide you through the tangled web of ‘Search 2014’ and leave you with tips to help you stay ahead of the game.”

You can still register for this year’s conference onsite at the NY Marriott Marquis, Broadway Ballroom, 6th Floor and learn more about having Tim speak at your conferences here.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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January 3, 2014

Should Marketers Really Trust Google in 2014?

January 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Is it safe for marketers to trust Google?

Like many of you, I’m prepping 2014 plans with many of my clients and for my own business. And, while looking through some year-end reports, I had a chilling thought: What if Google really sticks it to us next year? What if they turn off key services, eliminate more data or, most worrying, restrict access to customers?

Now, before we go too far down this path, let’s be clear: I’m not asking whether Google is evil. For the record, I don’t think they are. Neither is Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn (I’ll get to these guys in a minute). Each of these companies is doing its very best to take care of its shareholders. And, to be fair, doing that pretty well.

My question is, is what’s good for their shareholders also good for your business?

Consider the changes Google introduced to the overall digital marketing landscape over the last twelve months:

  • Google has continued to reduce the number of organic first page results. Traditional, “10 blue links”-style search engine results pages (SERP’s) occur less frequently than in the past. Growth of Google Now and Conversational Search may further reduce your opportunity to be seen.
  • Google limited business access to organic search data. While you can get some keyword data from Webmaster Tools, Google no longer provides search query info directly to site operators.
  • Google killed Google Reader. And, to a degree, took RSS with it. Again, in the spirit of fairness, RSS may have been dying (see here and here), whether Google kept Reader or not.
  • Google buried subscribed emails in a secondary, “Promotions” tab within Gmail even for emails customers deliberately subscribed to. Not great from an email marketing perspective, to put it mildly.

Now, let’s see. These changes effectively reduce your opportunities to get in front of customers via organic search, RSS feeds, and email. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d think Google was trying to move businesses towards some other form of advertising. If only they offered a product to help businesses reach more customers, they’d really be able to make some bucks.

Oh, wait…

Anyway, Google isn’t the only one doing these sorts of things:

  • Facebook recently admitted it’s limiting organic reach and recommending use of paid ads. AdAge quotes Facebook, “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site… We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.” [Emphasis mine]
  • Twitter is growing its Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets products. The company is expanding its promotional tools into mobile, providing you another “opportunity” to pay to talk to customers.
  • LinkedIn also launched a “Sponsored Updates,” a paid reach product. Sensing a trend here?

Now, again, none of this is evil. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google all have a right to do whatever they believe is best for their business. And, as public companies, one could argue have a responsibility to their shareholders to increase revenues and profits however they’re able.

You, however, have the right—and a responsibility to your shareholders—to ask whether you want to play along. After all, remember whose brand Google really wants to build.

Now, I doubt you’re going to run away from Google. Or Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or the rest. But it’s highly likely the costs of reaching customers through these channels will rise over the course of the next year. And it’s in your best interest to do more than just accept that.

What can you do about it? A few things, actually:

  • Adapt your mindset. The best digital marketing teams these days often refer more to inbound marketing than search marketing or social media marketing. They’re not focused on any one strategy or tactic; they’re focused on the result. And they’re willing to shift as individual channels gain or decline.
  • Focus on creating compelling content for your customers. Great content will continue to rank well in organic search. Great content will continue to attract links, “Likes,” and “Shares” for search and social benefit. And, most important, great content will continue to attract and engage customers, helping them solve their problems and increasing their awareness of, interest in, and actions towards your brand.
  • Continue to build your mailing list. Yes, I know I said that it’s getting tougher to get seen in your customer’s inbox. But email remains popular among consumers and a cost-effective channel for marketers. Plus, if you’ve got great content, why not share it directly with your customers?
  • Finally, pay attention to search returns, not search rankings. Even if you’re not sure whether to trust Google, that doesn’t mean you can’t put them to work for your brand and your business. Search remains a key driver of traffic and conversions for most businesses. That’s unlikely to change right away (if ever). But instead of gauging your efforts against “rankings” (a dubious metric in an age of increasingly personalized search), measure how effectively search drives your business results. Then invest appropriately to improve those results over the coming year.

I’m pretty sure it was Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II who said, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” I don’t know if Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are enemies. But it’s worth keeping them close in the coming years, just in case.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

  1. The Secrets Behind “It’s All E-commerce” for 2014
  2. The Zen of Digital Marketing Strategy
  3. 7 Steps to E-Commerce Heaven
  4. Today and Tomorrow: Mobile and The Changing Customer Journey
  5. Warning: Mobile Drives Booking Costs Up and 4 Ways to Prevent It (Travel Tuesday)
  6. Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More “Frictionless”
  7. 3 Key Trends for 2013
A version of this post originally appeared on Biznology.
Tim Peter

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October 18, 2013

Does Marketing Still Include Paid Search?

October 18, 2013 | By | No Comments

Paid search and marketingMarketing isn’t art. At least not exclusively. It’s also part science. Which is why I’m troubled when I see smart, capable folks like Vic Drabicky suggest on Marketing Land that paid search is no longer part of marketing.

Yes, there’s been an increase in the amount of technology and automation supporting paid search campaigns. But marketing is about the information side of IT, not the technology side.

And badly executed paid search doesn’t indicate the death of it as a marketing practice. In fact, it indicates opportunity for smart, savvy, capable marketers to use to their advantage. Which is pretty much the point of my latest post on Biznology, “Is Paid Search Part of Marketing?”

Obviously, I think the answer is ‘yes.’ But check out the whole post to see why when you get a minute. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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October 9, 2013

Search's Continued Evolution – Thinks Out Loud Episode 45

October 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

SEO

Search’s Continued Evolution Headlines

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 01s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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August 19, 2013

Say What? Computers May Stop Using Screens and What That Means for Your Business

August 19, 2013 | By | No Comments

Predicting the futureQuartz has a good look at how Google is preparing for screenless computers. Key quote:

“The future of Google’s voice interfaces isn’t just accurate interpretation of commands, but real interaction—hence the ‘conversation’ part of Huffman’s Conversation Search group. One trick Google’s voice interface can already do is understand pronouns like he, she and it. ‘You can ask yourself why in language do things like pronouns exist—well, they exist because it lets us communicate faster than we do without them,’ says Huffman.

To demonstrate, Huffman follows up his question about how far it is to Hearst Castle with the sentence ‘give me directions,’ which doesn’t even include the pronoun ‘it,’ but his phone begins rattling off directions in its tinny computerized voice, anyway.”

I’ve been talking about this trend for a while, (most notably in a Travel Tuesday post called
“What Watson, Xbox, and Google Are Telling You Right Now”). But regardless of the industry, this scenario describes where we’re headed:

“Imagine your customer driving his family to Disney for summer vacation, leaving New York early in the day.

Now imagine 8 hours later, the kids are getting restless and the parents want to find a place to stay somewhere near, say, Nashville, NC.

They’ve got a voice-responsive mobile computer sitting in their center console and the power of Google, or Bing, or Watson on the other end of the line to help them find a hotel that meets their needs and, when they’re ready, book it.”

The key point is that the 10 blue links that make up search results pages are increasingly rare—I recently heard one observer claim those now make up fewer than 15% of all search results (though I’ve been unable to verify that stat).

In any case, your marketing must adapt as your customers adopt new technologies and as their behavior shifts. Google’s doing it today. The real question as you head into planning for next year is what you need to do to get ready.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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July 19, 2013

Local Search is More than Meets the Eye

July 19, 2013 | By | No Comments

20130719-162343.jpgWhen is local not local? It’s not meant as a riddle, but instead as a thought-starter, something to get you thinking about what local really means for your customers.

Oh, and for your brand.

Because, as I write in my latest piece for Mike Moran’s Biznology blog, “Why Local Search is Just Like Politics,” local is about more than just geography (or, more correctly, proximity).

It’s also about those things your customers think about when they really need an answer, when they’re really in the market, when they’re ready to buy. Because local is more than just geography. It’s more than just proximity.

In the immortal words from Jaws: The Revenge, “This time, it’s personal.”

Local search, largely driven by mobile and the “always connected” nature of your customers, is all about personal response.

And my Biznology post explores how you can use that to your advantage in more detail. Check it out if you get the chance.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

Tim Peter

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June 26, 2013

FTC Will Review Google's Pending Waze Acquisition

June 26, 2013 | By | No Comments

Google maps flight search smallA couple of weeks ago, the news broke that Google was buying social-mapping service Waze, which I also talked about at length in the weekly podcast.

Well, not so fast…

According to AllThingsD, the FTC plans to investigate whether the deal violates antitrust. Money quote:

“Google Maps is a leading mapping and navigation service. Waze was a rising rival. In fact, back in April, Waze CEO Noam Bardin was talking up his company as the search behemoth’s only viable competitor in that space.”

I may owe John Pope an apology

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing in a multiscreen world? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here or use the form below to receive yours today.


And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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June 24, 2013

Understanding the Big Picture: Why Visuals Matter to Your Digital Marketing

June 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

Picture thisMany people know that the World Wide Web came from a need to share information stored in documents, with emphasis on text. The http placed in front of every Web address stands for “hyper-text transfer protocol,” HTML stands for “hyper-text markup language,” and, in fact, the creator of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, objected to including a special tag for images in the early HTML specification.

Oh, what a long way we’ve come.

Today, I’d argue the Web is as much about visuals as it is about words. In fact, I argue that precisely in my latest Biznology post, “Why a Picture is Worth a Thousand Clicks: Visuals Boost Your SEO”. Noting Twitter’s acquisition of Vine, Instagram’s addition of video tools, and Facebook allowing images in comments as several examples, I point out:

“Now, those items might not look like much of a trend to you. But, then consider two recent announcements from Google:

  1. The search giant just introduced Local Carousel, including a stream of images to the top of local search results—above the first paid listing and the first organic result, pushing additional organic results well below the fold.
  2. AdWords has launched an AdWords Images Extension beta, including images as part of advertisers’ paid listings.

When Google starts to put its money—and its search engine results pages—behind something, you know it’s a trend worth watching. What Google seems to have learned is that consumers click on items with images more frequently than those without.”

Visual content plays a huge role in driving your customers’ purchase decisions and the clicks that start them down that path. Plenty of studies support that notion. Images and videos are no longer optional in delivering the right experience for your customers. If you’ll pardon the cliché, your pictures really are worth a thousand words.

So, if you want your web presence to really work for your business, I strongly recommend you pay more attention to the visuals you offer. And if you want to make those visuals work for you, take a minute and check out my post over on Biznology. If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s well worth a look.


Interested in learning more about the future of marketing? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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June 21, 2013

Tim Peter

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June 13, 2013