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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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February 3, 2014

Is Guest Blogging Dead?

February 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Is it time to give up on guest blogging?Matt Cutts sure knows how to get the SEO community worked up, doesn’t he? Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, told the community recently that guest blogging is dead, due to its overuse by search marketing companies for link-building. Money quote:

‘Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains. We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking “guest post outsourcing” and writing articles about “how to automate guest blogging.”’ [Editor's Note: The deluge of requests like these that I receive on a daily basis is one of the reasons I'm no longer accepting unsolicited guest posts]

Anyway, no one would blame you if you said, “OK. That’s good enough for me. I’ll never guest post again.” After all, when Google (in the form of Matt Cutts) says something’s toast, well, that’s usually good enough for most people.

It’s also wrong.

The reality is much more complex than that. Guest blogging, when done well, isn’t only about links. In theory, anyway, guest blogging is supposed to be about raising awareness of and traffic to your brand’s web presence (and both of those comprise a huge part of a solid e-commerce and Internet marketing strategy). Given that that’s the case, why would throw away years of work building relationships with publishers and bloggers? And why would you abandon a tactic that offers you brand awareness and traffic? 

Done well, guest blogging can (and often should) continue to be part of your brand’s Internet marketing efforts. In fact, Cutts suggested the same in the comments to his original post (Search Engine Land offers a solid round-up in the “Postscript” of this article).

Among the ways you can make it work for your brand include:

  • Focusing on quality sites in your market, emphasizing quality over quantity.
  • Building the right content for your site first. 
  • Writing and commenting regularly on a small set of external sites to build a relationship.
  • Tracking traffic and conversions from your selected sites.

My latest Biznology post explores each of these tactics (and several others) in more detail. Check out the whole post, “Should Guest Blogging Still Be Part of Your SEO Strategy?” when you get a chance for more tips on how to make guest blogging work for your brand. Because guest blogging is not dead. Not by a long shot. (And, no, it’s not a zombie, either). Like much of Internet marketing, it’s evolving and changing as your customers change. The question is whether you’re changing along with it.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole post over on Biznology.

I’d also recommend you look at this presentation, “Today and Tomorrow: The Changing Customer Journey,” which looks at how your customers are changing… and how you can change with them:

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.

Finally, 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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November 12, 2013

Google Makes it Easier for Guests to Book From Mobile. Do You? (Travel Tuesday)

November 12, 2013 | By | No Comments

Mobile commerce grows upI’m in the midst of putting together a look at trends that will shape travel marketing in 2014, something I’ve talked about a lot recently.

One of the things very worth watching is the serious emergence of mobile into the payment process. While still relatively small, it projects as a $90 billion business in just a few years. It’s one of the reasons that every one of the AGFAM players, (Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft)—and a number of smaller companies—now offer a mobile payment option of some kind.

Most interesting from the standpoint of travel marketers is Google’s recent addition of mobile payments in Google Hotel Finder. Check this out:

“To save you more time, you can also complete the reservation with a few clicks using Google Wallet: Just look for the “Buy with Google” icon for a booking partner that allows you to easily and securely pay with Google Wallet. This will leave you more time to worry about what to pack.

If you don’t have a Google Wallet account, don’t worry. You only need to enter the payment details once when booking your first hotel. Google Wallet saves your information securely so you don’t need to re-enter it every time.” [Emphasis mine]

Yep. Google will help out your customers by automatically saving their payment information for future transactions. That’s really nice of them, isn’t it?

Why should you care?

Well, it’s pretty simple.

It’s a well established fact that increasing the payment options your website accepts increases conversion rate, largely because consumers often prefer certain payment options (or because they have no better choice), and won’t/can’t pay with the available options offered. More payment options equals “friction-free” commerce equals increased conversions.

By offering this feature, Google is removing a pain point for many guests that currently prevents mobile booking.

Remember, given the increasing use of mobile and tablets, there’s no longer any such thing as an “offline” customer. And hotels and booking engines that make it easier for guests to research and book regardless of device or context will, unsurprisingly, benefit from increased reservations volume.

As you begin to gear up for 2014, it’s critical you pay attention to who’s making it easy for your guests to book via mobile, regardless of whether they’re an “traditional” search engine, OTA, metasearch, or booking engine provider. Those are the companies that will come to dominate online booking and, increasingly, all reservations.

Finally, keep these facts in mind if you’re looking at a new website or booking engine for your property, too. Too many hotels fell behind third-parties as web booking grew in importance. As guests shift to mobile, wouldn’t you rather dominate booking for your properly than surrendering it to a third-party again?

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 2, 2013

Google's SEO Shutdown?

October 2, 2013 | By | No Comments

Google's SEO Shutdown

Google’s SEO Shutdown 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: 19m 59s

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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September 3, 2013

Is Google Destined to Win?

September 3, 2013 | By | No Comments

Who is destined to win?

“…Destiny is just another word for inevitable, and nothing’s inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye, and say, ‘You’re evitable!’” Winifred ‘Fred’ Burkle, Angel episode #3.7, “Offspring”

When it comes to the future of online travel—and, yes, that very much includes mobile—no one is “destined” to win. Not Google. Not Expedia. Not Booking.com. Nor Priceline, TripAdvisor, Hipmunk. No one.

For reals.

Take a look at a couple of companies who once were “destined” to win and where they are right now:

  • Travelocity all but created the online travel space. Now they’ve all but been purchased by Expedia.
  • Speaking of Expedia, everybody knew Expedia would dominate online travel. Yet, Priceline, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com have got the online travel giant looking over their shoulder with worry. Or, rather, wondering how they got passed so fast.

Despite compelling arguments to the contrary, Google is no more immune to market risks and competition than anyone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Google has a number of assets in its favor. They’ve built a remarkable machine for gathering and understanding customer data. They spend tremendous resources listening and responding to customer needs. And they’ve got a healthy head start.

Those undoubtably represent significant advantages relative to any resurgent heavyweight or upstart competitor.

But, plenty of upstarts have excelled throughout the years by exploiting larger rivals’ weaknesses and blind spots. It happens all the time, even when the bigger company ought to know better. For example, the market-leading Internet portal/search engine Excite—which had achieved its success by outmaneuvering Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and Netscape—once had the opportunity to buy a tiny startup offering a compelling new feature for the bargain basement price of $750,000 (Excite was then valued at $35 billion). Excite passed, feeling that a.) the price was too high for such a simple tool and, b.) their technology and strategic advantages would enable continued market dominance.

Um… yeah. That worked out well for Excite.

The startup’s name? C’mon, say it with me now: Google.

Google’s advantages today are much more significant than Excite’s were, of course. Just like Microsoft’s were in PC’s not too long ago. And Expedia’s in travel. And Blackberry’s in smartphones. And Nokia’s in feature phones.

Funny how that worked out for all those players, eh?

Unsurprisingly, Google isn’t exactly resting on its laurels. Plenty of start-ups and incumbent players recognize the opportunity and are pursuing it aggressively. As Glenn Gruber writes for Tnooz, “there is a major job still to be done in mobile travel.” Google’s making great moves in that area. But that doesn’t mean they’re destined to win.

The bad news, of course, is the same is true for you. The future belongs to those who show up, who plan, and who execute. Every. Single. Day. Destiny belongs to those who take it.

Vacation’s over. Let’s get to work.

If you’re interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going—as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries—register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” You can get your free copy of the report here.

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes in the marketplace, including:

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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June 27, 2013

Tim Peter

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June 17, 2013

How Safe is Your Industry From Amazon?

June 17, 2013 | By | One Comment

The value of speedYour industry is dying. And it’s all Amazon’s fault.

Many existing companies, and entire industries, exhibit a siege mentality. Travel long ago shifted away from travel agents and towards online players. Newspapers and magazines seem locked in a race to the bottom, competing for fewer and fewer ad dollars. Big-box retail is screwed. Just this week, Derek Thompson at The Atlantic noted,

“[JCPenney] …is just the latest bold-faced retail brand on the brink of extinction. Circuit City is dead; Best Buy is dying. Borders is gone; Barnes & Noble is shuttering storefronts. Kmart has closed 40 percent of its stores in the past decade. As recently as 1998, Sears was in the Dow 30. Today, Sears Holding isn’t even in the S&P 500. “

And it doesn’t matter how strong your brand is. During a recent panel discussion, Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg sat in front of a rapt audience and,

“…predicted an “implosion” in the film industry is inevitable, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever. “

George Lucas echoed that point, stating,

“‘You’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can’t get their movie into a theater,’ [George] Lucas said.”

Back in the “Web 1.0″ world of 1995-2001, people called this trend “getting Amazon’d.” Meaning, of course, that the web retailer (or similar players in other industries), was making off with your customers by offering lower prices, product innovations, or, more rarely, improved customer service.

To be fair, it wasn’t/isn’t just Amazon. It’s also Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft (or, as I call ‘em, AGFAM). And it’s their smaller competitors, nipping at these larger players’ heels — or, more commonly, building on their platforms.

I’ve been talking about these changes for a while (for example, here and here). But Daniel Burrus on LinkedIn succinctly explains the importance of these changes,

“Three digital accelerators have been driving the transition from change to transformation for many years, but due to their predictable exponential rate, they have now reached an inflection point — a point where processes, products, services, and careers no longer change; rather, they transform. The three digital accelerators are processing power, digital storage, and digital bandwidth.”

Or, as they’re also known, Moore’s Law, Kryder’s Law, and Butter’s Law, respectively.

Because these laws foliow an exponential curve, they get bigger, faster, than most people can get their head around.

For instance, Moore’s Law effectively says that a given amount of computing power doubles once every 18 months. That means in practice that computing power gets 10 times more powerful every 5 years and 100 times more powerful every ten. The corollary states that the price for a given amount of computing power will decrease by half in 18 months.

Put another way, the mobile phone in your pocket will be 10 times as powerful in just 5 years and almost 100 times more powerful within 10 years. You can see why that’s tough to grasp. So, to put it more simply, the current top-of-the-line iPhones, iPads, and Android devices will cost between $1.99 and $6.99 within a decade.

Don’t believe me? Microsoft recently placed a print ad in Forbes magazine that functioned as a T-mobile wireless router. Even with Microsoft’s deep pockets, you wouldn’t throw away hundreds or thousands of brand new routers, would you? Of course not. But you could afford to throw away 10-year old ones.

But the real question is whether this has to be this way.

I say of course not.

Now, obviously, advances in computing power and storage and bandwidth will change the way your customers interact with your business and your industry. I don’t dispute this fact. And of course many companies (such as the AGFAM-ily) will seek to exploit the opportunities these advances provide.

But as Thompson notes in the Atlantic piece, while highlighting customer-focused retailers like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, and QuikTrip,

“Increasingly, there seem to be two kinds of stores—those in a race to the price bottom, and those closely guarding the patina of a shopping experience. Perhaps that’s because, more and more, there are two distinct kinds of customers.” [Emphasis mine]

Marketing is always about meeting your customers’ needs. Period. It doesn’t matter whether two types of customers exist, three, or a dozen. Technology advances offer an opportunity to meet the needs those customer types have head on.

A former boss of mine used to talk about “the power of ‘and’.” Meaning, that most things weren’t “either/or.” For example, it’s not Amazon or you, Google or you, Facebook or you. It’s all of these at the same time.

Don’t run in fear from Amazon (or Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft). Embrace the realities that Moore’s Law (and Kryder’s Law, and Butter’s Law) create. Take a good look at what your customers are doing, how their needs are changing, and how the tools offered by the big boys (and their smaller competitors) help you address those customer needs.

Your industry undoubtedly faces challenges from the folks directly in the AGFAM group and those using their platforms to challenge the status quo. Those efforts will likely cause your industry, at least as you know it today, to die. But by focusing on recognizing and adapting to your customers’ changing needs, no one says you have to die with it.

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

By

June 12, 2013

Do Guests Search for Travel in Maps? Why They Will Now

June 12, 2013 | By | No Comments

Google maps flight search smallAlex Kremer on Tnooz highlighted the addition of flight prices to Google Maps earlier this week. To put it mildly, it’s a really big deal. A game-changer. For reals. I explain why in my Travel Tuesday post, “4 Reasons Why Google Metasearch in Maps Matters (Travel Tuesday)”.

One argument against this enhancement suggests people don’t search for travel on map services at all, so what makes this a big deal? Well, as I note in the post,

“I think it’s certainly true that people don’t search for flights on Google Maps. At least prior to today, why would they?

But once early adopters begin to gain the advantages metasearch has long promised, why wouldn’t savvy travelers search for flights on Google Maps? “

You can read the whole post here.

Interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going — as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World” here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes, including:

Tim Peter

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May 22, 2013

What Voice-Powered Search Will Do For Travel Marketing

May 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

Changes in searchThe drive market (i.e., folks traveling by car with no reservations booked) has long represented the holy grail for travel marketers, an almost mythical creation, promising fabulous rewards if only someone could figure out how to reach it.

Not that no one’s tried. Obviously, outdoor media has dominated the push for drive market travelers. But the returns from print and outdoor have proved mixed and attribution almost impossible (and, yes, there is some correlation there).

But, there’s hope on the horizon. Search is changing in a big way. And with those changes comes the opportunity to reach drive market travelers — as well as loads of other folks, too.

You can read all about this development in this week’s Thinks Travel Tuesday post: What Watson, Xbox, and Google Are Telling You Right Now. Check it out if you get the chance.

You can also 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 the social, local, mobile web, including:

Tim Peter

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May 22, 2013

Google’s Big Secret: What Search Engine Marketing Will Look Like Next Year | Biznology

May 22, 2013 | By | 2 Comments

Search successWhat is a search engine? While that may seem like a crazy question, the world of search continues to change dramatically.

For instance, I took a look at how changes in search interfaces are changing the landscape for travel marketers (as well as many other verticals) yesterday. And my latest Biznology post looks at how these shifts in the marketplace will change what we know about search marketing. These changes include:

  1. A major decline in the number of organic search results
  2. A big increase in the number of search engines
  3. Marketers entering the era of “peak search”

As these changes come into sharper focus, what you do to market your business will change. As will your definition of a search engine. The whole post, Google’s Big Secret: What Search Engine Marketing Will Look Like Next Year, is over at Biznology. Take a look if you get a chance.

And if you’re interested in even more information about the changes in the marketplace, 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 the social, local, mobile web, including: