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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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June 6, 2014

What Google Won’t Tell You About Search Engine Marketing

June 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

Do you know what a search engine really is? Do you know how search engine marketing is continuing to evolve? No? Well, eMarketer has some crazy research out this week that talks about how companies are shifting US mobile ad dollars to search apps and how that will affect your business:

“As smartphone and tablet usage continue to increase, users are becoming more sophisticated, blurring their mental division between browsers and apps. Mobile marketers are responding to the fact that mobile search behavior is becoming less comparable with its desktop/laptop counterpart, and as a result, the market for mobile search advertising continues to fragment.”

Once upon a time, I posed a trick question, asking you all to consider the following image and answer which of the apps shown were search engines:

What is a search engine?

The reason it’s a trick question is because all these apps are search engines, with many vertical apps today taking the place of “traditional” search. As eMarketer notes:

“Google owned 82.8% of the $2.24 billion mobile search market in 2012… Google still dominates browser-based searches on mobile devices, but niche search apps are also becoming much more prevalent. This caused Google’s share to drop to 68.5% in 2013, according to eMarketer estimates, while the long tail of “other” companies increased share from 5.4% to 22.9%. This year, we expect Google’s share to fall again, to 65.7%, while the “other” category reaches 27.3%.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that Google’s shrinking, only that the use of mobile apps is growing faster than search overall as a means for customs to get answers to their questions.

So, who’s winning? It’s not just “search engines.” While “…search stalwarts like Yahoo and Bing” do well, a whole category known as “Other” has gained significant share. Who are they?

““Other” also includes niche service providers such as travel metasearch apps like KAYAK, job search apps like Indeed, e-commerce sales apps like Amazon and contextual search apps like Shazam… and Yelp is one of the companies beginning to emerge from the pack”

So, Google’s fallen from roughly 83% of all “searches” to only about 2/3rds in less than two years, with Yelp, Amazon, Kayak, and others gaining huge volumes. This demonstrates why I’ve suggested that local search increasingly is all about apps and that search engines will look very different in the coming months and years.

That’s also why I continue to recommend you improve your marketing through a variety of tactics:

  • Build your email list and social connections. Bypass any intermediary — search engine or otherwise — and talk directly with your customers.
  • Explore alternative marketing channels. Evaluate channels in use by your customers and seek ways to help them accomplish their goals in those channels.
  • Learn from market leaders. A number of outstanding companies are using mobile to deepen their relationship with customers. Watch for best practices and look for opportunities to apply them to your business.

I can’t tell you for sure what search engines will look like in a year’s time — or whether your customers will use “search engines” at all. However, I can tell you how to prepare so that no matter how your customers search, you want to be sure they can find you.

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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing:

Finally, 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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May 12, 2014

What in the World is Happening with Local Search?

May 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

Man using smartphoneThere’s some interesting stuff going on in the world of small business web marketing, particularly with regard to restaurants that has huge impact on local search. Check this out:

Now, some folks suggest this is all about Google competing with Yelp. And I suspect that’s true.

But I also suspect that’s only part of the story.

For one thing, that doesn’t take into account what other players offer at all. Square’s Order app (only available in New York and San Francisco, at the moment), TripAdvisor (though only in France, I believe), and OpenTable, for instance, provide similar functionality and, more importantly, valuable relationships with restauranteurs.

On top of that, most of the write-ups I’ve seen about these acquisitions fail to note that, according to Yodle, “…more than half of SMB owners do not have a website (52%) or even measure the results of their marketing programs (56%).”

Instead, here’s what I think is happening — and why you should care.

I suspect the real reason for these moves is the current shift among consumers towards app usage. Google has relied on search to fill its coffers for years. And as consumers instead use apps to find, research, browse, and buy from local vendors they know and trust — and all evidence suggests they do — Google could easily find itself on the outside looking in. Square, by offering low-cost credit card readers to many small businesses, has gotten a toe-hold with those businesses directly. And they’re starting to use that toe-hold as a stepping stone (if I can mix metaphors), to drive customers to those businesses.

Just like a search engine would.

OpenTable already does the same thing. So does Yelp. And TripAdvisor.

All these tools rely on content from their small business partners. Content that used to be the domain of search engines and, increasingly, appear as the domain of apps.

What all this reflects is the reality that consumers don’t search on the desktop the way they once did (this is the part you should care about). Mobile is changing customer behavior in seriously meaningful ways.

Google sees it. Square sees it. TripAdvisor and Yelp and Foursquare and Facebook and plenty of others see it too. The question is whether you’re doing everything you can to ensure your business benefits, too.

[Note: Updated to include reference to TripAdvisor's purchase of LaFourchette (which I left out originally) and Yelp's launch of Yelp Reservations, which, literally happened about 12 hours after I first hit publish. Again, interesting times, well worth watching.]

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, you might want to 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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing:

Finally, 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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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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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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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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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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July 15, 2013

3 Reasons Why Blogging Still Works for Marketing

July 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

Blogging still works as a marketing techniqueIt’s no secret I’ve long been a fan of blogging for business. And, for the most part, I still am [*].

But in prep for announcing this year’s Blogging All-Star Lineup (you can see last year’s list here), I thought I’d give you three reasons why blogging still makes sense for your business:

  1. Your customers have questions that need answering. Customers, regardless of what they’re looking for, continue to begin their journey with search. And those that ask their friends (either IRL folks, or those they know only through social networks), typically rely on well-informed individuals. Guess where those well-informed folks get their information.
  2. You have answers for those questions. I’m sure you do. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be world-class (though, it helps). What you do have to do is a.) know more than your customers do and, b.) don’t overstate what you do know. A big part of your brand story is based on what’s true about you. Your customers are smart. They’ll see through BS. Just tell the truth about where you’re able to help and the people who need that help will find you.
  3. You want to rank well in search engines when people ask those questions. Not much to say about this one.

Blogging isn’t a panacea. It isn’t a silver bullet. It isn’t the Holy Grail. But in an era when many happily flit from technique to technique in hopes of finding a panacea/silver bullet/Holy Grail, it’s amazing how effective a well-structured blog that focuses on answering your customers’ needs works for many, many businesses.

Now, check back tomorrow when I announce this year’s Marketing and E-commerce Blogging All-Stars, the folks who share what they know to help your business grow.

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:

[*] – Of course exceptions exist. But, for many businesses, I think you should probably blog for your business. (I’m open to hearing about edge cases; let me know your reasons against in the comments).

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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May 23, 2013

Tim Peter

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January 25, 2013