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Tim Peter

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October 22, 2014

What the Hell Just Happened to Google? Thinks Out Loud Episode 95

October 22, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile in app advertising

What the Hell Just Happened to Google? Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy the slides from my recent webinar, Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year,:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 40s

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 24, 2014

Panda Attacks: What You Can Learn from eBay’s E-commerce SEO Mistake

July 24, 2014 | By | No Comments

E-commerce SEO tipsFor the last week or so, I’ve been looking at ways to improve your overall e-commerce effectiveness, noting why e-commerce will continue its strong growth, and why e-commerce and mobile go hand-in-hand. But search remains a huge part of effective traffic driver for many businesses. The question you need to worry about: Is your e-commerce SEO up to snuff?

You see, eBay, who you’d think would be really good at both e-commerce and SEO, committed one of Google’s deadly sins: They presented consumers with a large number of thin, uninteresting pages. And Google struck back, delisting tons of pages and cutting eBay’s search engine traffic by greater than 33% (according to Search Engine Land). Well, earlier this week, we all learned that this Panda penalty will cost eBay almost $200 million in revenue this year.

Um… yikes.

The only good news from this story is that you don’t have to let this happen to you. Instead, you can learn from eBay’s mistakes to improve your e-commerce SEO — and stay in Google’s good graces. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

  • Provide your customers useful, helpful, relevant content. Ebay’s biggest problem, by far, was the number of truly awful pages on their site, with many showing a product image, headline, and little else. Create rich, detailed product descriptions for your products and services, work to attract relevant links from appropriate channel partners, and continue to improve your site’s response time to demonstrate to Google — and to your customers — that you offer quality content.
  • Focus on your most important product pages. Your time is your most valuable resource. Don’t waste it worrying about the pages and products no one sees. Instead, put your web analytics and sales data to work, see which products and pages your customers spend the most time with, then focus on improving those pages first. Over time you can then roll out what you’ve learned to the rest of your site.
  • Mobile matters. I know, I know. I’ve talked about the importance of mobile in search and e-commerce for a while now. But I’m serious. It really matters. Mobile now accounts for at least a third of all search traffic. And Google has admitted that mobile-friendly sites rank better in mobile search than those that make it hard for customers to browse, shop, and buy. Regardless of Panda or anything else Google may do, you risk losing customers to competitors if they can’t find your site in Google — or use it when they arrive. Improve your overall e-commerce usability and your mobile presence to help your customers

I’ve looked at each of these items in more detail — plus offered 5 more e-commerce SEO tips — in my latest Biznology column: e-Commerce SEO: How to avoid eBay’s $200 million Panda mistake. Check out the entire list when you get a moment.

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and 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.

You may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing. Again, it was built for a travel audience, but its lessons apply across industries. The full deck is here:

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the e-commerce and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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April 21, 2014

Why You Should Care Where Google’s Search Volume Comes From

April 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

Shopping on mobileMarketing Charts offers some fascinating data that shows mobile is now one-third of Google’s organic search volume, up roughly 22% year-on-year.

Um… damn.

Clearly, we shouldn’t be surprised by this growth. I talk about how big mobile’s getting fairly often. Most of my clients see mobile contributing between 12% to about 35% of their traffic these days, up 20% or more from a year ago.

I don’t see these numbers shifting anytime soon. It’s possible we’ll see some movement towards wearables in the coming months, but for right now, mobile’s where it’s at.

What’s more important than the numbers, of course, is how you respond to this trend. Last week I challenged the notion that retailers lose 32% of shoppers to in-store mobile, noting,

“Customers choose strong brands — Apple, Google, Pepsi, Coke, Harley-Davidson, Fischer Travel, and countless others — because those brands tell an effective story that connects with their customers. Full stop.”

eMarketer offers data that supports that position, showing consumers often choose “…small businesses because of the personalized experiences they provide compared with larger businesses.” These customers also like supporting the local economy, the ease with which they can conduct business, and the sense of accountability they enjoy when interacting with business owners.

Sure, customers can and will shop around for the best price on many items. The ease with which customers can check prices guarantees that behavior (they do, after all, carry the Internet in their pocket). And if your prices don’t align with common sense pricing, yes, you probably will lose the sale. But those same customers define value based on a variety of factors, price being only one of them. You don’t have to be the cheapest game in town (or on the Internet), if your total brand value proposition makes you worth the additional cost.

The Internet has long created and reinforced price transparency. Increasingly, user-generated content like ratings and review sites, creates transparency around product and service quality. And all of those items put together helps your customers define value.

Don’t assume the big boys hold all the cards in this new world. You have the ability to tell a convincing, credible brand story. You have the ability to differentiate yourself from larger competition, using your size as a strength, not a liability. You have the ability to offer your customers personal service and individual attention. And, most importantly, in an age when brands may be struggling to deliver consistently on their promise due to ratings and reviews, you have the ability to win.

Interested in more info about how it’s all e-commerce? Then you might want to check out these slides from a recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results”. Check them out here:

And, 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.

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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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 14, 2013

Can Your Customers Really Trust You?

October 14, 2013 | By | No Comments

Trust me...I knew a girl in college who always dated “bad boys.” You know the type. Guys who lived dangerously, excited her—and occasionally scared her. So I was surprised when I ran into her not long ago and found she’d married a classmate of ours we’d always thought of as, frankly, kind of boring (actually, he used to say the same about himself). I asked her how married life was treating her and she responded, “Awesome! He’s such a good man and a great father. He treats me and the kids right, every day.”

What’s that got to do with marketing? Well, consider the following:

I get how actions like these might help these companies, at least in the short term. But, seriously, what benefit do these actions provide customers?

Peter Drucker’s “The Essential Drucker”
—one of my favorite books and an essential part of any business leader’s library—states as one of its core concepts that the primary function of a business is to create a customer.

Not exploit the customer.

Not deceive the customer.

And certainly not impersonate the customer to confuse others into thinking that customer thinks more highly of you than they might actually do.

Obviously, you want to make money from your customers. That’s OK. I like making money and highly recommend it to all my clients, too. But I mentioned last week that your customer really is king (or, if she prefers, queen). And the traditional response from kings and queens who feel they’re not being treated well usually goes something like, “Off with their heads!”

Trust plays a central role in any customer relationship, regardless of whether your value proposition focuses on customer service, technical leadership, or price. Customers don’t give their money to companies they don’t trust. Full stop.

Google dominates search activity among Internet users. But the AGFAM companies (Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, along with Google) offer potential alternatives, as do offerings from IBM, Foursquare, Yelp, TripAdvisor and countless others. ComicCon attracts a passionate group of attendees, deeply engaged with their “fandoms.” But so do DragonCon, Otakon, and many smaller venues.

But being on top today guarantees nothing about the future.

The Internet changes customer behavior and mobile accelerates that change. Customers can find whatever they want, whenever they want, buy from whomever they want and can share that information with their friends, family, fans and followers, pretty much always.

So go ahead and impersonate your customers, use their private information as you will, spread messages in their name whether they want you to or not. The may enjoy the excitement you provide and may want a walk on the wild side, at least for a while. But, just like my college friend, no matter how much they might like dating the dangerous ones, their long-term relationships always will gravitate towards the ones who treat them right.

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

By

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 9, 2013

What Do In-line Ads on Google Maps Mean to You?

August 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Google mapsArs Technica highlights the introduction of in-line ads to Maps apps:

“Now, when users conduct Maps searches, Maps will be able to feature an ad for a relevant location along the bottom of the screen. The ad will appear within the app as if it’s a location the user has already selected from the map of available options, with a name, short description, and a travel time estimate appearing along the bottom of the screen. The ads will be identified by a tiny purple box off to the side in the listing that reads ‘Ad.’”

I’ve been talking about the growth of Google Maps as a channel a lot lately and how that’s going to change your online sales and marketing activities. Google said that more than 40% of Maps use was on mobile over two years ago. I’m still looking for an updated number, but am very confident it’s grown.

This move just underscores the growth of Maps use as well as Google’s increased focus on Maps as a platform for marketers. If you’re wondering how your customers will find you in the future, it’s almost as though Google’s given us a map.

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

By

August 1, 2013

The Web is Maturing. Shouldn't Your Digital Marketing? Thinks Out Loud Episode 37

August 1, 2013 | By | No Comments

Mobile in app advertising

Headlines

And, as promised in the podcast, you can 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 54s

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: