Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

By

July 30, 2014

The State of Search Marketing – Thinks Out Loud Episode 83

July 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

What's the state of search

The State of Search Marketing Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy this look at what your customers expect from e-commerce in 2014 and my slides from the “Digital Marketing Directions – Exploit the Trends that Shape Travel Marketing” talk I gave recently:

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 19s

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

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

By

May 12, 2014

What in the World is Happening with Local Search?

May 12, 2014 | By | One Comment

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

By

May 8, 2014

Why Search and Social Aren’t What They Claim to Be

May 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Social and search don't play by the rulesMost of my clients use a combination of paid media, earned media, and owned media to reach their customers. My latest post for Biznology, “What’s wrong with search and social media marketing?” looks at what those mean:

“Historically, media has been broken into three categories:

  • Paid
  • Earned
  • Owned

Paid media is exactly what it sounds like: You pay someone to share your brand’s message. Paid media also powered broadcast and print’s business models for decades, with broadcasters/publishers enjoying a comfortable living from fees charged to advertisers.

Earned media, by contrast, focused on getting others to tell your story without giving them anything (tangible) in return. Traditionally, PR reflected the most common form of earned media.

Owned media, of course, are media channels that businesses controlled. That would include things like your website and mailing list (both email and snail mail).”

Search and social, however, don’t easily fit into these categories. Sure, you think you pay for search and promotions on social, and that you earn “Likes” and “Shares” and “Follows” and “Friends” across various social channels. But, in fact, you don’t. You don’t own the customers. You don’t even buy access to them. Not really. Because Google and Facebook and Twitter and others can change the rules at any time regarding how and where and when you can talk to your customers. In fact, they do — all the time.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use search or social. Nor does it mean they can’t be valuable channels for reaching the right customer at the right time. What it does mean is that how you use search and social matters.

A lot.

And if you want to know how to use search and social most effectively to reach those customers, check out the full post over on Biznology, “What’s wrong with search and social media marketing?”

And 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

By

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

By

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

By

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

By

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

By

August 7, 2013

Why Search Isn't About Search Any Longer

August 7, 2013 | By | One Comment

Have you seen this?

Google Now local restaurant suggestions

These are “cards” in Google Now, suggestions of restaurants I (or you) might want to check out. Google offered me these cards the other day on my phone.

For no particular reason.

Well, except that these were nearby restaurants. And it was lunchtime.

None of this would be that impressive if not for the fact that I didn’t search for nearby restaurants at lunchtime.

Nope. Google did it for me.

I’d opened the Google app on my phone to search for something else and these cards happened to be right up top, ready when I needed them.

I’ve been talking about the future of search for some time, noting the growth of the channel and shifts in user interface to voice. I’ve even noted the how maps/location-based services continue to change search and the effect these various shifts will have on your overall distribution strategy.

But until you’ve experienced what it’s like to not search and have relevant answers find you, you don’t realize how massive a shift this will really be. As I’ve said before, we’re entering an era where search results will find customers instead of customers finding search results.

And, of course, these shifts depend heavily on Google and its competitors understanding their customers—your customers—deeply. If only there were ways for the AGFAM giants to learn what your customers do. Something that gave them insights into your customers’ social, local, and mobile behaviors.

Oh, right…

Because mobile isn’t just an output device, a place for Google to show its recommended results. It’s also a data-collection device (though, you probably knew that thanks to recent headlines).

The real point here is that because of this data—and the shifts in search it enables—search marketing is changing. Significantly.

The key question is whether you’re changing your search marketing along with it.

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: