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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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December 18, 2014

Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (3rd Edition) by Bill Hunt and Mike Moran: Book Review of the Week-ish

December 18, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

You know why Google names all its search engine updates — Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc. — after animals? Because keeping up with search engine marketing is a frickin’ zoo. Just when you think you’ve figured out how it all works, Google goes and changes the rules. Again.

Happily, Bill Hunt and Mike Moran’s newly updated “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Website (3rd Edition)” can really help you stay on top of not just the latest changes, but also the underlying logic behind what really makes pages perform well in search. This updated classic provides the right mix of search engine marketing fundamentals, strategic insights, and practical knowledge to help you think about how to make search work for your business no matter what changes Google makes.

If you’re just starting out with search engine marketing, you’ll appreciate the easy, conversational style and clear explanations Hunt and Moran offer, laying out a straightforward, yet scalable framework you can apply to your marketing activities. At the same time, those of you who’ve been around the block a time or two will find new insights into how to increase the value of your search marketing efforts for your business.

I’ve known Mike Moran for a number of years and consider him both a friend and mentor. The same traits that make him a great guy to know — intelligent, funny, and genuinely interested in helping people grow — shine through in this latest edition of “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.”

You can expect Google to continue to change its algorithms and enhance the features of its signature search engine all throughout 2015. But with knowledge as valuable as what’s offered in “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.” in your hands and in your head, you’ll be able to handle Google’s zoo next year and beyond. Grab a copy today.

Interested in learning more about search engine marketing, e-commerce, and digital marketing overall? Check out some of our past posts on those topics, including:

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, if you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure an 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.

Tim Peter

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November 26, 2014

What Google Fears – Thinks Out Loud Episode 100

November 26, 2014 | By | No Comments

Iphone search app homescreen

What Google Fears – 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: 12m 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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October 17, 2014

6 Great Weekend Reads: E-commerce Link Digest

October 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

Millennial use mobile coupleLooks like this is going to be a great weekend here in the Northeast. Hope you get a chance to enjoy the fall weather. But, when you’ve got some downtime, you might want to take a few minutes and check out these 6 great weekend reads. Now, let’s get on with the list:

  1. Marketing Charts shows that mobile neared 40% of organic search traffic in Q3. Um… wow. It’s no secret that mobile’s getting really huge, but that’s a really big number.
  2. eMarketer shares new research showing position is huge for smartphone search ad click-through rates (CTRs), which leads Search Engine Land to ask whether bigger iPhones are better for paid search. The answer, for right now, is no. But the trend bears watching in detail
  3. FutureCommerce gets it right by saying every customer is a mobile customer. Given research that shows 66% of tablet shoppers leverage mobile during path to purchase, I don’t expect this to change anytime soon. All that said, I don’t expect e-commerce will kill retail, as long as retailers, marketers, and merchants recognize the trends and work to support their customers effectively in all channels.
  4. I made a similar point in this week’s Thinks Out Loud episode, which looked at what happens when “It’s All E-commerce” goes wrong.
  5. GetElastic has a cool “Pinfographic” (cute, eh?), showing the link between Pinterest and e-commerce and also offers great insights on the benefit of using Pinterest’s rich pins. As Saks’ director of social media, Qianna Smith, told Luxury Daily Pinterest boards should be extension of merchandising. Good reading.
  6. Another great Luxury Daily article shows streamlining Web sites leads to increased e-commerce. That shouldn’t shock anyone. But it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Have a great weekend, Big Thinkers. And don’t forget to catch up on these “In Case You Missed It: 10 Posts from the Archives,” last week’s Link Digest post, “8 Potentially Game-Changing Trends,” the “8 Crucial Marketing and E-commerce Posts: The Top Posts from September,” and the rest of the E-commerce Link Digest series.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

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.

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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August 21, 2014

The Big Problem with Paid Search on Mobile

August 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

Paid search on mobileI hear from lots of people that they’re not seeing the benefits they’re accustomed to when using paid search on mobile. So much so, that it’s caused a number of businesses to ask, “Does mobile search work?” The answer, as you might imagine, is complicated. But you can essentially assume that, yes, mobile search does work for many (if not all) businesses.

Why’s it so complicated then? If it’s really working, shouldn’t you be able to see the answer clearly? Well… yes and no. As I point out in my latest post for Mike Moran’s Biznology blog:

“…analytics for tracking mobile search aren’t as robust as desktop search. Put more simply, mobile search doesn’t suffer from a performance problem; it suffers from an attribution problem.”

I’d mentioned in yesterday’s podcast that marketing doesn’t have to be hard, noting in particular the need to focus your energies around what works best. But, it’s important to note that without the right measures in place, you might not easily know what’s working. And, today, most of the measures around mobile conversion — for instance, tracking phone orders, measuring mobile-driven in-store traffic, etc. — either undercount the effectiveness of mobile, or don’t work at all.

This isn’t a problem that’s going away immediately, but we’re beginning to see some progress. Soon, with iBeacon, NFC, location-tracking, or other services, expect to see Google and Apple provide information on when customers carry their phones into your restaurants, retail outlets, real estate offices, auto dealerships, hotels, and more for more detailed, end-to-end tracking of customer behavior. And, expect similar details on phone tracking.

Even better, you don’t have to wait for these more futuristic tools. Start looking at more advanced attribution models to track your marketing’s effectiveness. Again, as I noted over on Biznology:

“…start moving away from last-click attribution and begin exploring more robust attribution models within your favorite analytics tool. I’m particularly partial to time-decay attribution as a starting point, which gives more credit to each action closer to the final conversion.”

Because of the rise of millennials in the marketplace, and mobile use across all demographic segments, your business will increasingly depend on the effectiveness of your mobile paid search marketing, to say nothing of social and local services, too. Recognize for now that mobile search works. It’s likely just not getting enough credit for what it delivers. Work on developing the skills and finding the partners who can help you measure its effectiveness. Mobile search is here to stay. Now it’s time to make sure it gets credit.

You can learn more about how customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing by registering 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 attend a webinar called Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year on Tuesday, September 16. You can read all the details here.

Finally, whether you work with Millennials, Boomers, Gen X, or the Silent Generation, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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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

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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

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: