Yodle’s Link Building Strategy

Court Cunningham, Yodle’s CEO, recently talked about Yodle being “experts in automation” and that’s reflected in their recently launched organic product’s method of link building. Here is how it appears to work: The customer writes an article/blog post on Yodle’s website, local.yodle.com, and links back to their own site. This allows Yodle to pass the power of their own domain to their customers. Interesting.

What’s brilliant from an “automation expert” point of view is that they turned the job of creating content over to the customer; eliminating the time and cost of producing good content. Here’s an example.

The client’s original site needs to be seen to be believed— here it is. So, I have little doubt that Yodle can help them or that this small business owner knows a single thing about web marketing for that matter. But my problem with this from a customer stand point is that the link building is being done on the site created by Yodle, the .net version of the domain. Which means they are just renting the SEO. Because there is such a long time investment required in an organic campaign this represents the SEO version of holding a gun to the client’s head if they wish to cancel.

Or perhaps Court Cunningham is trying to automate a solution to the churn problem.

What are your thoughts on this type of SEO? Does the customer’s level of sophistication matter here? Is this the future SEO business model?

Posted in Local Search | 13 Comments

Free G1 – No Kidding!

At Christmas I got a Droid. That’s good.

I had 10 months left on my T-mobile contract. That’s good for you.

Here’s the offer. You get the G1 for free. You need to agree to take over my contract.

What’s in it for you:

  • Free G1
  • Contract Expires in October, so you are only locked in for 10 mos., NOT 2 years like me!
  • The phone is awesome, only slightly less awesome than the droid :)

What’s in it for me:

  • I get my $200 T-mobile penalty back

Contract Details:

The contract is $49.00/mo for 400 minutes on T-Mobile. With that you have access to the internet on wifi, phone, music player. Kind’ve like an ipod touch with Gmail and a phone.
Optional: Add $30 month for data plan to get on 3g.

If you need any addt’l info you can ask in the comments below. If you’re interested please use the contact form near the bottom of this page.

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Adwords Click To Call Trouble Address shows in ads, but phone number is missing.


Last week Google formally launched its Click-to-Call functionality in Adwords. Greg Sterling spoke with Paul Feng, Google’s Group Product Manager for Mobile Ads, about this new feature. Feng said that some advertisers in Google’s Click-to-Call tests saw improvement in CTR’s up to 30%, compared to ads on the PC. Sterling goes on to hypothesis that the local number provides additional credibility, making the user more inclined to click or call.

I share Sterling’s theory about the power of a local number in CTR. We’ve been including local numbers in service business ads for some time now, and they consistently outperform ads without numbers. Sure, with the numbers in we have less room for creative, but if CTR is better it’s a no brainer.

So after reading that Google made Click-to-Call functional we set it up for a garage door repair company in Fairfield County. We thought Click-to-Call would be a pretty good thing for them. Mobile users in Las Vegas looking to repair the garage door would be able to call for service right away, no need to go through the website.

So we followed Googles “2 Simple Steps” for setting this up:

1)Set up location extensions and add your business phone number. Customers will be able to click to call your business location nearest to them (as determined by the phone’s location awareness technologies, GPS, triangulation).
2)Check that you’ve chosen to show your ads on iPhones and other mobile devices with full Internet browsers in your campaign settings.

After making these simple changes to your campaign settings, you should see something resembling the picture above.

Split Your Campaign Into PC and Mobile

We decided to split our campaigns into two groups: One for just mobile, and one for just Desktops.
This way we can tailor the content of the ad and their landing pages to the mobile user. Plus we want to see just how effective these ads are against the regular ones.

Anyway, we set everything up and then pulled out our iPhones and Droids to test it. Here’s what we saw.

Garage Door Repair Las Vegas

The click to call number wasn’t displaying! The address was showing, so we knew we got it right. What happened?

How come my address shows in my ads, but my phone number is missing?

We double and triple checked our settings and ads. Everything was set up correctly, but why wasn’t the phone number displaying? The AdWords Help page wasn’t useful, offering only the advice to make sure you haven’t set up custom targeting to show an address with the ad. We hadn’t.

We finally threw in the towel and contacted AdWords support. Here’s the answer we got:


So if you’re having the same problem getting your Click-to-Call numbers displaying, don’t worry. Google just needs time to catch up.

Guest Post by Chris Keenan.
Chris Keenan is a PPC Account Manager at A2Opinion, a local search marketing agency.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Grab A Top Spot In Google Using Superpages PPC – A Guide

With Superpages ranking highly in Google for a ton of local search queries you may want to figure out how to get your listing to the #1 spot so when folks click-thru from these top rankings you become the number 1 choice. This is just a little twist on barnacle seo using SuperPages PPC to get high quality traffic to your website.

Search Results Page For What Is Sure To Be A Very Popular Query In The Coming Months

Search Results Page For What Is Sure To Be A Very Popular Query

Begin by doing a search on Superpages.com for your type of business, get a feel for it. Think about what a consumer would type in when looking for a business like yours. Is your competition there? If not keep looking, you might be in the wrong category? Think about what a consumer would type, not what YOU think they SHOULD type :)

You found your category? Good. Now go back to the results and look in the left-hand most column. You’ll find suggested related categories under best match. Write down the ones that apply to you. Below that you’ll see headings: Products, Services & Brands. I’ll tell you how to get your business listing in those “categories” when we talk about the business profle later in this post.

Let’s talk about the layout. Superpages has 2 columns of listings, in a well-searched heading both are dominated by advertisers. As you would expect the left column of listings is going to get the majority of traffic. Forget about the right unless your interested in advertising nationally.

The left column contains up to 25 listings with up to 10 pay-per-click advertisers. The rest of this post will be dedicated to using pay per click on superpages as it is only way to grab the top spots.

Ok, here’s how it works – the Algo. Like Google, placement is based on relevance so placement is determined by your Click-Thru-Rate (CTR) as well as your Bid Amount. So like Google you want to write compelling copy.

Unlike Google, superpages has 4 campaign types and you need to understand them to know in what types of searches your ad will show and the types of searches in which your ad will not show.

  1. Local
  2. Metro
  3. State
  4. National

Your account can have as many campaigns as you like.

Advertisers that use a Local and/or Meto campaign will show in the results when a town or city is included in the searcher’s query. For example, Chiropractor Paramus NJ would display only advertisers in Local & Metro campaigns (covering the Paramus area).

In a Local Campaign you can advertise in your
a) Your Home City
b) Your Home County which will obviously include your home city.
c) Your Home County + ANY County That borders that County.
Counties separated by water are in most cases ok when reasonable. Bergen County NJ borders Westchester County NY despite the Hudson but Orange County Ca is not considered local to Hawaii.

Metro areas are pre-determined by superpages and coverage area maps are provided in the account set up tools in the PPC portal.

State campaigns are shown when the city is omitted and just the state is typed-in. For example, Chiropractor NJ.
This isn’t very practical for a local business and I don’t use it. If, however, you target the whole state you can and probably should include this.

National – No geography is used by the searcher indicating they want to search the whole country. Not a good option for a local business.

Local and Metro campaigns are your best bet so let’s talk more about those options. Your goal is to cover your entire service area without showing your ad in areas you don’t service. Obviously showing ads outside your service area is going to cost you money without any hope of a return.

If your service area is larger than just your home & contiguous counties, you will need to go to a Metro campaign to cover your whole service area. Maps of Metro areas are provided as you set up your progam on the superpages.com ppc portal. If your service area is bigger than Local but smaller than a Metro, you’ll have to decide. Perhaps start with a Local and move up if you find the ROI is there.

If you do a metro campaign, you will want to include a local campaign as well. The more local you get the more local signals you can provide at the listing level. You may choose to display your actual address in the local campaign and hide it in your metro. There are advantages to displaying your actual address in a local campaign I’ve been told, but I think I’ll save that for a future post.

As you go through the portal, superpages walks you through setting up a campaign step by step in the fashion of a wizard. When you get to the business profile option you’ll want to fill out as best you can as each word you include in your business profile becomes a keyword that will allow you to come up in a keyword search.

Superpages.com is kind of a hybrid between a search engine and IYP as it will search for business categories like a traditional Internet Yellow Pages but it will also search for keywords if the query demands it. And the place it seaches for keywords is the business profile.

You will also need to determine what links you want to do display at the listing level. Go back to superpages.com and do a search. Under the listings you will notice links. Phone, More Info, Map it, Email etc. These are all clickable and in a pay per click you can imagine what that means. You guessed it, you’ll pay the full price of the click and might never even get traffic to your website if you decide to display these links. You are also likely to have a higher CTR than a business that doesn’t display them. I’ve made the decision that I will only pay for a click to my website, so the only clickable item I will display as part of my listing is the url. If I need to bid higher because of decreased CTR I will do so.

Because I track my site using Google Analytics I also use url builder otherwise the traffic will show as direct traffic in Google Analytics. If you don’t understand that last sentence. Don’t worry about it. Use the tracking provided by superpages.com and don’t give this paragraph another thought.

Posted in Local Search, SEM, Website Design | 10 Comments

70% Increase In Conversion And A Lesson In Human Nature

Although every website defines conversion a little differently, we all need visitors to take some desired action. We need them to advance one step at a time until hopefully they become a customer. Because ours is a service business we need a phone call. And because the particular site I’ll refer to in this post is a national franchise that repairs and installs garage doors, we need our visitors to find the local franchise in order to make a phone call. So, the desired action is simply to enter a zip code into the zip code box. Which was happening at a rate of about 8%.

So we did a redesign, here’s what the 2 pages looked like:

Original Page

Original Page

New Layout

New Layout

The goal was to create a cleaner look that emphasized the desired action by isolating it above the fold. The result using website optimizer for a month showed only the chance of a slight improvement.

Original Vs New Layout

Original Vs New Layout

Then we added a video spokesperson to the new layout.

New Layout With Video Spokesperson Added

New Layout With Video Spokesperson Added

The video contained a spokesperson that highlighted one or two important reasons to choose us and asked visitors to enter their zip code in the box. We pitted this new page with video against the original in 2 separate experiments. In the first, the video was present but did not start automatically, the player needed to be clicked to launch the video.

In the second, the video was launched automatically.

You want to take a guess which was the winning combination?

The combination where the video needed to be activated by the searcher was the only combination that showed significant gain and it was dramatic. The desired action was taken 70.5% more often and Google was very confident that should continue – 99.9%!

Website Optimizer Shows 70.5% Increase

Website Optimizer Shows 70.5% Increase

I learned a long time ago when selling yellow pages that when people get information on their own they trust it more. I always believed that was true of search as well. Now, I’ll add video to that list.

My takeaway from this experiment is that if you want someone to do something you have to tell them to do it— just wait until your asked to tell them. We’ve added this same spokesmodel to some local sites. She’s telling the site’s visitors to go ahead and a make a phone call, but only after that information has been politely requested.

(Full disclosure: At this time I have no affiliation with Live Face On Web. However, based on this experience, we are currently in negotiations to become a reseller of this product. Whether we do or not I do not yet know.)

Posted in Analytics | 6 Comments

Google Maps Favorite Place Badge – Help Yourself

I read Matt McGee’s post on promoting Google Favorite Place status on more than just your window and I thought how right he is!

The problem is I couldn’t find a badge to display on the site. So, we created one. Here it is:

Favorite Place on Google Maps Badge

If you are a favorite place in Google Maps and would like to display this on your site please feel free to right-click and download.

Because I do believe this is good social proof, when used it I put it in a prominent place in the left side bar with a link to the maps listing that is the favorite place. If you would like to see an example, you can see I did it here for a garage door company in San Diego

Posted in Google Maps | 10 Comments

Google Product Listing Ads Of The Third Kind

Over the weekend I had my first sighting of the new Google Product Listing Ads.
Having missed all the write-ups last week I was shocked when they showed up in a search I was doing over the weekend.

Visually dominant and uber-relevant, these ads dominated my attention as a search marketer and someone looking for an above ground pool.

Screen cap of my first sighting and interaction with a Google Product Listing Ad.
Google Product Listing Ads

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Google Maps Update – 10 Pack Displays For County Search

Google continues to expand the types of searches for which it displays the 10-Pack. Today for the first time I found the 10 pack for a search with a county geography.


Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

How Much Does Yodle Charge?

In the light of Borrell Associates recent study that showed astronomical churn rates at local search resellers like Yodle and ReachLocal, there has been a lot of speculation about the reasons why. I commented on David Mihm’s Blog that price is a big issue and how much they charge is still unknown.

Andrew Shotland, a a well respected seo, speculated on that same post that cost was probably between 30% – 50% of spend.

Here is what 2 customers of a prominent reseller told me:

I told them I wouldn’t do business with them until they told me how much they charged. I knew they weren’t doing it for free so I pressed. They still wouldn’t tell me and I continued to press until finally they got a manager who told me “We get the clicks at a discount from Google, so you would be paying the same thing as if you did it on your own”

That last statement sent my eyebrows up to the ceiling. The customer asked me if I could find out for him whether it is true or not. I told him that I would put out to the community.

I would like your opinion please help by commenting below.

Do you believe that some resellers get a lower price on clicks from Google and make their money on that spread?

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

The Most Important Analytics In Local Search

The analytics of local search are different than e-commerce; avg. time on site, pages/visit & bounce rate are largely measures of engagement and e-commerce. Yet, us local searcherati try to fit these square pegs into our round holes. Why? Because these are the tools Google Analytics made available to us.

Let’s face it, we never considered these metrics prior to the GA installation, and then after we hooked up GA, we had to do searches on Google just to find out what these terms meant. And now we use these terms as if they are truly meaningful. Well no more! It’s time to add a 12th internet marketing skill…

From now on we are going to use only the metrics that we can tie directly to revenue and profitably. I know that’s boring when compared with exciting things like “engagement”, believe me I know, I love it when you talk that way. However, times being what they are we must consider the more practical aspect of dollars actually going into our pocket.

Here are the Ratios and Metrics I’m going to watch from now on.

Clicks to Phone Calls Ratio. This measures your sites ability to get people who are interested in your service to call for an appointment or request a free estimate or some thing like that. Whatever the equivalent is in your company you know.

For service businesses, your website’s main job, perhaps its only job is to generate phone calls. Yet, I bet very few people are actually measuring this right now. This will helps us measure the effectiveness of our most basic internet marketing skills, keyword analysis, copywriting and website design.

% Calls Booked- This measures your ability to convert phone calls into appointments or estimates.

As a former Yellow Page rep I can remember telling clients over and over again, “All we can do is make your phone ring.” But now as part of the service we provide, we listen to our clients web calls and provide feedback.

This metric is far easier to take action on then avg time on site or the others to which we typically pay attention and the opportunity is tremendous, really. To fully comprehend the power of this metric, imagine raising booking % from 40% to 60 %. This is not a 20% increase… it is a full 50% increase in the amount of leads your generating and you didn’t need to spend anymore on advertising to generate it!

Closing % – this measures your company’s ability to turn leads into customers

Because of this metric’s proximity to actually collecting money it is already pretty well regarded by most; but I would venture there is still some room for improvement.

Avg Sale $ – What is the average sale?

Don’t leave home without this one and definitely don’t talk to any advertising people without knowing it.

Profit Margin%- the percent of each sale that goes into your pocket.

I think of this number as the dollars that make it into your pocket on your last sale— expressed as a percentage.

Focusing on and improving these stats can help you stretch your advertising dollar and bring in more sales. Which is why we pay attention to analytics in the first place. Imagine logging into your analytics package and seeing the number of unique phone calls you generated expressed as a percentage of unique visitors. Next you see the % of these calls that were booked and finally how many turned into customers and how much was spent. I see this as being the default analytics package of the near future for local service businesses. The tools are actually available for this right now, it’s just a matter of putting them together.

*Here’s a little secret: If you get the numbers for your company for each of the 5 metrics above and multiply them, it will give you the single most important number in your entire internet marketing campaign… more on that next time.

Posted in Analytics, Google Maps | 7 Comments