A Lesson In Social Media From Benjamin Franklin – A Little President’s Day Fun

Yes, I know Benjamin Franklin was not a President but I do believe he is as responsible for the way in which we are governed as any one man. And though Thomas Jefferson was an awesome writer… I don’t think he would have made the front page of Digg, nearly as much as Old Ben.
Take this letter; which Benjamin Franklin wrote following the repeal of the Stamp Act, when the British were insisting that the colonies help pay the printing costs of the now worthless stamps.

The whole proceeding would put one in mind of the Frenchman that used to accost English and other strangers on the Pont-Neuf (a pedestrian bridge in Paris), with many compliments and a red hot iron in his hand; Pray Monsieur Anglois, says he, Do me the favour to let me have the honour of thrusting this hot iron into your backside? Zoons, what does the fellow mean! Begone with your Iron or I’ll break your head! Nay Monsieur, replies he, If you do not choose it, I do not insist upon it. But at least, you will in justice have the goodness to pay me something for the heating of my iron.

Quoted from: Benjamin Franklin, self-revealed;: A biographical and critical study based mainly on his own writings,

Other suggested reading:
The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (Which I’ve read…)
Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School ( Which I intend to read soon…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Local Search Keyword Analysis

Armed with an index finger, pencil and an analytics package (other than google’s), I set out to see what I could I learn about those folks searching for local service businesses by looking at what they typed in. Here is what I found. (I included a scanned page of the “notes” so you could appreciate the “scientificness” of this study. I also find it useful to examine 2 campaigns separately, so that differences can be observed, as well as averages.)


I studied the campaigns of 2 different businesses and business types in different states. Both are service businesses with average customer worths in the $thousands.

Local Search Campaign NY

  1. Out of the 529 queries tracked, 253 contained a geographic indicator.
  2. 176 typed the business type first and then the geography; i.e. widget maker timbuktu
  3. 60 typed the geographic indicator first, followed by the business type; i.e. timbuktu widget maker
  4. Of the 127 queries where the searcher used the name of the county, 91 omitted the word -county- and 36 included it; i.e widgets orange vs. widgets orange county.
  5. 108 included the state as part of the query.
  6. Of those 21 typed out the state and 87 used the 2 letter abbreviation.
  7. 116 typed only the name of the city or county without including the state.
  8. 2 used a zip code
  9. 27 queries included the word -in-
  10. 40 were navigational queries for competing firms.

Local Search Campaign NJ

  1. Out of the 298 queries tracked, 177 contained a geographic indicator.
  2. 105 typed the business type first and then the geography; i.e. widget maker timbuktu
  3. 36 typed the geographic indicator first, followed by the business type; i.e. timbuktu widget maker
  4. Of the 107 queries where the searcher used the name of the county, 2 omitted the word -county- and 105 included it; i.e widgets orange vs. widgets orange county.
  5. 85 included the state as part of the query.
  6. Of those 15 typed out the state and 71 used the 2 letter abbreviation.
  7. 86 typed only the name of the city or county without including the state.
  8. 4 used a zip code
  9. 47 used the word -in-
  10. 17 were navigational queries for competing firms. 42 were navigational queries for this business and these seemed to accelerate as the year went on.


  1. I believe queries that include a geographic indicator are more likely to convert into sales for local businesses so I begin there. And I would not pay someone for “clicks” unless the report somewhat resembled this. For instance, if you get your click report and you see that only 25 out of 2000 queries include geography and you’re a local service business… run for the hills.
  2. People are more likely to use the sequence: “business type + geo” than “geo + business type”; about 75% -25%
  3. (answered in 2)
  4. Whether a “county searcher” includes the word -county- or not can vary wildly from place to place. Here is an example where an average would be of little use. In the NJ campaign, nearly every searcher included the word and in the NY campaign, the majority omitted it. The conclusion is to test for each county in which you advertise.
  5. About half the queries that include a geographic indicator, include the state. This occurred in both campaigns.
  6. Most people use the two letter state abbreviation (>80%). At least in New York and New Jersey they do.
  7. (concluded in 5,6)
  8. Zip Codes are nearly worthless.
  9. The word -in- is fairly common in queries that include a geo indicator, as in ‘widgets in Timbuktu.’ More than 10% in geo-queries in the NY campaign and 25% of geo queries in the NJ campaign included the word.
  10. Re-read #10 in both campaigns above: If you don’t have a website that can be found by searchers that are looking for you, you are losing a ton of business.
Posted in Local Search | 28 Comments

Another Reason For Local Businesses To Get Social… Stumbleupon Stars On Google Maps

If you’re a small business with very good content, the kind that those who hang out in social media sites would like, I would suggest submitting that content to stumbleupon. Because when these folks finally turn off their computer (it could take awhile) they will shop in their local area and I bet an awful lot of them will use Google to do it. And boy will you stand out with a Stumbler in this sea of 10.


This is an Actual Screen shot pulled from Google during a search for plumbers in Dallas

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

My Dirty Little Secret – “I have a small analytic”

I recently read an article by Dr Pete discussing conversion rates and one of the points he made was that nobody seems to share theirs. Hmmmm… could that be because we are all insecure about our conversion rate. Maybe… no one seems to be able to answer the question: What is a good conversion rate? And few things lead faster to insecurity than ignorance. Will publishing one’s conversion rate lead to the spontaneous purchase of a sports car with a very large engine as other shortcomings have.

I don’t know about that; but I’m up for a game of… I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours… I’ll start.

The 2 metrics I am most interested in are: the overall conversion rate (those who contacted the business) and the % of visitors who ended up at the contact page from other pages on the site (the path).

So, here I am exposed: (the website belongs to a small house painting company, it’s real)

google analytics number of visitorsAnalytics showing the number of visitors

Just About 4.5% of the uniques contacted the business.

Analytics Funnel Interior Painting

Analytics Funnel Exterior

Analytics Funnel Powerwashing

Now, it’s your turn… please show me yours. Please use the comments below and tell me about the conversion rate of your best site… and maybe a tip about how you did it.

Now, I’m not sure if this is really a “small analytic” or not; but I do think it can do better. So, I’m going to split test it using the Google Optimizer.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about the test I set-up and from to time to time provide progress reports. And remember this is all about getting this dirty little secret out of the closet, so please comment and share as little or as much as you like… thanks!

For more about conversion myths.

Posted in Analytics | 5 Comments

Interview With Local Search Guru: Mike The Internet Guy… He’s Ba-aaack!

Mike the internet guy logoMike Belasco’s – Mike The Internet Guy Blog, has always been one of my favorites in the local space. It is certainly one that I subscribe too… but in the last couple of months it was the same 3 posts each time I logged on… until last week.

It came back to life… a new article flashed up on the center of my iGoogle home page… Mike announced his return! Curious and seeing an opportunity to learn, I reached out to Mike for an interview.

It was Super Bowl weekend and I knew from Mike’s post how busy he was… so I proposed an email interview.

We went back and forth a few times and if it is possible for a person to be “approachable” by email, Mike is… and in the true spirit of the SEO multi-tasker, Mike had the answers back to me within an hour of Brady’s 4th and 20 Hail Mary!

For those who don’t know Mike; he runs a successful local SEO company in Denver.

Mike, you were on hiatus for a few months; was that because you were busy putting together seOverflow or depressed after the Rockies loss in the World Series?

Tim, it was a little of both plus some well deserved vacation time, and a whole lot of work! I am actually a bigger Astros fan than Rockies fan, but it would have been nice to see the Rockies win it all (I have been a Colorado resident since 1996).

Could you tell us a little about seOverflow and how it’s different from what you were doing before as “Mike the Internet Guy”?

seOverflow was established to better target my best customers and referral sources: web designers, marketing consultants, and other SEOseOverflow Logo companies. The company has a little more professional and “bigger” image that I think will help the business grow even larger. We are doing the same great SEO/PPC with the same great people, but now have a new image to grow with us.

Could you expand a little on what seOverflow does for other SEO firms, what is its Unique Selling Proposition?

As for us working with other SEO firms, we can be the “go to” overflow company for many different types of SEO/PPC firms. We have several companies right now that refer business to us whether that be a straight referral or just a case of offloading some work that has been overbooked. The unique selling proposition is that we provide very high quality work for very reasonable prices and don’t off load the work to low quality staff overseas. We care for other companies clients just like our own.

Hmmmm… good to know that service exists. You mentioned on your recent post that your goal was to get back to being the best blog in the local space, Could you give us a little preview of what to expect?

Well my goal is to blog once/twice a week on seOverflow blog (custom theme coming soon) and the Mike The Internet Guy Blog. I am presently making an editorial calendar of posts I want to get to and then I will also cover more recent news and discoveries I make along the way.

I look forward to some good reading, before we wrap up, how about a tip? What are a couple of things you would do if you were a local roofing or painting contractor who just got their first web site and are looking to get new customers from the web?

Tim, thats a good question and I would hate to give you one of those “it depends” answers so I’ll just speak from my experience working with new small businesses. Typically these business got some type of “out of the box” website and have virtually no budget to spend on search marketing. Their websites are typically very hard to work with as they are either hosted in some type of CMS or contain way too much text inside images. So what I would recommend to a business person in this situation is to sign up with a service that will get your name, address etc out to as many of the IYP and review sites as possible. I would then recommend developing a program whereby customers are encouraged to leave feedback and comments on these sites. A small PPC campaign could also be a good bet if managed correctly. I would then recommend taking the profits and investing in a very nice website and SEO. Again though it totally depends on the situation however including the size of the are the company is geo-targeting, the competitiveness of their services etc.

Good advice… thanks Mike

Tim, thanks again for the interview. I appreciate the opportunity. I am also looking forward to reading your blog on a more regular basis as well. I checked out some of your articles and you have got some real juicy stuff in the archives. Keep up the good work!

Visit seOverlflow’s About Us page to learn more about Mike and get a quick introduction to his Local Seo Team.

Posted in Interviews | 3 Comments

New To Local Search? Save Yourself A Year

Rather than right down my New Year’s Resolution, I decided to resolve it. Sure, it’s a month late but I bet most resolutions have been discarded by this time, so maybe I’m ahead of the game after all. Anyway, the resolution? Oh, yes… to update my blogroll. I have tried to include those blogs that have provided me the most help and inspiration over the past year as I’ve been pouring through material on local internet marketing.

This is the list I wish I had a year ago. If you are a small business or someone just starting out learning about marketing a small business on the web, save yourself a year and bookmark/subscribe each one. You can thank me later.

Of course, most of the links represent the ‘Best in Local’; but others are great blogs on those subjects which one is going to have to become familiar if they want to really learn search marketing. I’ll let you discover those for yourself.

Posted in Local Search | 5 Comments

Geotargeting Adwords For Local Business: Buyer Beware

I recently read a well-written article by Search Engine Guide, which outlined the ways one can use the geo-targeting features of Google Adwords. My problem with this article and the other ones on the subject that I have read lately, is that they are now written without the caveats that typically accompanied them a year ago. Most articles written on the subject a year ago… warned: the system is not perfect. I would go further and say… the narrower the region being targeted the more flawed the geo-targeting. Consider this search for Newark NJ in Google Trends:

Newark Search In Google Trends

These results would not give me the warm & fuzzies if I were running a campaign that was geo-targeting Newark.

This is important because the purpose of Geo-targeting is to put your ad in front of a person who is using a generic search query that has local intent. For Example, “Dentist” as opposed to “Dentist Newark NJ.” Studies have shown that half of local queries are entered without the geographic indicator. And Geo-targeting should give you a leg up in trying to capture these sales. The above Google Trends report argues otherwise.

If the IP addresses of searchers shopping online in Newark are in Oakland, NJ and Clifton, NJ; advertisers’ results are going to be adversely effected. Such campaigns would be plagued by low CTRs and/or wasted spend.

Take-Aways for when you’re targeting a small geographic region with adwords (City, County, a few towns etc.):

  • Don’t rely on Geo-targeting. Use keywords that include the geography you’re targeting as well.
  • Put Geo-targeted ads in a separate ad group, so that there lower CTRs don’t effect your higher performing ads.
  • KNOW the addresses of the local Cable/DSL provider in the area where you are going to Geo-target. Many of the cities listed above in the Google Trends report are those where Cablevision is located; or in the case of Madison, NJ… where the IP originates for Verizon DSL customers. My IP is located in Madison, despite me being some 30-40 miles away from there. And Oakland is a small town about 50 miles to the north of Newark; but the IPs of many Cablevision customers originate from that town. The results of a local campaign could change dramatically by just adding or subtracting one of these important but sometimes very small towns.
  • TEST!

Some Assumptions I Made Interpreting This Data:

1)People who most frequently use ‘Newark NJ’ as a search term, do so because
they live in or around Newark. 2) And that group would be representative of those who are shopping locally but use the generic search term.
Because we are studying this from the “reverse angle.” Google trends is showing us the location of the IP address for those who type Newark. Geo-targeting in Adwords would return results based on the IP address of a shopper who did not type in Newark. 3) Google uses the same IP tracking in Google Trends as it does in its Adwords system.

I believe those assumptions are true based on the results I’ve seen personally in the geo-targeted advertising that I’ve done, though admittedly a small sample. But the more relevant cities I saw in Google trends for the applicable geography, the higher the CTR of the advertising…. again very very small sample.

For those who are running “tight local campaigns” could you do me a favor? Please use Google Trends and search for a town or 2 in your area
and let us know if you find anything that would make you agree or disagree with what I’ve asserted in this article. Thanks!

Good Additional Reading on Geotargeting:

Geotargeting Adwords by The Merjis Blog

Geotargeting: Core To Local by Chris Silver Smith

Posted in PPC | 3 Comments

5 Ideas To Raise The ROI OF Local’s Most Expensive Campaigns

Spyfu LogoIf there is any doubt about the value in local, one needs only to saunter over to Spyfu, where the list of 1000 most expensive keywords (opens in new window) can be found. And take note that out of the top 200 almost 80 have a geographic indicator… including the top 2.

This got me thinking that many advertisers have thrown ROI out the window and are simply looking for the largest volume of business. I have no problem with this as it is easier to take dollars to the bank than fancy percentages, but it got me thinking… if I were managing one of these campaigns, could I find other outlets that when aggregated could bring down the average cost of customer acquisition and raise the overall ROI of the campaign, while still providing enough dollars to justify the time expenditure?

So, I put on my thinking cap and tried to come up with 5 local sites on which to advertise where I might do better than $50/click but still get quality, if not the volume. I am not suggesting these portals are better but are worth testing in hopes of getting enough volume to raise the ROI of the Campaign.

1. Free 411 – The jingle network claims Free 411 Logoto serve over 20 million calls per month, which is the rough equivalent of the uniques garnered by the largest IYPs each month. When someone needs information, they don’t have to pay for the call, but an ad is played. And the caller is given a choice as to whom they would like to be connected, the desired number or the advertiser by selecting the star or pound key. A lawyer is around $20 for a phone call. And let’s face it… the choice selected by someone just arrested for DUI in Dallas’ is truly 50-50.

2. Superpages.com- This IYP has a program they call Exact Match (warning: pdf). Exact match is a program that reserves the #1 spot in any given category for a business with a physical location in the exact geography searched with a minimum bid of $2.50. This could result in lower prices on high quality clicks as you are only competing against those businesses with a physical address in that city. These ads are distributed at to msn local, switchboard, citysearch et al.

3. Craigslist – Free Clicks Vs. Large Time Expenditures… nothing is free.

In some of the less competitive service categories the listing can hang for up to a week. But best results are achieved with continuous deleting and re-uploading of your listing for top placement; hence the time factor.

4. Local.com In May, Loren Baker of Search Engine Journal reported that Local.com has a new program called local verified. Which allows an advertiser top placement for $249/year. If this is really the price, of which I’m skeptical, some steals may be available. For Example, Mortgages in Manhattan is wide open. Christian Nielsen reports that he was solicited for the service and was told the price was $749. Even at this price it could still be a bargain if they delivered even decent click volume for a high priced term.

This listing may come with a little bonus too. As I found the link counting in Google Maps for one of the “local verified listings”. This could make sense since this placement is only granted after it is hand-edited. Loren reports, that the business has to be in good standing with the BBB.
Local.com link showing in Google Maps

Hmmmph! – I could only come up with 4. How about you? Any gems you care to share. And misspellings and brand name keywords don’t count since the likes of ‘remorgages’ and ‘Gyco’ are both coming in at a pricey $40/click.

Posted in Local Search | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Local Search – The Business Model (Beware: Long Post)

When I look back at 2007 I will probably regard it as one of my favorite years. I love to learn and in 2007 I learned HTML, CSS, SEO, SEM a little Photoshop and enoughLocal Search For Morons javascript and php to understand what it does and grab some free code when I need it.

I spent on average 4-8 hours/day learning this stuff and have used this to put together a couple of search marketing campaigns that have exceeded my own expectations in terms of ROI, so I have tremendous belief in what I’m doing.

I came into the year proficient in local advertising having spent 12 years in this industry. I understand the products that are now being presented to local businesses, having helped put together quite a bit of the material in the presentations.

The objective of all this was to decide 3 things:

  • Is there a viable business model for a local seo/sem boutique? And is it lucrative enough for me to leave the security of what I have?
  • If so, what would that business model look like?
  • And should I do it on my own or join/partner with an established firm?

At this point I believe there is a business model that is lucrative and at the same time can provide outstanding value for local businesses. This post details that. It’s long enough that it probably should be done as a white paper, but I hate down-loading and printing those. So, think of this as a white paper that does not need to be clicked-through-to, downloaded or printed.

Local Search – The Business Model

Sales & Marketing

The biggest problem at the point of sale with a local business will be the perception of risk. There is almost nothing that can be guaranteed, that shifts all the risk onto the business owner (though you could argue, doing nothing is a bigger risk). To overcome this, I would bill monthly and have no contracts… (other than… no money everything reverts) now I take the risk. But I am so confident in my ability to provide an ROI over and above what they could get elsewhere, that it’s a risk I am willing to take.

Content Development

The 3 essentials of content development as it relates to the site’s ability to convert in the local space are: Web Design, Layout (usability) and Copywriting. I believe that if a local site gets these things right it can produce conversion rates that are 5 or 10 times the rates of their competitors. Understanding what drives conversions and continual split-testing should produce results like this in time on a consistent basis. It also more than justifies the continued monthly billing past the initial set-up phase.

Not being a website designer and learning that knowing HTML & CSS and calling yourself a web designer is like knowing some musical notes and calling yourself a musician. I have been experimenting with templates that allow me to leverage the talent of some wonderful developers, while including what I know about usability and copy. It could end up being a powerful and low-cost solution; but I am really at the beginning stages of this. I have come to believe good website designers are worth their weight in Gold. This is something I am not sure I fully understood a year ago. The same goes for good copywriters.

SEM (pay per click marketing)

The 2 keys to success in SEM are to know what sites to target and than fully understandComscore Report Local Search Share
how to get the most of out them. The study to the right clearly outlines the sites that should be targeted. By targeting just the top 5 or 6 I can reach nearly 9 out of 10 online shoppers.

Once the sites have been identified, my goal is to get the ad to the highest position for the lowest click price with good copy writing and continual split testing. In many but not all ‘local circles’ I think this will be fairly easy to do because of the lack of competition. However, that’s
changing everyday. I recently deleted an ad with a 13% CTR because it was an ‘underperformer’, I am not sure how far into the future things like that will continue.

Local Seo (on-page)

Local SEO is mostly regular SEO with a longer tail and some specialty knowledge added in terms of maps and IYPs. The fact that it has a longer tail makes it simpler to rank for any given query. The challenge lies in the fact that a business owner may serve hundreds of locations.

I have wrestled with this challenge for most of the year and have only recently begun to really understand how to resolve it in a way to maximize a site’s search optimization and its ability to convert.

What finally opened this up for me and got me thinking in the right direction was a post written
by local seo guide Andrew Shotman as he was doing an analysis of Seomoz’s work on Yelp. The conclusion: separate pages for the most significant geographic locations.

This will allow me to leverage the title tag to rank for the given query, but more importantly, to get clicked on and most importantly, given what I know about the factors that drive actual phone calls to a local business, get the most conversions. This set-up should create a genuine symmetry between seo and conversion.

The challenge will then be to keep the pages indexed. The burden for keeping the pages indexed will fall on content development (the pages need to be useful), good internal/external linking and ye olde sitemap. All this while maintaining the home page’s credibility (with all those links), which will ultimately need to be solved with good website design.

I am of the theory that a small number of geographies will be responsible for a great amount of traffic. So, this needn’t be as daunting as it initially sounds . This too should continue to provide enough value to the advertiser to more than justify the monthly payment as results continually improve.

Thanks Andrew for unlocking that door for me. Testing is required of course… but at least I have the foundation on which to build.


This is probably the single biggest challenge in the local space. The advice I read most frequently is that one should do a link analysis on competing sites in order to find good links. Doing this is in the local space most often reveals a sea of spammy links to websites that exist for the sole purpose of linking. I think Google will sniff these out in the future and they will become worthless. Thus my link building strategy for local sites will involve 3 steps:

1) Links to local search sites… the IYPs. Although, they don’t provide link juice. I believe they are a signal to Google of legitimacy and location. I also believe it is the link on the business profile, (not the link at the listing level) that is most important. Many IYPs don’t allow the site to be spidered but they do allow the business profiles to be spidered by search engines.

2)Links that a business owner would be proud to display on the home page. Membership to local chambers, organizations, BBB etc.. The theory would be that if the link would help convert a human, Google would consider it a legitimate vote for the business. These will be the most valued links because they can help you rank and offline studies have shown that such affiliations can help conversion. Again, setting up a nice symmetry between SEO & conversion.

3)Make a genuine contribution to the online community and leverage social media to get the message out. If the content is good, the links should develop naturally. More on this below.

Blog/Social Media

A small business owner with a blog attached to their domain and making a genuine contribution to their community would need to do little else to rank. The small business owners tend to be experts in their field and as such are in a position to really enhance the quality of information found on the web. It could be in the form of how-to articles, or funny what- not- to- do articles or tips from businesses such as lawyers, accountants etc.. The small businesses that I see that legitimately blog are also ranked high on the first page of Google for their important keywords.

Here again this algorithm makes sense from the human perspective as well. A small business owner that takes the time to join their community online and exchange knowledge and information thoughtfully is in a pretty short time going to get better at what they do professionally. It’s almost unavoidable. So in Google’s quest to provide the most relevant response for any given query, returning these businesses’ makes real sense. I think this is the best long-term strategy and will provide the most value to the business and the web at large.

Again, I need to test this to state it factually, but I believe that a business owner using these strategies and developing good content should put them so far ahead of their competition that ranking for their geo/keyword combination should become almost matter-of-fact.

The key to getting this done will be to resolve the ‘how much time will this take’ issue for the firm and the business owner… I need to find a way to have the content developed while tapping into the natural expertise of the business owner but using as little of her time as possible (and mine). I have some ideas on this how to get this done but nothing in stone yet…
but if done effectively, it may lead to a site ranking in the natural results beyond it’s geographic service area which could lead to…

Affiliate marketing

I have a lot to learn in this arena but I do see an opportunity for small business with their unique ability to build certain types of links, their inherent credibility and the real value they could provide searchers in terms of information to rank for keywords nationally. Rather than waste that traffic from geographies outside their service area, I believe there will be opportunities to use affiliate marketing/Adsense to set up additional revenue streams to be shared by the local seo firm and the advertiser.

Review Strategy

A simple step-by-step process for getting customers to review the business on-line will be an integral part of optimizing for local search sites as well getting the most conversions. Here, again I find symmetry between SEO and conversions.


I’m not sure if video is a necessary part of the business model for local yet, but it may be in time and certainly provides an opportunity for improved content on the website as it affords the business owner the opportunity to ‘introduce’ herself to her potential clients and thus should improve conversions. Getting the video to rank in the engines would be a nice bonus. This would probably not be part of any initial ‘package’ but would rather be an add-on later on just because I would enjoy learning more about it.

The Market

So much of this is theory right now, but what fun it will be to learn the parts of these strategies that prove to be most effective. And what value can be brought to the advertisers!

I know that there is $10s of million being spent on local advertising just in the county in which I live. If I expanded that to a radius of a one hour drive from where I live. I would guess that number goes up 5-fold. So, I’m confident the market is there.

Here is an estimate of cash flows in the first 5 years broken down by month if I am able to sign up 3 new advertisers per month, while charging an insanely low $200/mo.. (The advertiser would be required to pay for clicks charges, a pricing model that bundles the 2 is being considered)

My Final Question

So, now the question remains for me… Do I go on my own or join an existing firm or even partner with an seo/designer?

If you have any advice or are aware of some great opportunity, please let me know. You can comment below or contact me directly through the form on the ‘about’ page.

Posted in Local Search | 8 Comments

YP Contemplating Suicide by SEO.

As often as ‘Content is King’ is written by some it is disregarded by others and if the yellow pages industry doesn’t understand that… it WILL be the end of the medium. Let me explain.

Anyone who has worked in yellow pages or local search knows that the market is fragmented. Consumers have lots of choices when it comes to getting information about local businesses.  Not so long ago this wasn’t true,  the telephone company owned local.

What changed?

If you answered the Internet, you’re wrong. The Internet was just the medium.

The cause was a change to the law in the late nineties that forced telephone companies to sell their listing information for a reasonable price and within a reasonable time frame. That’s it. The information they owned was simply the name, address and phone number of every business.

That information was so valuable that it allowed the yellow pages to grow into a $15 Billion dollar a year business with margins that are still awesome. And maintain that for a hundred years with virtually no competition. That’s how valuable exclusive access to good content is.

Since, the law was passed, however, that information has become a commodity and the local advertising market has become fragmented.

The yellow pages are still a very powerful advertising medium because they have spent the last hundred years developing relationships with local business owners and turning that listing information into real content that consumers can use to make purchase decisions. And now the yellow page companies are considering taking all of that valuable information and handing it over to Google for free.

In fact, they are probably going to hire and train people to deliver it to Google on a silver platter in the form of search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization is the process of arranging the content of a website in a way that a spider or bot crawling the web can read the information and determine what the page is about algorithmically. The hope for the optimizer would be that the search engine would find the page, index it, and rank it on the first page when certain keywords are typed in.

They will do this in hope of adding another revenue source at a time when overall revenues are declining and stock prices are plummeting. But it’s shortsighted because it can never scale for them.

They may have as many as a hundred advertisers in a given category but Google only has 10 listings on the first page. So, they may be able to sell this service successfully to a small percentage of advertisers, but at the same time they will be making Google’s content better. And perhaps so much better that there is no longer any reason to use the yellow pages. So, they would the lose the majority of their advertisers.

The yellow pages has to remember now… more than ever… that content is King.

Posted in Local Search | 27 Comments