4.5 years ago I met a girl, 2 years ago I graduated college, 1 year ago I started my first job in advertising, 8 months ago I got engaged, 2 weeks ago I accepted a job offer with a company in Los Angeles, 1 week from now I am moving and 2 months from now I will be married.
This fairly linear chain of events is my life over the last half decade and I am excited and optimistic for the future. My (almost) wife and I will be starting married life with a clean slate - new city, new job, new school, new furniture and new [fill in the blank]. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a life for ourselves that is exactly what we want it to be.
On June 6th, I will be starting work with Campbell-Ewald on the Kaiser Permanente account. I cannot wait to begin work on a nationally recognized brand with an agency as creative as c-e. This is my chance to join the big leagues and make a career for myself. I hope you continue reading this blog because I promise to share new knowledge and experiences as I learn.
Goodbye San Diego and Hello Los Angeles.
This weekend I spent some time diving into an SEO project for a friend’s new boutique here in San Diego and it reminded me how valuable good SEO can be to a local business. Generally SEO is expensive, time consuming and technical, so it is often avoided or ignored by small business owners because they already have enough to deal with just running the day-to-day operations. However, few understand that with even just a basic SEO campaign they can see results and generate quality leads.
In this post I wanted to provide 3 reasons why local businesses should invest some time and a little bit of money into SEO efforts.
1.) Local Search
Local search success is attainable and useful because it is full of high-traffic, quality search terms. Local search terms are generally made up of your business name/category combined with your city/location. A great example of a local longtail search term is “Bowling Alley in San Diego”.
Why are these keywords so valuable to SEO? These search queries allow an SEO technician to take a general term like “Bowling Alley”, which is extremely competitive and hard to rank for and focus it to a much more attainable term like “Bowling Alley in San Diego”. Now you are only competing for rankings against Bowling Alleys in your area and not Bowling Alleys around the world.
Often times simply with solid on-site keyword optimizations and basic link building a relevant website can rank for localized search terms.
2.) Local Traffic/Leads
Once you have begun ranking for your local search terms the quality of traffic to your website will begin to increase. All traffic is not equal (Unfortunately…). As marketers we want to make sure and capture as many visitors as possible that are looking for what we sell.
In the “Bowling Alley” example, traffic from “Bowling Alley in San Diego” would be extremely attractive to a business like East Village Tavern and Bowl, which is in the heart of downtown San Diego because they can reasonably assume that visitors to their website would be looking for exactly what they offer, bowling in San Diego!
3.) Google Places
Google loves local search and has made it as easy as possible for searchers to find local businesses through Google Places. Google Places are the Google map listings that pop-up when you are looking for a restaurant or place to get your hair cut. These listings can be claimed by the owner of the business and optimized with their keywords. This will give you two opportunities to rank for each of your primary keywords.
Here is a screenshot of the business listings for “Bowling Alley in San Diego”:
I hope this post helps shed some light on why SEO is important for local businesses. Do you have any additional suggestions for why a local business owner would want to engage in SEO?
We not only live in a world of faster, we live in a world of more.
- Marty Neumeier
Technology has been the catalyst for the above statement. Neumeier accurately depicts the 21st century consumer; we are obsessed with free, perfect and now. This obsession has been fueled by the rapid progression of technology and innovation in our society. Our quick-paced society and the ease of communication has created a clutter filled world of feature-rich and heavily advertised products and businesses.
We need to remember that Less is More.
As advertisers we need to help our clients focus their message and present it in a way that is simple, engaging and inspiring.
Here are a few examples of brands who stand above the clutter because of their focus.
1.) Small Menu - In-N-Out Burger
In-N-Out burger has the simplest menu of any major fast-food chain on the West Coast. Burger, French Fries and a drink. Everything that you would want from a burger joint without the fancy names or abundance of toppings.
In-N-Out knows exactly who they are and therefore so do their customers. A consumer knows when heading to In-N-Out they can expect a perfectly cooked burger, at a reasonable price, in a short period of time.
2.) One Button - Apple
One glorious button. Steve Jobs was the king of simple. Apple’s obsession with one button on their devices began with the original mouse and has advanced into the iPhone and iPad.
The iDevices are so simple to use and understand. For example, my fifty year old mother that has a hard time using the DVD player was able to find a restaurant, make a reservation and pull up directions the first time she ever touched an iPhone without any directions or advice. It was quite a marvel to watch.
3.) One Action - Google
Google, the king of search, also provides the simplest homepage of all search engines. Have you ever looked at Yahoo!’s homepage? It is a cluttered mess (no wonder they are losing market share).
Google has largely expanded their businesses offerings, but they have never lost sight of their bread and butter. Simple and effective search. Their homepage has maintained the white space and simplicity. There is no mistaking what service they provide.
Take a look around you and explore other brands. Whose offerings are focused and whose are cluttered?
This week I started reading the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book, Gladwell presents a large number of scenarios that highlight the existence of a tipping point.
His first example of a tipping point is a story about how Hush Puppies became popular. In the early 1990’s Hush Puppies sold as few as 30,000 pairs of shoes in one year. However by 1995 they had sold over 300,000. What made this happen? Well, the Hush Puppies craze was started by a handful of trendy young adults in New York’s SOHO area. These young adults began buying Hush Puppies at thrift stores and mom and pop shops. There fashion sense was soon discovered by several A-list designers and within two years Hush Puppies went from an underground fashion trend to the mainstream.
Gladwell describes this as “The Tipping Point”. It only took a small number of individuals to create large-scale change. There was a tipping point where Hush Puppies moved from an outdated form of footwear to the hottest new fashion trend.
Gladwell positions the tipping point as something that can be studied and potentially replicated for financial gain. However, the ability to successfully discover or create a tipping point seems similar to the production of a viral online video. Both scenarios are usually organic situations that happen to be presented to the proper audience.
Have you ever spent an afternoon trying to create a funny video? I have and it has not been very successful…surprise. My fiance often nannies and I am constantly trying to have her catch the children on film doing something funny or adorable. Maybe I should buy a cat and go that route instead…
Despite my failure I am sure you see my point. Viral videos are incredibly difficult to manufacture, just like finding a tipping point before it happens is almost like playing darts blindfolded.
As I continue reading Gladwell’s book I am curious to see how he proposes marketers harness the power of a tipping point.
Putting aside my skepticism for a moment. The idea of a tipping point is fascinating and Gladwell presents a very strong case in his book.
Do you have a viral video or tipping point story to share?
If you work in advertising I am sure you are familiar with the above chart. I was introduced to the graph of the display advertising ecosystem several weeks ago and then today I came across a blog post from Mike Nolet of AppNexus, which illuminated how this ecosystem came to be.
In 2007 the display advertising arena was much simpler. There were publishers and advertisers and a handful of connections between them. However, since then we have seen the rise of DSPs, SSPs, Ad Exchanges and more. After reading Nolet’s explanation of the proliferation of new media companies I realized that this phenomenon could be explained by a simple law of branding.
The easiest way to become a category market leader is to create a new category.
This is exactly what the hundreds of startups have done. Venture Capitalists and entrepreneurs have eagerly created new technologies and nomenclatures, which have allowed them to separate their companies from traditional display advertisers such as DoubleClick.
Slowly the new categories will mature and consolidate, but I am sure we are not quite done with the rapid growth of this category. As Real Time Bidding (the latest fad) becomes the standard we will see the next set of technologies and new categories arise.
The question is how will future entrepreneurs capitalize on the increasing amount of advertising dollars being spent online. I would imagine that Social Media advertising will play a larger role in the display ad ecosystem as social networks continue to mature and more advertisers are looking to include social ads in their media campaigns.
I finished Tribes by Seth Godin this evening and I felt inspired throughout the whole book. Tribes is a manifesto to young, intelligent and technologically savvy people to take advantage of their opportunities and lead their Tribe(s). This hit home as I am searching for the Tribe that I can create or become a leader in.
A Tribe is defined as a community that shares a common interest or goal. Some tribes are small and some are large, some have a financial stake and some simply desire to communicate with one another. A tribe could be as large as a nation or as small as a network of local entrepreneurs.
Seth Godin is a powerful writer and he is a scholar of human interaction. The suggestions from Tribes are not “Self-Help” or “How to…”, but they are a not so subtle reminder that anyone can become a leader. It simply takes hard work and an idea that others will follow or share.
Being a young entrepreneur I am encouraged by the stories and motivations found in Tribes. I am constantly learning and scheming. I am hoping to to carve out my own place in this world.
This morning in the Union Tribune I read a story about identical twin brothers that grew up in San Diego, Ca and started an app game development company. Their game Tiny Tower was voted the 2011 iPhone Game of the Year by Apple. At the age of 28 these brothers are definitely leading their Tribe and they have achieved this without venture capital seed money, a large corporation behind them or even grant money. They simply had access to the Apple API, some software development classes and a good imagination.
Where will your Tribe be? I am hoping to find mine in the world of branding and digital marketing. I am excited for the future
Pinterest.com (if you have not heard) is a new social sharing platform, which allows users to post their favorite images to their “boards”. It is a powerful tool for self-expression and for community interaction.
Pinterest was shown to my by several co-workers, who love using the site to see the latest wedding trends and to explore what creative people are sharing. It is very easy to get lost in this site for hours.
As I was exploring the site I realized that every single pin (or posted image) has a do-follow link pointing back to the source URL for the image and potential for a second do-follow link in the description. At first I was caught off guard by this and was surprised that the new social sharing platform would allow do-follow links because of the potential for spamming. However, other sharing platforms such as Tumblr and StumbleUpon allow do-follow links and it does not seem to diminish the experience users have with the site.
Then, I became excited at the new link building prospect. If you are able to create or share content that others are likely to share then you will be gaining a backlink with every re-pin.
Here are some thoughts on who should leverage Pinterest backlinks.
1.) Those looking to build general backlinks to their site. More backlinks can never hurt.
2.) Keyword specific URLs. Pinterest URLs are not anchor text specific, so the value of a Pinterest backlink from an SEO perspective is much higher for a keyword specific URL.
3.) Local businesses that offer a service or product that lends itself to finding a community within Pinterest. Businesses such as hair salons or wedding photographers can create a pinterest that displays their work, but also is engaged with the broader category. This is a possibility to showcase their brand aesthetic, while driving traffic to their website and building backlinks.
Have you had a chance to explore Pinterest yet? Let me know your thoughts on leveraging Pinterest for SEO gain.