Local Search and Other Big Shifts

Three things we are paying attention to at Three Ships Media…

The Search-Driven Web

  • Local search is where the action is.  My WAG for companies with 20+ locations: 50% of the top 100 organic search terms have a location modifier.
  • Overall, traffic from web search, even for the most boring businesses, continues to grow at double digit rates.
  • Search engines, under attack from niche entrants (every dating site is a vertical search engine… every travel site is a vertical search engine… ) are trying to get more of users’ time online.  Google’s Places is an effort to host the critical information on a company’s website.
  • Just as Search engines used to offer free comparison shopping engines to retailers, but now charge for placement in them… businesses with brick & mortar locations may get “squeezed” by search giants if they don’t invest in building their own alternative location landing pages.

The Customer-Driven Web

  • If you have locations, I bet you $10 the #1 thing people have bookmarked (other than your homepage) is your location page.
  • A lot of this is driven by mobile.  Assessing 2012 mobile growth for clients = wow!  Wow, Wow, Wow.
  • Customers are getting even pickier.  The page must load fast.  It must resize to their tablet.  If the customer is on mobile, the website must know her location.

The Community-Driven Web

  • It doesn’t matter if you provide great service 97% of the time.  The 3% will post Yelp reviews.  Companies need to create incentives to get satisfied customers to join in the conversation too.
  • These social signals — Facebook posts, Yelp reviews — just get more and more important to search engines.
  • They set a tone for the entire business culturally.  Your employees read them, prospective hires read them, your customers read them… you cannot ignore them.

The web keeps converging… that makes neat and tidy attribution analysis impossibly hard, but you can embrace the messiness.  For practical people the roles of digital marketing are simple: (1) listen, observe, and understand the customer, (2) create really great communication to pull in the customer, (3) amplify that communication through highly relevant paid placements, (4) keep building community as you do so.