If you attend Search Marketing industry conferences, you’ve no doubt run into the ever optimistic and charming Mel Carson from Microsoft. When I was last in London, Mel connected me with an excellent Fish n Chips that the pubs around Trafalgar Square couldn’t get close to. Mel is active as an advocate of Microsoft Advertising , especially via social media channels and at conferences to the Webmaster and search marketing community. His work is global and very interesting. With the Bing and Yahoo convergence, I thought it was time we did an interview – and he agreed.
There are currently 29.6 million small businesses in the U.S. (SCORE). 63% of consumers and small business owners use the Internet to find information about local companies and 82% use search engines (Webvisible & Nielsen). That means there’s a lot of opportunity for local SEO.
Recently I attended GetListed.org’s Local University in Minneapolis which focused on how to optimize web sites for local search. Out of all the good information that came out of the event, here are 10 easy things you can do today to optimize sites and content to attract local customers.
1. Claim your profile.
It’s as simple as logging into Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local and walking through the verification steps which include a phone call or post card to verify your address.
To know what the world is searching for must be amazing. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are in that position but they’re not exactly sharing those insights. Well, except if you do a little guess work and leverage their keyword research or keyword suggest tools. For example, the suggest-as-you-type features that all the major search engines now offer can provide some interesting insight “on the fly” into what people are searching for.
For quick keyword research, Aaron Wall has a Google Suggest tool for keyword suggestions that adds more options and insight.
There’s some entertainment value to this as well. Start typing in “my girlfriend” or “my boyfriend” and you’ll see what I mean. Along those lines, let’s see some examples for each major search engine using the syntax, “Google is “:
Did you realize that search engines have gone full circle on URLs in variables? It used to be considered something to avoid, now search engines are saying variables in URLs are good, as long as you use the canonical meta tag. Google is pushing them with FeedBurner and if webmasters aren’t careful, they could fall victim to a new onslaught of duplicate content issues.
One of the biggest issues with SEO is duplicate content. If search engines can’t tell which version of a document is the original or canonical version, then there can be consequences involving less than ideal search visibility. For example, the following URLs might all point to the same web page, creating the illusion that they are copies of the same thing. But in reality, it’s just one web page.
Amid all the speculation this week, it’s official that Microsoft and Yahoo! have made a deal: “Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.”
The Search Marketing Industry news sites have covered this completely and a joint web site has been setup my Microsoft Yahoo. I also took a little time to listen in on the investor relations conference call with Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Carol Bartz of Yahoo! and live tweeted some of the Q and A:
MSFT YAHOO conf call Q: Why no display ad component to the deal? Bartz: To keep the deal straightforward as possible
The Expo Hall at SMX West opened today. Take a peak.
Strolling the floor
Folks chatting with Google
Folks chatting with Live
Check out all of the photos at TopRank’s SMX West Flickr set.
The sponsored lunch today at Search Insider Summit comes from Microsoft adCenter which included a demo of their new Keyword Services Platform and add-in to Excel 2007.
Feedback from marketers is that traffic is good, but they want more of it. Marketers also want AdCenter to be easier to use.
Natala Menezes is up next and promptly announces Stacy was engaged last night!
Key points for current and future development of adCenter: Quality, Transparency and Simplicity.
What does this mean to keyword research, optimization and analysis? Access to real data, not just graphs including demographic and geographic information. It also means easy to use tools including keyword libraries and an adCenter add-in for Excel 2007 which focuses Keyword research, forecasting and monetization data.
Editor’s note: On occasion we reach out to people in the search marketing industry we’ve come to know and respect with a request to contribute. Today’s contribution comes from Microsoft’s adCenter Community Manager – Europe, Mel Carson. Mel’s job is to support, educate & evangelize through the adCenter Blog, industry forums, and to speak about adCenter at conferences such as SMX, SES, Pubcon and others. Mel writes his own blog at DigiTales & Other Stories.
This post tells a personal tale of getting involved with Microsoft at the beginning of adCenter’s deployment to the paid search marketing world along with some good examples of unique adCenter features and why Mel thinks it’s great working for Microsoft.
The buzz in the search marketing media and increasingly, the business press, on the importance of unified or universal search is gaining momentum and is unavoidable. Small and medium sized business web site owners and webmasters are now presented with the challenge of making sense out of the recent rash of search engine interface and functional improvements and how to adjust their online marketing efforts accordingly. Many are not sure what to do. Hopefully this short guide will shed light on the fundamentals and give some basic direction on next steps.
Earlier this year I participated in an online focus group where questions were asked about various webmaster and SEO tools. The session was run by a third party and I was able to get them to admit it was for Microsoft. Tonight, like many others that showed interest, I received an invite to register from Nathan Buggia, Sr. Product Manager of the Live Search Webmaster Tools Team.
Similar to Google’s Webmaster Tools (Vanessa Fox interview here) and Yahoo’s Site Explorer tools (Tim Mayer interview here), the services included in this Beta of Microsoft’s Windows Live Webmaster Portal appear to be split up into three categories:
- Site crawling
- Site Indexing
- Submission (upload, autodiscovery)
WebmasterRadio.FM and their sponsors did not disappoint with the right of passage for new SES San Jose attendees known as “Search Bash“. Hula hoops, Jersey Girls, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Sumo wrestling, go go girls and an open bar all night. Tell me that’s not a formula for an evening you’ll likely not remember but really wish you could!
And now for a few photos:
The good people at Ask.com pinged me this morning that Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft Live Search and Ask.com announced support of autodiscovery for Sitemaps today.
WebProNews published an announcement about the search engines Google and Yahoo agreeing to work on a common sitemaps standard and the launch of sitemaps.org at the WebmasterWorld Pubcon conference in Las Vegas last year.
The new open-format autodiscovery allows webmasters to specify the location of their sitemaps within their robots.txt file, eliminating the need to submit sitemaps to each search engine separately. The updated Sitemap protocol has benefits for site publishers, the search engines as well as searchers. Ask.com is also supporting manual submissions of sitemaps via a ping url.
Find more coverage on this over at Search Engine Land, “Search Engines Unite on Sitemaps“.