Jan 18 2011

Claim Your Free Listings, Build Your Inbound Links


by Andrew DiFiore

Did you know that you can claim any number of online business listings absolutely free?

That’s right. Most online directories like YellowPages (AT&T), SuperPages, Google Places, and Yahoo! Local, automatically create a free listing on your behalf (whether you like it or not) for at least one city (most likely where your “physical” location is thought to be). They do this because they ultimately want to up-sell you other offerings for a monthly fee.  Whether these other offerings are worth the money really depends on the nature of your business. A plumber may very well benefit expanding their listing to include neighboring towns.

Regardless, we recommend to all our clients that they claim these free listings if for no other reason than to protect their brand, ensuring all the information is up to date, including the links to their site, blog, Facebook profile, and online store. But there is another compelling reason to claim your free listings: Link Building.

What is Link Building?

If you have done any kind of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website (or your clients’ websites) then you no doubt have spent a lot of time on Keyword Optimization. Well, the flip side of Keyword Optimization (which focuses on what you can do on your site) is Link Building, also know as Link Popularity, which focuses on what you can do off your site. Simply put, the more people who link to your website the higher your ranking on Search Engines Result Pages (SERP).

It used to be enough to just have lots of inbound links but the spammers and scammers started using link farms (and other black-hat techniques) to spoof the search algorithms and now such tactics will get your site banned for life.

Google and company now give greater weight to the quality of inbound links not just quantity, meaning that it is better to have links from sites and blogs well-established as authoritative sources (e.g. Wikepedia, Technorati, Psychology Today).

Claim Your Listings, Build Your Inbound Links

So, having links from authoritative sources increases ranking and visibility on search sites which in turns drives quality visitors. Without costing a cent! Why wouldn’t you do this? Before you shout out time let me remind you most of these listings already exist, all you have to do is claim them and make sure the info is correct. Five minutes tops! And although many of these directories offer a lot of additional features like microblogging and social networking (intended to keep you coming back, not necessarily a bad thing), by no means are your obligated to use them, therefore, you can update and forget.

Here is my shortlist of free listings worth claiming:

I suggest you search for your listing first before creating a new one; start with your business address and if it is not there, try your personal address. By the way, the data entered under a search engine’s local listing appears on their corresponding map. Google now enables businesses to include videos, tweets, and such right on Google Maps (read this post).

One point of clarification: claiming your listings is not the end-all of Link Building, it is really just the least one can do to protect their brand. It is an easy way to boost your standing with search engine without needing to be an SEO expert to do it. Link Building is an ongoing effort that should be part of your overall marketing strategy. I will elaborate on this in future posts.

What other listings have you found useful? Feel free to drop a comment below.


Nov 18 2010

Yahoo! Clues Ups the Ante on Search Behavior Metrics


by Andrew DiFiore

Cool new tool for search behavior insight and keyword optimization from Yahoo! If you think Google AdWords Keyword Tool is great, you’re going to love Yahoo! Clues.

Yahoo! Clues allows you to enter one or two keywords and graphically compare search behavior by a variety of aggregated data such as gender, age, location, income level, search flow, and related searches. Yahoo! updates this data approximately every hour.

Watch the quick tour video by Brian Theodore, Director of Search Products at Yahoo!


Jun 15 2010

Twitter Places vs. Google Places


by Andrew DiFiore

Google asserts that 1 in 5 searches are location based.

This gave impetus for Google Places (formerly Local Business Center). Google Places expands on Place Pages, which allows a business to “claim” their own MerchantCircle-like listing that feeds Google Search and Google Map (e.g. California Pizza). In addition to such banal things as hours of operation and coupons, Google Places supports customized QR Codes (via Favorite Places) and — for just $25 per month — businesses in select cities can make their listings stand out with Google Tags.

Aside: For the uninitiated, Google automatically generates these pages regardless of whether or not you have a physical business address so it would be wise to claim your listing if for no other reason then to ensure the information is accurate. It is free for one location (city).

Twitter Place

Yesterday, Twitter announced you can tag Tweets with specific places and create new Twitter Places. You can also click a Twitter Place within a Tweet to see recent Tweets from a particular location.  A really cool feature here is you can publish check-ins from Foursquare and Gowalla directly to Twitter. This means that if you click on a Twitter Place you’ll see standard Tweets and check-ins from these location-based services. Twitter will be rolling out Twitter Places in 65 countries over the next few weeks so expect to see a “Add Your Location” link below a Tweet box near you.

As far as Twitter challenging Google? Not really. Incorporating hyperlocal features has been a big trend in social media and online marketing at large. Both Twitter Places and Google Places are powerful weapons for any marketer to have in their arsenal.


May 24 2010

US Internet Ad Spending Revised Upward 10.8%


by Andrew DiFiore

eMarketer revised its forecast last week for US. Internet ad spending upward to 10.8% growth this year compared with 2009 (versus 5.5% it had predicted in December). This means US Internet ad spending will total $25.1 billion this year, after declining 3.4% last year.

Google’s reported 21% jump in net US ad revenue for 1Q10 (compare this to the 5.3% gain in last year’s Q1) was a the impetus for eMarketer to re-evaluate how fast the sector is rebounding. eMarketer said it anticipates that search spending will increase 15.7% this year, while banner ad spending will jump 8.2% and video spending will increase 48.1%.

In addition, in both the US and Europe, emphasis on accountability and return on investment (ROI) are causing more marketers to turn to search engine marketing and optimization tactics.


Jan 25 2010

Google Real-Time Search the Ticket for B2B Social Media


by Andrew DiFiore

Is it really much of a surprise that search is becoming more real-time?

Nielsen recently reported that social media usage has increased by 82% in the last year and showing no sign of slowing any time soon. Social media is the number one activity online (surpassing porn). Microsoft inked deals with Twitter and Facebook back in October 2009 to include status updates on Bing. What took Google so long? Who cares? With 65% of all searches, Google’s integration of real-time conversations is potentially a real game-changer.

The reason businesses and B2B marketers should pay attention is that Google (and the users) give more weight to the latest news as it relates to their queries, especially from unbiased sources (Google does let you override this via Show Options… sidebar).

I’ve always advocated to clients that it doesn’t really matter how your customers find you as long as they find you. It may be your web site or your Facebook page, whatever the touch-point, it is all goodness. This means if you want to get the most out of your SEO strategy then your social media must be optimized — tweets, Facebook status, Yahoo Answers, news articles, press releases, and so on.