Last Week in Local 5/15/17
Join Local U for the latest public episode of Last Week in Local, a weekly conversation about the articles that attracted our attention during the past week ending May 15th, 2017. This week featuring Beth Kahlich and Mike Blumenthal.
This year we will be publishing our Last Week in Local video directly to the Local U blog. It will be published every Monday and will include discussions about the events in the last week -- strategic and tactical -- that affect Local SEO & marketing.
If you have a special topic you would like us to discuss for our other weekly feature, the Deep Dive in Local, or if you would like to be on one or the other of our segments, reach outand send us the topic and your availability. If you are interested in sponsoring this weekly show also please let us know.
Let us know what you think. Welcome to Last Week in Local!
Our weekly discussions are also now available as a podcast as well.
OK this has nothing to do with local search. Common wisdom is not always good wisdom. Well maybe a little.
A small survey shows one third of SMBs, with a physical location and less than 50 employees, plan to spend less than $1000 in marketing. At the other end of the spectrum, one third of SMBs plan to spend over $25,000. While the survey recognizes SMBs are moving more of their dollars into digital media, and the gap might be in part vertical specific, I also suspect the complex set of tools and products offered to SMBs stifle adoption because of the wide array of choices to make in digital marketing.
After Google repositioned its new smartphone as part of an AI-first world, its promise as a cure-all technology still seem far away. A mere footnote in this article about machine learning company, Lattice, bought by Apple, suggests that their technology could be used in Maps, among other things. Lattice makes sense out of "unstructured data". Looks like Apple, at least, is exploring "AI-first" methods to deal with data likely to improve their search and assistant technology. Ultimately, I think this will include more traditionally offline data, such as location and transaction data, used in search and online marketing, emphasizing the need for local businesses to have holistic online/offline marketing strategy.
The recent attack on Windows XP systems, targeting critical patient files demonstrates the problem with business and technology. Large businesses are trading stability for security by not updating their critical computer systems. Perhaps this is an opportunity from smaller, more nimble businesses to shine, since they have less to lose by moving to the latest technology platforms. Could cloud technologies avoid massive scams like this?
Delivery Hero is one among many of the food delivery apps. Businesses that bridge the online/offline gap continue to get funded even in very competitive verticals. The ability to bridge the digital and real-world divide will define marketers that will be under pressure to account for all their spend with a positive return in ROI.
Will Google the new home page and Facebook the new word of mouth and both aggressively defending their turfs, where exactly does Yelp fit in when they can’t compete on ad pricing, sustain themselves with old fashioned hard sell, have expenses going up as fast as sales AND have no business loyalty
-> Google's new local SERP features
And what does this mean for business who previously provided these services? I wrote a post for Streetfight a few months back about the lack of a leader in the local events space? Does a lack of ability to scale local in a certain industry leave a clear open door for Google?
And what does this mean for other startups working to scale local? Local food delivery startups are struggling at the moment. Is this something Google might jump into? I'm not sure if they'd actually higher local delivery people, but could they create an in-SERP app that aggregates the current delivery services, just like they've done in the travel industry?
Mike Blumenthal: If you study this patient you see how google, while still being able to leverage links for ranking of events, often, like in Local search uses other metrics to rank the “entity”. Again like with Local ranking, they are looking at mentions without links and other non traditional signals as well as links.
--> Miriam Ellis's moz post, offline + organic = Local
“Because of this, local SEOs who lack a basic understanding of how customer service works in the offline world won’t be fully equipped to consult with clients who may need as much help defining the USP of their business as they do managing its local promotion."
This post does such a great job of tying local SEO to offline, real world customer & business interactions. We talk a lot in local about how Google is working to build a digital model of the real world. And if there are issues with the real-world setup, management or infrastructure of a business, it's increasingly difficult to make things look good online.
-> I can't stop following the story of Uber's downfall
The NYTimes is having a field day with Travis Kalanik. They've got a lawsuit from Google, legal issues over Greyball, privacy concerns, not to mention their harassment issues, which now seem, unfortunately, buried under other stories.
Was all of this trouble inevitable? And if so, who's next? By which I mean - are there other tech giants with skeletons in their closet? Have we praised tech unicorns to the point of ignoring their huge issues, and is that period now over? I feel like what happens to Uber will have a huge effect on the rest of tech, not to mention Google/Alphabet and their push toward self-driving cars (i.e. - dominance of YET ANOTHER MARKET).
-> Finally, I've been studying ad tech lately
Especially locally-focused ad tech and privacy concerns. I find articles like this one particularly interesting. Essentially they're talking about technology that follows people around via their phones. This isn't a new idea, but it's a growing one, and increasingly normal.
And in articles like this, I see relatively few privacy concerns. Like "how do we make sure customers are okay with this?" Does that even need to be a concern? Should ad tech just push forward in local without much concern, and wait for an Uber situation (lawsuits, sudden reveals of consumer privacy abuses, etc.) to catch up with them? I'm not sure. But it sure is interesting to follow, especially as someone who advocates more of a branding approach to local.
Speaking of ad tech... Almost a year after app developer SilverPush vowed to kill its privacy-threatening software that used inaudible sound embedded into TV commercials to covertly track phone users, the technology is more popular than ever, with more than 200 Android apps that have been downloaded millions of times from the official Google Play market, according to a recently published research paper.
I can’t stop marveling at the collapse of the overbuilt US retail sector.
Shares fell 18% at Macy’s, the largest department-store company, they posted a 4.6 percent decline in comparable sales last quarter. Analysts had estimated a 3.5 percent drop. Earnings also came in well below projections, suggesting that cost-cutting efforts aren’t moving fast enough to offset the shrinking sales.
Somewhat conflicting surveys... small businesses show high demand for social media but surveys indicate a low ROI. A lot of this has to do from 1)the SMB not understanding the role of Social as a communication & CRM platform as opposed to lead gen and 2) the lack of measurement.
Always time well spent to listen to David Mihm. John Jansch always asks great questions.
Mike Blumenthal and Joy Hawkins take a Deep Dive into Google and Local Search Success. In this episode Mike and Joy discuss some of the biggest issues confronting businesses and agencies in terms of ranking at Google, what to do in the absence of MapMaker, how to maximize your interactions with Google support and more.
A sound summary by Joy Hawkins of some of the known reasons Google might remove a review. In the end their review filtering algo is a broad stroke, big data approach and if your review has similarities to spammy reviews Google catalogued in the past it will be remove. All the while spammer’s have moved on and are consistently and regularly getting fake reviews into the system for profit.
This is the first, non Californian rollout of Google’s Home Service Ads and “advanced vetting” that comes with it. More to come.