Tampa Search Marketing – Insights from the Bay Area

Search popularity is always an interesting topic as people get deeper into their Tampa-unique search marketing initiatives. However peeking into local search popularity is another matter since the volume is never high enough for terms related to Tampa. Nor can we peek at what those within Tampa are searching for. The most popular tools, like WordTracker and Google Keyword Tool, just don’t do that.

But another tool from Google allows to see what the searchers here in Tampa are doing, Google Insights. You can drill down with many different levers in the tool, but the regional filter is worth delving into.

Using the tool’s filter I ran reports looking back over the past thirty days targeting the Tampa Bay area and its search terms on Google. As we might expect many of the popular terms at the national level show up, like ‘Facebook’, ‘YouTube’, ‘news’, etc. But if you drill down into the categories you find some very unique Bay Area terms.

In the Financial category are many searches for Suncoast Federal Credit Union. Notice the absence of some of the other big banks in that list. Hats off to Suncoast.
In the Local category, we see a near breakout search for the recent Ribfest in St. Petersburg.

In the Real Estate category the county property appraiser’s offices (Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota) are quite popular.

In the Society category, it’s the universities that dominate, in particular the University of South Florida and the University of Florida.

So are you are preparing your strategy to aggressively attack the search marketing channel here in Tampa, are you going to this level of detail to not only do the due diligence on your industry’s terms, are you are looking for opportunities to align yourself with popular terms that are local in nature?

If not, Google Insights is a great starting point.

UPDATE 12/8/2009: The St Pete Times has an article this morning on the most Googled terms in Tampa Bay.  Here’s a direct link the raw data. It’s interesting to see Google’s view compared the my take above.

Online Marketing, Tampa Style – 4 New Google Trends to Watch Closely

As the New Year approaches here in the Tampa Bay area many businesses large and small are looking to make changes and begin the new life for their body as well as their business. Online marketing is usually the first place people target to make a substantial impact to the business. So we take a look at 4 new Google trends worth watching closely.

Google is cluttering the search results page. Over the past few months and in months to come Google will add more components to the results page including:

  1. Social Search results. Currently at the bottom of the page.

    Social Search Results

    Social Search Results

  2. Profiles. Also at the bottom for name searches.

    Personal Profiles

    Personal Profiles

  3. Local Listings Ads. An expansion of AdWords that pushes organic results (non-revenue generating) even further down.

    Local Listings Ads

    Local Listings Ads

  4. AdWords SiteLinks. Another line or three within the paid results.

    AdWords Sitelinks

    AdWords Sitelinks

What does this mean for you? It’s no longer easy to dominate the search results on Google. In addition to traditional organic search results and AdWords tactics you now need to expand your list of campaigns if you want to own the results page and starve out your competition.

As with any channel of marketing it’s important to weigh the time and investment you make in online marketing to insure you are getting a good return. Even with online marketing there may be better and more efficient options than Google for gaining new business.

But most of the options are niche and focused on your particular industry or vertical. Google is the good catch-all for all industries, but don’t be blinded by its press. There are other options; ones that may be less expensive.

Soon I’ll delve into a few of those vertical as they relate to Tampa and how businesses in them could attack the online market and capture local, regional, national or even international business.

If you would like to see me focus on your industry, contact me and I’ll glad to share the results right here with you and the world.

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Claim Your Business Now! Local Searches on Google are waiting for you – South Tampa Dentist Example

In case you haven’t already, do not wait any longer to claim your business on Google’s Local Business Center.  This step is critical to putting your business in the local search results of your prospects.

Local search results are those associated with the map you regularly see in one of the top positions of the search results.  Searchers click on these links in drove for many business categories.  As you optimize you site to rank for terms in the organic results, do not discount getting you business in the local section of results.

An significant advantage of the clicks is you get to direct them to a specific page on your site rather than letting Google determine which page is most appropriate.  For example, if you were to Google “south tampa dentist“, you would get the following results as of today.

Dentist In South Tampa

Dentist In South Tampa

Notice Coast Dental among the top spots in these results even though Coast Dental does not rank in the organic positions for that term or “dentist in south tampa“.  This business and the others are receiving top billing just by managing their local business pages through Google.

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Your Online Reputation and Why it Matters

Benjamin Franklin once said that it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. The reputation of a company has always been important, but perhaps never so much as today. Living in this Internet age, it is much easier to learn the reputation of companies, not only the ones down the block, but also those halfway around the world. Knowing your company’s reputation is important to your brand but equally important to the bottom line.

Researching Online

Marketing departments have long known that one of the most important tools for getting the word out about their business is through word-of-mouth recommendations. While advertising is about what you say about your company, recommendations focus on what your customers are saying. It is also believed that for every public review about your business, there are many more customers who feel the same way but simply have not taken the time to formally express it.

The Internet makes posting a review simple, and it makes that information easily available to the masses. Studies show that the majority of Americans today go online to research products and companies before moving forward with a purchase or arranging to do business with a company. Because of this, it is important that you pay attention to what your online reputation is, and become proactive in building it.

Encourage Customers, Follow Up

A great way to build your online reputation is to encourage your customers to spread the word and write reviews. There are many places on the Web where customers can write reviews about a company, good or bad. Encouraging all customers to review your company, product or service is one of the best ways to take control of your online reputation. Consider identifying specific places where they can leave reviews, or even provide a list of such sites on the company website or in your online newsletter.

Once people have been encouraged to leave reviews about the company – whether favorable or not, take the time to keep up with those reviews. Setting aside some time each week or bi-weekly to search out and read the reviews can be beneficial, and using that opportunity to respond to reviews can help build a positive online reputation.

As with most situations, there are individuals who have found ways to ‘work’ the review process. There are people that get friends or family members to stack the deck with glowing reviews. There are even companies that pay writers to whip up favorable reviews. As tempting as this may seem, avoid engaging in such behavior. If the word gets out that your reviews are bogus, it is going to be more damaging to your reputation than one or two less-than-perfect evaluations. Besides, consumers can often pick up on the trend, and will learn to discount the reviews outright.

Learning, Moving On

While online reviews can be helpful to a consumer who conducts research, they can also be a valuable feedback tool for the company being reviewed. Rather than immediately discounting the negative comments, be sure to consider the full context and overarching themes of the negative comments. The information may be accurate and valuable in helping to improve the overall customer service experience or in creating a better product with enhanced features.

In the end, when you have taken the negative information into account and made positive changes, future write-ups about the company should be much improved. Today, Benjamin Franklin might well give his quote a second thought and revise it to say “it only takes one bad review to help a company see the error of its ways and make improvements.

Sidebar

Online company reviews appear on everything from personal blogs to Amazon.com. Setting up a Google alert with your company’s name can help keep you informed of anything new that comes out about your company. Once you have set up an alert, any time your company name is mentioned online and Google picks it up, an e-mail link will be sent to you.

Other good places to check online reviews include:

Maps.Google.com – This is the most important of all review sites since these reviews have a significant impact on your local search results.
Yelp.com
Shopping.com
CitySearch.com
ConsumerSearch.com
Epinions.com
JudysBook.com
AngiesList.com
Superpages.com
What should you do if you come across a review that is false or possibly slanderous to your company? Contact the website directly and explain that it contains false information that could be damaging to your company, then request the site to remove the review and/or allow your company to post a written response to it.

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Don’t Count Yourself – Exclude your company from your analytical reports

No matter what the size of your company, your (and your co-workers) can have a significant impact on your analytics data.

Depending on the purpose of your website, internal visitors may or may be interesting to track.  If internal visitors are treated equally to exxternal visitors, then stop reading now.  Your analytical tool likely have you covered by default.

But if you don’t want to see your internal traffic on your reports, then keep reading.

There are three primary methods to exlude this traffic:

  1. Place a cookie on the to-be-excluded machine.
  2. Identify which domain name you want to exclude.
  3. Identify which IP address you want to exclude.

For Google Aanlytics, they have done a great job explaining the necessary steps.

For Omniture’s SiteCatalyst, go to “Admin” and choose “Exclude by IP”.  From there you can enter the necessary IP addresses as well as look for a link that takes you to the page where you can place a cookie on you machine.  Hint: The link is hidden in the Overview paragraph.

Here one trick you may need.  If you need to exclude multiple IP addresses from your Google Analytics account it could be very daunting to type them and apply them to many different profiles.  Note: I have not found a similar trick for SiteCatalyst yet.  Also note that if your IP addresses are adjacent to each other in number sequence, you can use wildcards more easily.  This is for distinct IP that are not remotely similar to one another.

Within your Google Analytics account, click on the Filter Manager option at the bottom.  Then choose “Add Filter”.  Name your filter “abc.com ip range 1”, Predefined Filter,  Exclude, “traffic from the IP addresses” and Match.

In the IP address field you will type in a regular expression.  So if you wanted to exclude 2 IP address with one filter, 2.2.2.2 and 3.3.3.3, you would type in:

^2.2.2.2|3.3.3.3$

You can continue to add your IP address until you reach the 255 character limit.  In my experience it safest to limit this to 10-12.  To create this long regular expression, use Excel with the CONCATENATE formula.  So you may need multiple filters depending upon how many addresses you need to exclude.

Now if you have just applied this filter to one of your profiles.  If you need to apply it many more, just go into Filter Manager, edit the filter and apply it to each appropriate profile.

Hope this helps.  Let me know how it goes.

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Are You Tracking Your Broken Inbound Links? Your 404 Pages Not Found?

I see this happening all of the time with company sites.  Not only do they have no handling of “404 page not found”, if they do handle it there is no tracking of what page the visitor was trying to reach.

So let’s think about this.  Someone has come to your site through a bad link and here’s the results.

  1. They get peeved by the bad link and abandon your site.  You just lost money.
  2. You even don’t know they came and went.
  3. You don’t know where the bad link is out on the web.  So you can’t fix it.

Now here are the solutions:

  1. Oh Snap!  Create a custom 404 page according to some best practices out there.  Each time I do this I look up great examples and borrow their ideas.
  2. Track hits to your 404 page.  This will show you which pages are not being found as well as show you where the links are coming from.  Have these reports sent to you on a daily basis.  Else you lose more traffic.
    • Google Analytics has a simple addition to the JavaScript tracking code on the 404 page.
    • Omniture SiteCatalyst: in the code of your 404 page, leave s.pageName=”” blank and set s.pageType=”errorPage”.  This will create a custom entry into your “Pages Not Found” report in SiteCatalyst.
  3. Once you know which pages are being requested but not found, create a 301 redirect to the closest matching page you have.  Don’t give them options if you know where they should be going.  If you’re not sure where they should go (you are the webmaster, aren’t you?), then send them to a tables of contents page.  Not the sitemap.html or sitemap.xml page, but rather a page with a few targeted pages that will help them decided.
  4. Contact the owner of the inbound links and fix the problem.  Sometimes it’s as simple as claiming your business on a review page, other times it’s going to be harder because they’re in someone’s blog comments.  At least you’ll have the 301 to back you up.

Don’t be blind to this visitor loss.  Everyone has bad inbound links.  Fix yours or lose money.

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Google Analytics and tagging your inbound links/campaigns

If you’re using Google Analytics, or any other web analytics tool, you must start now to tag your inbound links/campaigns so you can track their effectiveness.

Visit Google’s tagging page for details on how to use utm_source, utm_medium and utm_campaign, the three required parameters that make up campaign tracking.

Omniture’s SiteCatalyst has an even more extensive implementation of this through their default s_cid parameter that allows you to correlate campaigns across more dimensions than Google.  But no matter who you use, start using it now.

I’ve placed campaign tracking tags on my LinkedIn profile and even on the signature of my outbound emails.  You would be surprised how many people click on those links to learn more about you and your company.

A word of caution, I have found at least one place where you cannot place these campaign tracking tags, Google Local Business Center.  Surprisingly, the addition of the three utm_ tags above threw one of my customer’s listings into Flagged’ state for over a week.  That state supposedly sends it to Google for review.  After a week I couldn’t justify not having my customer listed in Google’s local search any more so I removed the tags.

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