Archive for March, 2010

How to Rank in Google Maps: Step 3 (How to Get Local Reviews)

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Last time, we finished submitting locations to Google Local Business Center. Once you receive that precious little letter from Google, input the PIN number into your Local Business Center account…and you’re good to go!

enter pin

Now what?

Some factors have changed in local ranking, some have not. The fact that more positive reviews help you rank better still certainly holds true today. Sure, you could just start writing reviews about your own business, but if we’ve learned anything, it’s Google is smart - so get ‘em from your customers.

flyte reviews

How to get reviews

Different industries are going to have different barriers to acquiring local reviews. That said, there are a few different strategies – from the obvious, to a little more out of the box.


That’s simple enough, right? Think of some of your customers who had a great experience with you and contact them. Ask if they’d be kind enough to give you a review on Google Maps – or even their favorite review site. Hey, you’ll even give them one too!

Make it easy

I’m going to use a hotel as an example here, as this technique wouldn’t work for every organization. Start by setting up a computer specifically for reviews – in a hotel, perhaps at the check-in desk. Bookmark Google Maps, and after the customer checks out, ask if they’d take just a few moments to give you a review.

Or, perhaps your company already sends out monthly postcards or mailers to customers. Why not include a line at the bottom asking them to give you a review – just make sure you include the link!

Likewise, are you running an email campaign? Include a link in the bottom to your Google Maps listing, your Yelp profile, your Yellow Pages listing – whichever you want to improve. (Remember that Google Maps actually pulls reviews from a number of sites, not just their own.)

yelp stickerPost a sign

You’ve probably stepped into a local shop or restaurant and seen the Yelp stickers on the door. If that’s not an incentive to go to Yelp and leave a review – or at least check out what other people said – I don’t know what is.

Give them an incentive

Speaking of incentives, why not give customers a reason to help you out? Whether you offer a percentage or money off your product, free shipping, or free samples; it will be money well spent.

Obviously these tactics aim to get you positive reviews - but next time we’ll talk about what happens if you get an (eek!) bad review.

See the entire guide here.

Nicki Hicks
Local Reviewer

Photo by ropobby

Social Media Marketing (How to Leverage Social Channels for Value, with SEOmoz’s Rand Fishkin)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Content in this Presentation

  • Social media ecosphere stats
  • Value of social media traffic
  • How to leverage social channels for impact
  • How social media success supports business goals
  • Examples of great social campaigns

Social Media Ecosphere Stats

Data to Convince your Team that Social is Big

Here are a few of the screenshots Rand used in his presentation; you’ll find the URL for the original source at the bottom of each slide.

Social Media Marketing Statistics (from Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz)

View more presentations from Nicki Hicks.

Getting Honest about Social

Social vs. Viral

  • Social isn’t technically viral
  • You can’t make word of mouth viral
  • Social is branding (from a marketing stand point)
  • Social isn’t usually a sales channel

Have the right expectations

  • Metrics and traffic to site are going to be lower
  • These visitors aren’t necessarily engaged visitors

Social media is the top priority of high level marketers for 2010 (from eMarketer)

Social media has a steep learning curve

  1. How to use the service
  2. Knowing what to share
  3. Marketing content effectively
  4. How to be authentic

5 Steps for Social Media Success

1. Research

  • Search on Twitter for your topics
  • Search on Facebook for your competitors
  • Search on Delicious for your subject matter
  • Search for YouTube for your topic

2. Construct a Strategy

  • What are our business goals?
  • What do we want social media to do for our business?
  • What will we attempt to reach these goals?
  • What metrics will we use to measure our success?
  • What will we consider an acceptable ROI?

3. Find a social “champion”

  • Find the person in your organization who can be your social media rock star
  • Maybe this person has a social media presence built up already
  • Don’t spread the power around – your campaign might lose its focus that way

4. Identify channels of value

5. Measure properly

Social Media Tactics: Where & How to Engage Socially

  • Blogging
  • Niche foums
    • Reach a particular audience
  • Social Network Profiles
    • If you’re providing interesting information, fans/followers will share your content – and expose you to all of their friends/followers
    • On LinkedIn: drive traffic to job postings
    • Dell drove a ton in sales using Twitter and Twitter-specific coupon codes. (This is a very particular case; they built a sales-oriented Twitter account to do this)
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Social News sites (Reddit, Hacker news, Newsvine, Digg, etc.)

How Social Media is Indirectly Supporting Business Goals

  • Social media for classic SEO (social media + domain authority = ranking)
  • Social media & QDF
  • Personalization & social search
  • List building (e.g. Facebook Connect)

What do Marketers say?

what do marketers say

Examples of social campaigns

Webinar by Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz

How to Rank in Google Maps: Step 2 (How to Submit to Google Local Business Center)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Yesterday we started the submission process to Google Local Business Center. Today, we’ll finish up!

  1. When are you open? Add your hours of operation.
  2. How can I pay you? Add your payment options.
  3. Add pictures. If nothing else, make sure your logo is uploaded.
  4. flyte images and video

  5. Add video. Have a YouTube channel? Make sure that you include (up to 5) videos!
  6. Any other information? Do you have free parking? Free WiFi? Let your customers know!
  7. Click finish.

And you’re done! Choose whether you’d like to be contacted by phone (immediately) or by postcard (within a few weeks). You’ll have to input the code they give you either way.

contact by google

That’s all for today. Tomorrow we’ll cover the next step of ranking better at Google Maps: local reviews.

See the entire guide here.

Nicki Hicks
Rank Locally

How to Rank in Google Maps: Step 1 (How to Submit to Google Local Business Center)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

So you’ve decided submitting your location to Google Local Business Center would be a smart way to increase your visibility in local search. Couldn’t agree with you more.

Confused about where to start? Not to worry. Let’s walk through it, step by step.

  1. Head over to Google Local Business Center. Make sure you have a Google account – that you want your business account to be tied to.
  2. Click “Add New Business”.
  3. Fill out as much as humanly possible:
  4. flyte info

  5. Categories. In Google Local, you can choose up to 5 categories that describe your business. You’ll have choose at least one category, but I would suggest adding 2-3 categories available by Google, then 2-3 of your own:
  6. local business categories

  7. Is your map marker in the right place? If not, fix it!

fix map marker

That’s it for now, boys and girls! Tomorrow we’ll finish the process of submitting your business!

See the entire guide here.

Nicki Hicks
You’re halfway there!

Maine SEO Project: The Delphi Group, Inc. (SEO & Blogging)

Friday, March 12th, 2010

delphi groupFlyte recently relaunched another website with an SEO component; this time for The Delphi Group, Inc. – a Maine-based business consulting company which focuses in services for:

Know your organization has an issue, but not sure which one? Not to worry, you can take one of The Delphi Group’s mini-surveys to find out which service is right for you.

Need more great information about a successful organization? Check out the Delphi Group blog. There, you’ll find a ton of information from competition and collaboration to organizational culture to effective coaching.

Need more information about how to implement SEO and a blog? Check out flyte.

Nicki Hicks
Maine SEO

5 Reasons Why Guest Blogging Will Change Your Life

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

…or at least your online presence.

1. Get writing practice.

It’s easy to get stuck in one writing style on your own blog. Guest blogging can help expand your horizons and push your writing limits.

My first guest blog post was a very sarcastic one on SEOmoz’s YOUmoz (their user-generated blog). It was just for fun; but not everyone was laughing…

ugc do you like this post

…but I did something a little different. The caveat: not everyone will enjoy what you write.

2. Expand your network.

Connect with industry leaders, your blogging heros, and more! Which leads to…


3. Start the conversation.

Blogs with a broader reach than your own tend to get more comments. Be prepared to answer them!

4. Get inspired.

Conversation, other posts on the blog, and a number of other factors could lead to inspiration for more blogposts.

I received the following comment from a fellow SEOmozzer…

inspirational comment

…which led me to write this sarcastic sister post about Google Webmaster Tools. Writing several guest blogs led me to writing this post. See the snowball effect?

5. Get more exposure.

Last, but most importantly is the exposure you get from guest blogging. Whether it’s to a new and different or maybe just a broader audience – exposure, if nothing else, is the reason to guest blog.

Usually the service (and those who run it) will tweet about it:

ann smarty tweet

And they’ll also include a bio signature with some pretty influential links:

nicki bio

Convinced guest blogging is for you?

Get out there and start writing! Nearly every industry will have some user-generated content blogs, it’s just a matter of finding them! [Update: For a great new resource for guest blogging, check out the My Blog Guest forum - which connects guest bloggers from a ton of industries!]

Nicki Hicks
Guest Blogger

Segment Your Way to PPC Success (Search Engine Strategies Webinar with David Szetela)

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

David Szetela, of Clix Marketing, gave a really great presentation for Search Engine Strategies on segmenting with Pay Per Click. You can follow David on Twitter here.

PPC Segmenting = Targeting

  1. Targeted Campaigns
  2. Diverse Keyword Lists
  3. Brand Term Segmentation
  4. Intent-targeted Landing Pages

Segmenting Campaigns

  1. Geotargeting
  2. Search Networks
  3. Content Target Types
  4. Devices
  5. Dayparting

Geotargeting Campaigns

location language demographics

Segment Search Networks

google networks

Search and Content campaigns should never be mixed, even though that is the default behavior.

Segment by device


Unless your campaign is designed specifically for mobile devices, uncheck the iPhone/mobile devices box off.

Segment by Hour/Day

ad schedule

Don’t make your dayparting decisions based on intuition. Microsoft Ad Center is the only paid search provider which gives data by hour of day. AdWords, unfortunately, does not give you

Segmenting Ad Groups

  • Directly affects profitability
  • Affects CTR, which affects QS, which affects CPC
  • Goal should be high CTR/QS and high conversion rates

Szetela Ad Group Rule: All keywords in an ad group should have at least two words in common.

For example:

  • Keyword list:
  • Hawaii travel
  • Hotels in Hawaii
  • Flights to Hawaii
  • Hawaii beach vacation
  • Hawaiian holidays
  • Maui Hotels

Segmented list into 3 smaller list

List 1:

  • Hotels in Hawaii
  • Hawaii hotels
  • Find Hawaiian hotels

List 2:

  • Hawaii vacation
  • Vacations in Hawaii
  • Hawaiian vacations

List 3:

  • Maui flights
  • Flights to Maui
  • Cheap Maui flights

Here is the original ad (left) vs. the new three, segmented ads (right):

see the difference between ads

Segmenting Ad Groups with AdWords Editor

David estimates that using the Google AdWords Editor takes about 1/10 the time as using the web-based editor.

Segmenting Brand Campaigns

[David gives full credit to Craig Danuloff and this blogpost for the following.]

  • Brand pure keywords (acme widegets, acmewidgets,, amcewidgets)
  • Navigational brand keywords (acme widgets site, acme widgets homepage, acme widgets Portland)
  • Brand related keywords (acme’s CEO name, acme’s patented manufacturing technique)
  • Brand plus keywords (acme widget ball bearings, acme shipping policy)

Use Negative Brand Keywords

Use “-acme ball bearings” because you want “we are the manufacturer” ads to show, not the generic “we have great ball bearings” ads  to show.

Landing Page Segmentation

Land PPC visitors on different pages depending on the buying cycle phase

Early phase/Late phase Pages

Early phase

  • Several choices
  • Browser/Shopper Navigation
  • Multi-option Layout
  • Soft offers

Late phase

  • One choice
  • Little/no off-page navigation
  • Sparse layout
  • Single hard offer

Example: Software

  • Early phase: Download a white paper; browse features
  • Mid-term phase: Download trial software (keyword: “compare”)
  • Late phase: Buy software


Q: How do I find search queries?
A: Four places:

  1. AdWords user interface (click on tab in interface and see keywords and what Google matched to)
  2. Run search query report in AdWords interface
  3. Log files out of your FTP server
  4. Search query reporting from paid search reporting systems

Q: Do you create all three match types for every keyword?
A: Yes; except for 1- and 2-word broad matches. But we do use phrase match for both versions (e.g. “red widget” and “widget red”)

Q: Do you feel AdWords content network is better for branding?
A: Search network is for demand satisfaction. Content network is better for demand generation; evoke, build, and create demand. And no, it’s not exclusively for branding.

Q: Do you pause underperforming keywords or keep them active?
A: Theory: there’s no such thing as a bad keyword. If you have research saying a keyword is being used and it’s not performing, maybe it’s paired with the wrong ad and/or landing page.

Q: Do you recommend starting with specific segments or starting broad and getting specific?
A: If you have less time and start broader, just make sure you’re able to pay frequent attention to be ready to create more targeted and specific ads.

Q: Best resource to learn more about segmenting brand terms?
A: Read at least two books (including David’s Customers Now); Mark and Motive training.

Q: What search engines do you advertise with?
A: The big three; Facebook; every once in a while 2nd tier SEs like Ask.

Q: Where are the biggest short comings with segmenting?
A: Three things:

  1. Most advertisers neglect turning off content network when they’re running search campaigns.
  2. Ads directed to mobile devices – turn it off!
  3. Huge keyword lists with very little resemblance to one another. Low CTRs (under 1.5%) – ad is poorly written (no benefits or calls-to-action) or keywords are too generalized.

Q: Where do you see Twitter fitting in as a tool for segmenting in PPC?
A: Twitter and Facebook are two additional sources of traffic to a site; then there’s organic search, PPC, and email. Armed with great Analtyics tools, advertisers will be measuring the affect of each medium on the conversion path (so you know the value of each step in the path). For example, the first visit comes from Twitter, the second two come from PPC, and the last three come from Facebook before the customer converts. Current Analytics only give value to the last.

Q: In content advertising, is there less segmenting necessary?
A: When you use the content network, think of sites your audiences hangs out at. If the set is small, you have a small set of ad groups; if it’s large, you have a large set.

Q: Is there a maximum number to a list of keywords?
A: You can’t have more than 2,000 keywords in a list; if you beg, you can have 5,000 keywords. (But that probably doesn’t follow Szetela’s rule of having each keyword have two similar terms.)

Q: Do you think automatic matching should be turned off in most cases?
A: Yes; it means “match my broad match keywords to even broader match keywords” – it’ll match “red sneakers” to “purple slippers”.

Q: What are the best practices for finding the CPC initially?
A: Start with conservative estimates; take your target CPC – and conversions and CTR are low – then go backward to the cost you’re willing to pay per click.

5 ½ Ways to Optimize for Local Search: The 2010 Version

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Over a year ago, I wrote about optimizing your website for local search. While all of those tactics are still important (and will still work), certain points have become more important than others.

So here it is. How to optimize for local in 2010…

1. Submit to local directories.

Submit to every one that you can get your hands on. And let me warn you…there are a lot. But take the time and do it, filling out as much information as you can. Here are the important ones I use:

  • Google Maps (or Google Local Business Center)
  • Yahoo Local
  • Bing Local
  • Best of the Web
  • Superpages
  • Localeze
  • TripAdvisor (if it applies)
  • Yelp (if it applies)
  • Insider Pages
  • Yellow Pages
  • Kudzu

If you want a truly complete list, check out this post by Local SEO Guide.

1 ½. Update your local listings.

In order to truly leverage these listings, make sure you update them. Think of them as local profiles – a place where you can upload images, video, even coupons (similar to your Facebook fan page). Keep your profiles fresh – just like your website.

2. Gather reviews.

Even as things have changed in local search, the importance of local reviews haven’t. Long story short, the more positive local reviews you have, the higher you rank! So ask your clients and customers to give you a review.

flyte reviews

Get a negative review? Not to worry; face it head on, and reply right on the thread with an apology and a promise to fix what went wrong. More often than not, they’ll remove the scathing review or write a positive follow-up!

3. Optimize those title tags.

This one’s pretty self explanatory: make sure your location is in your title tags.

4. Address & Phone Number

Your address and phone number should be on every page of the website. Not only is this helpful for customers, but also for search engines. The footer is a good (and subtle) place for your address and phone number.

flyte address phone

5. Social Media

Nearly every social profile will have an area for location. Use that to your advantage for your business!

flyte facebook

Not only will your social profiles rank well for queries for your business name and location, but the implications of real time social search could also play into effect in the future:

real time search

Using these tactics isn’t a sure fire way to get to the top of Google Maps, but it’s certainly a start.

Nicki Hicks
Go local

Maine SEO: Evergreen Subaru (SEO & Blogging)

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Adopt a Maine SubaruFlyte recently wrapped up a project for Evergreen Subaru, a Subaru dealership located in Auburn, Maine. Like so many car dealerships, Evergreen was struggling with differentiation on the web; especially since many other dealerships are on the same website platforms (and even similar designs!).

How did we suggest they differentiate?

Why a blog of course. The great folks at Evergreen came up with the great idea of the “Adopt a Subaru” blog, where they talk about everything from adopting a car that needs a great home to car buying tips to driving safety tricks!

So if you need a new car, preowned car, or some helpful tips about which one is right for you, make sure you call Evergreen Subaru.

If you need help differentiating your business with a blog, give flyte a call.

Nicki Hicks
Maine SEO

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