YouTube videos in Google Maps: Local Video SEO

Google just announced that you can now embed YouTube videos in merchant profiles in Google Maps. Videos are displayed in the “Photos & Videos” tab in the extended listing bubble that appears when you click on a listing.

“Local business owners can easily add YouTube videos along with other content such as business details, photos, and descriptions to their listings. To do so, simply upload your videos to YouTube and ensure that the ’embed’ option is turned on. Then, associate your video to your business listing through the Local Business Center.” A bit difficult for the average small merchant but fairly easy if you run a local SEO program.

The Google blog points to this example, I Dream of Cake in San Francisco.

I Dream of Cake San Francisco Google Maps YouTube Videos

What it means: most major North American directory publishers have launched their local video offer in the last 12 months (often powered by TurnHere or Weblistic). I think this will drastically increase the value proposition for those local videos, if publishers agree to distribute their videos in YouTube and Google Maps. I think they should do it and leverage the enormous amount of traffic found in those two sites.

Canpages Leverages Blog to Increase Brand Awareness

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to moderate a social media panel at the Infopresse conference on social networking. Sitting on my panel was Guillaume Bouchard from NVI, a Montreal-based SEO/SMO firm. He explained to the crowd of more than 280 people how, by using social media tools, he manages to generate brand awareness and increase the online street cred of Canpages, a Canadian directory company competing against Yellow Pages Group in Canada.

It starts with the creation of original and quirky content in the Canpages blog. His team then seeds that content in the various social news sites like Digg and Reddit. Working with a large network of friends and contacts, he’s able to catch the eye of online influencers who might (or might not) promote that piece of original content.

Canpages blog Weird Canadian Restaurants

His best success so far with Canpages has been this blog post about “Weird Canadian Restaurants”. It was submitted to Digg and generated 676 diggs and 101 comments. It was promoted to the first page of the site and generated good traffic (he did not disclose how much) for the Canpages blog. It was also favorited by people in StumbleUpon, another social tool that has the reputation of driving a lot of traffic. The post was well enough crafted to be picked up by Dan Mitchell from the New York Times, which generated some more traffic to the Canpages blog.

Canpages Digg Weird Canadian Restaurants

What it means: a great use (and a great understanding) of social media tools and sites to build a new directory brand and make it more exciting for “cool kids”. This is also a great strategy to build new incoming links to your domain, thereby increasing your page rank in Google. You’ve got to wonder though if there are long-lasting positive effects from both a brand equity and online directory site usage but I don’t think it hurts given the runner-up position they occupy in the market.

The Kelsey Group’s 2008 Local Media Trends: “A Pivotal Year for the Global Yellow Pages Industry”

The Kelsey Group (TKG) just released their 2008 Local Media trends. They believe 2008 will be a pivotal year for the global Yellow Pages industry. Here are the highlights:

  • Print local media: TKG wonders if the directory business will continue to be as recession-proof as it used to be, as more ROI-driven online local ad products are launched. For large US urban areas, they also talk about the creation of print opt-out plans, important market rescoping and the launching of new directory formats. They also expect higher cannibalization of traditional media sales, mostly from search engine click packages.

  • Online local media: 2008 is the year where user-generated content becomes a critical aspect of consumers’ decision-making process. Merchants will be widely invited to join that conversation as well. In addition, auto and real estate verticals will continue to develop in the local search context, new devices will lead to new sources of searches and local search inventory will increase drastically.

  • Sales: 2008 will continue to see the uphill struggle to build independent local sales channels.

  • ROI/Performance-based products: this year, we will see the beginning of the untethering of print and online usage and more use of robust ad reporting. TKG thinks that 2008 is the year where the promise of pay-per-call gets realized as multi-channel management becomes a critical success factor.

  • Verticalization: from a seller perspective, high ad spend categories will attract lots of sales competition from many different sources: SEO/SEM firms, newspapers, vertical sites, start-ups, etc. In national sales, we will see more ad localization.

  • New products: Video, Mobile and Outdoor, with a mention that “video is where the immediate action is”.

You can find the Praized blog’s 2008 predictions here.

What it means: As a regular attendee of Kelsey Conferences, I am usually well aware of most of the local media trends but there are a couple of surprises in there for me. First, the creation of opt-out programs for print directories in some US markets. I did not realize the pressure was high on US publishers to create these mechanisms. The second one is Outdoor as a new product. I wasn’t aware that local media companies were looking actively to sell “outdoor” products. In my mind, it’s the kind of interesting opportunity that’s always discussed but is never “low-hanging fruit” enough to execute. Will be interesting to follow. I also like the call to disconnect print and online usage. TKG was the first organization to warn directory companies not to couple print and online value for too long (back in 2001-2002). What they’re saying is: there used to be a time where bundling print and online usage was useful to sell but online is now strong enough to sell on its own.

The Kelsey Group’s 2008 Local Media Trends: “A Pivotal Year for the Global Yellow Pages Industry”

The Kelsey Group (TKG) just released their 2008 Local Media trends. They believe 2008 will be a pivotal year for the global Yellow Pages industry. Here are the highlights:

  • Print local media: TKG wonders if the directory business will continue to be as recession-proof as it used to be, as more ROI-driven online local ad products are launched. For large US urban areas, they also talk about the creation of print opt-out plans, important market rescoping and the launching of new directory formats. They also expect higher cannibalization of traditional media sales, mostly from search engine click packages.

  • Online local media: 2008 is the year where user-generated content becomes a critical aspect of consumers’ decision-making process. Merchants will be widely invited to join that conversation as well. In addition, auto and real estate verticals will continue to develop in the local search context, new devices will lead to new sources of searches and local search inventory will increase drastically.

  • Sales: 2008 will continue to see the uphill struggle to build independent local sales channels.

  • ROI/Performance-based products: this year, we will see the beginning of the untethering of print and online usage and more use of robust ad reporting. TKG thinks that 2008 is the year where the promise of pay-per-call gets realized as multi-channel management becomes a critical success factor.

  • Verticalization: from a seller perspective, high ad spend categories will attract lots of sales competition from many different sources: SEO/SEM firms, newspapers, vertical sites, start-ups, etc. In national sales, we will see more ad localization.

  • New products: Video, Mobile and Outdoor, with a mention that “video is where the immediate action is”.

You can find the Praized blog’s 2008 predictions here.

What it means: As a regular attendee of Kelsey Conferences, I am usually well aware of most of the local media trends but there are a couple of surprises in there for me. First, the creation of opt-out programs for print directories in some US markets. I did not realize the pressure was high on US publishers to create these mechanisms. The second one is Outdoor as a new product. I wasn’t aware that local media companies were looking actively to sell “outdoor” products. In my mind, it’s the kind of interesting opportunity that’s always discussed but is never “low-hanging fruit” enough to execute. Will be interesting to follow. I also like the call to disconnect print and online usage. TKG was the first organization to warn directory companies not to couple print and online value for too long (back in 2001-2002). What they’re saying is: there used to be a time where bundling print and online usage was useful to sell but online is now strong enough to sell on its own.

How to SEO Local Video Advertising

Weblistic logo

I recently attended a short webinar from Weblistic, my friend Dick Larkin’s company. Weblistic helps SMEs generate more local leads from a very fragmented Web. They have not revealed too much about their secret sauce but yesterday, they showed how successful they were when search engine optimizing local video ads.

Their first assumption is that search engines are going to integrate video content within their universal search results. Google has already started to do so. Video is also a very fragmented market and opportunities to be found abound. Weblistic is placing bets on all major video sites and has created accounts at most of them. They use the “localvidsdotnet” handle on a variety of social video sites like YouTube, Yahoo Video, Guba, iFilm, and stickam. They then upload their local advertising videos and tag them with a variety of relevant keywords. Videos start appearing in the Google search engine results pages. In this example, Weblistic has managed to capture 7 of the top 10 positions for their merchant name. Cool isn’t it?

What it means: in a fragmented world, there will always be a business opportunity to defragment and simplify. The local video market is a good case study. Weblistic seems to understand that concept and is hoping to simplify Web SEO/SEM for small businesses.

Residential Search is About to be Disrupted

On Monday, Yahoo Search launched improvements to their search engine including something they call the “search assist“. Like some other bloggers, I wasn’t too impressed until one of my friends showed me how you could use it in the context of people search.

If you do a search for my name on Yahoo and trigger the search assist, you can now see concepts associated with my name. The keywords Linkedin, Facebook, Robert Scoble, local search, social networks, blog archive, online media and product management appear in the search assist screen. As my public face on the web is mostly professional, all these keywords are bang on and offer a good representation of who I am on the web:

Linkedin: I’m a heavy Linkedin user and the site has a great SEO strategy.

Facebook: I’ve blogged about Facebook a lot during the summer and some of my ideas had big impacts in the blogosphere.

Local search and social networks: my job and what I blog about.

Online media and product management: my job.

Robert Scoble: I discovered what Robert was doing with Facebook and blogged about it, creating an important Web meme.

Yahoo Search Assist

The people-search site Spock uses tags to convey the same kind of related information. Unfortunately, on a search for my name, the info is much more limited as it comes only from my Linkedin profile. It misses a large portion of my other online activities, most notably the blogging.

Spock

What it means: structured business data has always been the bread and butter of the directory industry but most publishers have put their residential search function on the side, not really caring about it. Be careful! Residential or people search is a great traffic driver into your ecosystem of web sites and many people are after that traffic. By introducing structured people search, Yahoo, Spock and others are making it much more relevant. Residential search is about to be disrupted.

Marchex’s Bill Day: It’s the Right Time for Investments in Local

As an interesting segue to my VoiceStar/Marchex blog post from last week, MediaPost offers an interview with Bill Day, their new Chief Media Officer in which he talks about the importance of local for Marchex. “Kaufman Brothers analyst Sameet Sinha questioned the company’s heavy investment in local search at this moment, after the announcement it would buy pay-per-call ad provider VoiceStar. It happened to be the first official day at work for new Chief Media Officer Bill Day, most recently at WhenU, but also a co-founder of About.com and one of the online pioneers of the ’80s at Prodigy. He was nothing but optimistic about the opportunity for local.”

Highlights:

Q: Why is the time right now for local? When we did it at About.com, it was too early. The interest area was the place to invest. Things have changed. First of all, many more people use the Internet. If you want to have a pro-sumer model, you need one that scales to be very comprehensive. Marchex is a leader. It already has thousands and thousands and thousands of sites. You also need a model that can get really really deep within those localities. I did a lot of diligence coming in and with the Yellow Pages advertisers now coming on, it suggests it really is a good time to invest in local. You have to invest to reap the rewards.

Q: What is the first thing you’ll do in your new job? The first thing is to focus on the continued rollout of our open list technology populating businesses down to the ZIP code level (editor’s note: e.g. 90210.com). I’m also talking to media companies in the local space. There’s a lot of business development I need to do to get the ball rolling.

Q: Who is doing local right? There are certainly sites that get parts of it right. I can’t point to one network that gets it right consistently. I don’t know anything countrywide. The sites that tend to do that are using very stale and automated generic content that is not good enough to get repeat visitation. I’ve looked at some of the WashingtonPost.com sites, what Sidewalk’s done for Digital Cities. We’re in a pretty open space for starting to do things that haven’t been done so far on the net–to truly create a broad, deep network of sites.

What it means: Marchex believes online revenue action in the future will happen on the local and hyperlocal front. They’ve acquired web real estate (local URLs) and local content. They have solid search engine optimization (SEO) expertise and they now want to introduce user-generated content. Using all of these tools, they’re building a large-scale local ad network. The only thing I would question is the quality of traffic coming from SEO, as not all clicks are born equal. Measuring ROI will become key when evaluating the quality of local search traffic but, as I believe a good chunk of the revenues in local will happen around pay-per-call in the next 5-10 years, the acquisition of VoiceStar makes complete sense strategically. That’s a great way to measure and prove local search ROI.