Humans, not computers, are driving searches, and search engine marketing should consistently remember that.
Despite the plethora of optimization tools and widgets, content and the human touch are king in the eyes of search engine marketing, a majority of the speakers at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM: 09 pre-conference panel said today.
In a session entitled “Local Search Marketing: Getting on the Map,” Panos Bethanis, CEO of local site optimizer DirectoryM, and Jeff Ferguson, local search engine Local.com online marketing senior director, both agreed that humans, not computers, are driving searches, and search engine marketing should consistently remember that.
“There’s a human touch and human intent behind every keyword search,” Bethanis said.
Bethanis’ DirectoryM helps sites marry local content with expert names, like localized insurance rates and data with marketing information firm J.D. Power.
Users are impatient and finicky, and any additional specific information provided about a local business or service will go along way to satisfy a person doing a local search, Bethanis said.
The search engine game is still trying to be consistently cracked, which might be that much more confusing for a local business to grab customers.
Ferguson likened the unknowns of getting listed first on Google’s search results to old maps that labeled unknown or unexplored areas as having monsters.
Sivan Metzger, general manager of Kenshoo Local, which automates search engine marketing services, also talked to the complexities of search engine marketing. Metzger parted ways with his fellow speakers somewhat, pushing for automation of search engine marketing in order to keep resources and labor costs in boosting search engine performance low.
The benefits for that boost are there, he said, as local businesses can’t necessarily track its return of investment through mailings, ads or coupons the way it can via the Internet.
The crown jewel for a local business on Google is to be placed in the search engine’s “7 pack,” which is a list of seven businesses, punctuated with a map, that are near the user. The data for the 7-pack, Ferguson said, is grabbed from anything online about those businesses, be it Web sites, blogs or social media content.
“The most important thing Google is looking for is content,” Ferguson said regarding getting high organic placement on the search engine’s search results.
Ferguson suggested business owners make any online content they provide their own, and avoid canned material that may already be well saturated online. He added that targeting all content to the local audience is especially important. A Phoenix company that removes radon should provide content about radon in the Phoenix area, not just radon in general, he said.
Ferguson also said one shouldn’t rely solely on a computer to produce all of the search keywords a company might use to increase its placement on Google.
“Get the humans involved,” Ferguson said. “Just don’t bow to the tools.”