Archive for the ‘Small Business Web Strategies’ Category

Dec
21

Location-Based Advertising with Augmented Reality

Small Business Web Strategies 2 comments

I know the title above sounds somewhat Blade Runner-esque…but bear with me. I’ll explain.

Today location-based online advertising revolves around services like Google AdWords, which allow you to set a target local area for your ads (so you — the Florida-based mechanic — can make sure your ad for ‘Auto Mechanics’ only appears to people searching for auto mechanics in the Tampa Bay area, but not to people in Boise, Idaho). If you’re a local business (such as an attorney or a house painter), targeting your specific location with your ads is a very smart idea.

But things on the web are always changing, and Augmented Reality is the new kid on the block.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)? Basically, it’s a class of technologies that place data from the web on top of a camera view of the physical world. So when you view your surroundings with a camera, you can see annotations to the places in your view as you move the camera around. All thanks to the GPS features of new digital cameras and camera phones.

So picture an application from Yelp.com that allows you to stand on a busy city block, turn on your phone’s camera, and see which nearby restaurant in your field of view gets the best reviews. With AR, it’s possible.

Brightkites Best Buy ads. Terminator, eat your heart out.

But that’s just the beginning.

Today location-based social network Brightkite announced it has partnered with Best Buy to run Augmented Reality ads in the Brightkite iPhone & Android app. In what is supposedly the first AR advertising solution in the U.S., Brightkite will display markers for nearby Best Buy locations in images from its social network.

As Marshall Kirkpatrick at RWW points out, the world of AR advertising is brand new, but the idea has a long way to go. For instance, currently the Best Buy markers appear at all times, even when users search for things completely unrelated to Best Buy. In the modern world of highly-targeted ads, this sort of irrelevant advertising won’t do.

But still, imagine the possibilities of being able to serve up a special offer to a potential customer who’s looking for your products and services – and is within sight of your business. As Augmented Reality features are added to more devices, that sort of geotargeted advertising should be just around the corner.

Kipp Chambers
Sr. Internet Marketing Specialist

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Dec
19

Google + Yelp = Local Search Powerhouse

Small Business Web Strategies 2 comments
Google Hearts Yelp

Yesterday evening, the rumor mill churned to life when TechCrunch broke a monstrous story – that Google is in final negotiations to purchase Yelp.com. Today the blogosphere lit up with commentary, from tech pundits like Robert Scoble to everyday-life bloggers like LifeHacker. Of course, nothing has been confirmed yet – but even if you don’t know both companies well, the sheer number of people talking about it have to tell you something. This is huge.

For those of you who don’t know, Google’s Local Business Center allows businesses of all sizes to create and edit their listing on Google Maps. Yelp, on the other hand, is a site that focuses on user reviews of local businesses. It has a much more social tone to it, as users interact and give feedback to each other as well as hair stylists, art supply stores and other local companies. Both are important ways that potential customers can find you.

At Everon, we advise our clients to build up a presence on sites like Yelp and Google Maps – becoming established on both can lead to increased website, phone and foot traffic.

So Why is This Important?

Mike Blumenthal’s thoughts on the potential Google-Yelp acquisition give a lot of insight into why this should matter to you. Mike talks about how he uses both sites. He sees Google Maps as being more for ‘recovery’ – finding a place that you already know about, such as when you’re looking for the nearest Starbucks. Just whip out the iPhone and a few keystrokes later, you’ve got its address and directions how to get there.

Yelp, on the other hand, is more for discovery – because of the large number of user reviews, people go to it when they’re looking for, say, an auto mechanic. They decide to try one out based on reviews from people they trust.

Now, I’m not sure that I agree that Google Maps doesn’t allow for discovery – just the other day, I found a new pizza place by typing ‘Pizza Denver’ into Google. (Although I might have found a better place had I used Yelp).

Regardless, it’s tough not to see what an impact these two companies merging would have. By acquiring Yelp, Google can fill out its listings with a ton of user reviews, and further solidify itself as the online-yellow-pages-of-choice.

How Can You Take Advantage?

Your company should make sure you’re listed. You should also set up a program to encourage your customers to give you online reviews. If you build this out now, by the time anything happens with Google and Yelp, you’ll already be far ahead of your competition when someone is looking for your product.

(And if the merger is just another rumor that doesn’t happen, you’ll still be far ahead of the game.)

Kipp Chambers
Sr. Internet Marketing Specialist

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Dec
01

Video captioning catches hold

Small Business Web Strategies 1 comment

youtube_logoLast week, Google dropped another bomb on the Search Engine Optimization world – automatic captioning in YouTube videos.

Captioning in online video is nothing new – YouTube has offered captions in their videos since 2006. But as anyone who’s ever uploaded a video can tell you, the manual-captioning process is cumbersome and time-consuming.

The new auto-captioning feature aims to change all that. Now you can simply upload your video to YouTube and allow Google’s speech-recognition technology (the same stuff Google Voice uses to transcribe your voicemails and email them to you) to do the work for you.

Why is this important?

First off, captioning obviously makes your video content accessible to those who are hearing-impaired. Since auto-captioning will ultimately aim to caption all videos on YouTube, its addition will give those who are hearing-impaired access to an incredible library of video content that many of us take for granted.

But that’s not all – auto-capping videos will have a tremendous effect on search engine optimization.

Currently, videos are very tough to optimize for search engines, because they’re not ‘machine-readable.’ To put it simply, a computer can read the code for a video, but it can’t translate that to understand exactly what the content is saying.

By automatically adding captions to your videos, however, Google, Yahoo! and other search engines can ‘read’ the video’s captions and index them as they would any other web page. Check out the video link below to see it in action:

Automatic Captions in YouTube Demo

The implications for SEO are mind-boggling. Video is already used as a part of many internet marketing efforts, but auto-captioning will make video marketing incredibly more effective. Companies looking to take advantage of this opportunity will find it much more important to produce and optimize quality video content, just as they would their website. And those that do will see great rewards in the form of increased website traffic and broader reach to potential customers.

There’s just one catch.

Auto-captioning isn’t available yet (well, not to everyone). Google is rolling it out to a few select partner channels to start, but plans to bring it to the masses in the near future (once a few more bugs are ironed out).

For the rest of us, they’ve also launched a feature called “automatic caption timing” which makes it easier to add captions manually. You simply upload a transcript of the video, and Google’s speech recognition technology will figure out when each word is spoken in the video, then use that info to add accurate captions.

(Sure, it’s not ideal…but it certainly makes adding captions easier.)

In the meantime, if you aren’t already promoting your services via online video, you should consider investing in a video camera and starting your own channel on YouTube, Vimeo, MetaCafe or any of the other video search engines. The video camera doesn’t need to be crazy-expensive – you can even start your efforts on a shoestring budget with a Flip Mino if you like.

The key is to get started now – as soon as automatic captioning is rolled out to the rest of us, those who already have substantial video content will be best-poised to take advantage of it.

Here’s some tips to get you started. Happy shooting!

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Nov
19

For brokers, real estate booms online

Small Business Web Strategies No comments

A recent article in the Denver Business Journal (subscription required) points out that a growing number of Denver-area commercial real estate brokers are using Craigslist to market their listings.

That’s right. Craigslist.org, the San Francisco-based online classified listing service, is no longer just a place for college students to find cheap furniture. It’s now proven itself to be an extremely effective tool for marketing both residential and commercial real estate across the world.

It’s not surprising, really – as people grow more confident with technology, online shopping continues to experience explosive growth.

Forrester Research’s annual Holiday Retail Forecast projects that US online holiday retail sales will be up 8% this year, and a recent census bureau report showed this year’s ecommerce sales growth outpacing brick-and-mortar sales by 10%. In a slumping economy, online shopping is still going strong.

Additionally, the latest generation of homebuyers and small business owners grew up with the internet at their fingertips. While nothing can replace the effectiveness of a customer seeing a property in person, those Realtors who embrace internet marketing are much more likely to catch their attention.

And that’s where Craigslist comes in. It’s a simple way to reach a demographic that you won’t find on Loopnet, CoStar, or any of the other commercial real estate listing services (but an increasingly-qualified demographic, nonetheless).

And the best part – real estate listings are entirely free (with the exception of brokered apartment listings in New York, which require a $10 fee).

Of course, as a commercial real estate broker, it’s not enough just to throw up an ad on Craigslist. It should be just one part of a comprehensive internet marketing strategy. Twitter, Facebook, and email marketing are all excellent ways to build relationships with clients and promote your business. And an optimized website is crucial for advertising your services and capturing leads.

But given its incredible potential for ROI, Craigslist should definitely be a part of any residential or commercial Realtor’s internet marketing arsenal.

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Nov
19

Small businesses can S.L.E.E.P. their way to the top of search engine rankings!

Small Business Web Strategies 1 comment

Want to generate more leads for your business? Our friends over at Kutenda suggests you S.L.E.E.P. on it!

Getting good search engine rankings is a big mystery to most small businesses.  This isn’t without reason, as Google and the other search engines aren’t exactly forthcoming with information about how you can get in their good graces, and a variety of shady service providers have been peddling their cloak and dagger search engine optimization secrets to vulnerable small businesses for years – whether they actually worked or not.

I think the folks at Kutenda can bring some clarity to what it takes to be successful in the search engines.

Join the Kutenda team on Dec 2nd for the first of their webinar series: S.L.E.E.P. Your Way to the Top of Google’s Search Results.

http://kutenda.com/webinar_seo_sleep.html

Intended for small-business owners and marketers, the series will cover best practices, tips and tricks for driving qualified consumer traffic to your web site.

Throughout the three sessions, Kutenda’s very own director of online marketing, James Omdahl, will discuss keyword research, on-page optimization and link-building strategies with a focus on generating inbound leads online.

Attendees will receive checklists created by Kutenda online marketing specialists to help you begin optimizing for your business immediately.

The first session is Dec 2nd at 2pm EST so reserve your spot today.
Check out http://kutenda.com/webinar_seo_sleep.html for info on all 3 session.

Everyone’s invited – pass on the word!

Mike Cooch
CEO
Everon Technology Services, LLC

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