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Google+ Local, formerly Google Places, is a valuable resource for any retailer looking to use the web to drive offline sales.
In a nutshell, it allows businesses to create a listing (via a Google+ page) which will appear next to relevant, especially local, search results.
As more people use smartphones to search for local businesses, a well optimised Google+ Local listing is an essential.
This is something I covered in our recent How the Internet can Save the High Street report.
Here's why offline businesses should be creating a listing...
Google recently introduced Business Photos, which uses the same tech as Street View, and allows shops, restaurants and other businesses to provide virtual tours of their premises.
These tours are then shown in Google Maps and local results, providing offline businesses with an opportunity to drive footfall into their locations.
I'll look at how business can use these photos to drive footfall, and improve CTR, while I've also been asking Charles Mansfield-Osborne of StreetVisit, one of Google's 'Trusted Photographers', about the scheme.
Last week, Google announced that it would be changing the placement of PPC ads on some of its search results pages, moving them from the right hand side to the bottom of the page.
According to Google's blog post, moving the ads to the bottom means they 'fit better into the user's flow', and that this new placement improved average CTR.
I've been asking PPC professionals about what these changes mean...
Nichola Stott is founder and director of SEO and social media agency the media flow, and previously worked as head of UK commercial search partners at Yahoo!
We've been asking Nichola about the role of the PR in SEO, the merging of search and social media, and mobile and local search...
Nichola will also be looking into the future of search in her presentation at Econsultancy's Future of Digital Marketing event in London on June 15.
30% of companies are using local search as a marketing tool, while a further 21% plan to do so in future, according to Econsultancy's latest UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report.
The report, based on an online survey of more than 600 client-side digital marketers and agencies, was produced in association with Guava.
Here are a few highlights from the report...
Remember when the world was young and finding a copy of your book on Fly Fishing meant hours crawling through the local yellow pages or trusting to luck that ‘Six Gun’ Tex McCain was really a reliable plumber?
Thankfully these days we have the magic of the internet, where anyone can have a fully functional, great looking site for their local business.
Unfortunately this does leave smaller business or individual users with a problem: How are you going to market your site?
There’s a mountain of marketing guides out there, but there is a tendency to assume you’re trying to build a multinational media empire. If you’re just trying to get a few extra people through the door of your cake shop then a lot of this advice really isn’t going to be suitable.
Having a great LinkedIn network is fine, but are those international jet-setters really going to stop at your small Hardware Shop?
If you’re trying to raise localised traffic it can be hard to know where to start, and let’s be honest, if your site isn’t in the top ten when someone Googles ‘Launderette, Stevenage‘ then there’s no point in having a site. So let’s see what you can do to get yourself a decent search ranking...
Think senior citizens aren't using the Web to research and buy products? Tim Pelton did. Tim is a sales manager for Bedco Mobility, a company that sells and services products such as wheelchair stair lifts in the Baltimore/Washington DC corridor. For close to 100 years, Bedco advertised in local newspapers and yellow pages.
But calls and leads were dropping precipitously.
Bedco has a website, but never attempted online marketing because the thinking at the company was that senior citizens just plain weren't online. Wrong. The 70-75 year old age bracket is one of the fastest-growing segments of the online population, according to the Pew Center for the Internet and American Life. In 2005, 25 percent of them used the Internet. Last year, 45 percent went online. Older surfers use the Web primarily for searches for things such as health information, e-mail, and buying products.
Search engine marketing is big business. But when it comes to serving small, local businesses, SEM providers in all parts of the SEM food chain appear to have some big problems.
That's according to a study conducted by Borrell Associates, which looked at SEM amongst local businesses.
Local listings and reviews websites should be well suited to the mobile internet, as the kind of information they offer can be incredibly useful when out and about and looking for somewhere to eat, or some local entertainment.
There are a few sites like Tipped, Yell.com which have dedicated mobile versions of their services, but two such websites have launched iPhone apps, which offer a richer experience than the standard mobile sites. I have been trying out two iPhone listings apps; Qype Radar and Yelp...
US listings and review website Yelp, already a big success in the US, launched a UK version this week, which covers the London area and a number of other major UK cities.
There are a few local listings sites in the UK already: Trusted Places, welovelocal, Tipped and Yell.com all offer similar sites with local business listings and user reviews, so how does Yelp's offering measure up?