the frequency a kenny chung blog

It’s been a while since I’d been to an SEO meetup (it seems like all of the big players stopped running them), so I was delighted to see a great panel sponsored by Yext. There were a few good industry friends, as well as other talented folks. The full lineup was:

  • Mike King, Founder & Digital Marketing Consultant at
  • Matt Ramos, Product Manager at LocalVox
  • Rhea Drysdale, CEO at Outspoken Media
  • David Minchala, SEO Manager at Yodle

There was a ton of great information, especially about personas and personalization. Below is my liveTweet coverage of the meetup:

If you’re running a large agency that can’t write localized content for every region, it makes sense to broadly define which topics you should cover (either based on current performance or what the top ranking sites have) and then have subject matter experts write specific local content. This is far better than just repurposing the same content for every region.

Paid search can tell you very quickly if people are actually searching for a specific topic in a region.

Sometimes, curating content provides enough value for Google to rank your site well. However, you must, must, must provide some sort of value otherwise you risk duplicate content penalties.

Track users throughout their customer journey so you can better attribute eventual conversions. Each touchpoint should have specific goals that lead to the main site conversion. Optimizing for each touchpoint allows you to help move consumers along.

The above should actually say “consumer life cycle”. Depending on your industry, you may want to track users throughout their anticipated cycle of use to see when potential dropoffs occur.

Browser fingerprints allow you to identify specific users, or specific subsets of users. If you track specific groups over time and set page values, it will help you refine your conversion path and user goals.

This is a good one. If your client doesn’t know what their KPIs should be, find out what their boss is judged on, and start from there. Very good advice for any type of marketing initiative.

Three of the four panelists agreed that the next big thing in SEO is personalization. Google will be able to show and tell you what you need before you tell them. Google Now is an example of this.

November 25th, 2011
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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This blog post will be (somewhat) in the spirit of food!

It’s no secret that I love Yelp. I love utilizing crowdsourced reviews as a baseline filter for whether or not to visit/spend money somewhere. I love writing my own opinions and mingling with community members. And I love the community itself. The events they throw for Elite members are awesome, and they’re investments back into the system.

It’s such a simple formula. You’d think that a huge behemoth like Google would be able to replicate success with its own Google Places, right? Well, you’d be surprised. I think that Google Places will never have a chance to beat Yelp at their own game, given what they’ve been doing.

Now, this is not a rant against the Google NYC team. I love following them on Twitter and we’ve had some friendly (and not so friendly) exchanges. This is me pointing out the flaw of their incentive structure. Here’s an excerpt from a contest they’re running in conjunction with a recent event:

Google Places Contest RulesGoogle Places has a really, really bad incentive system (click to enlarge)

So what’s my issue with how Google Places is building its community? It’s mostly extrinsically motivated (see my blog post on Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation in Crowdsourcing). The more you review, the more likely it is that you win a prize? That works against Google in two ways – firstly, you won’t convince the truly passionate reviewers (the ones who do it to help others, or because they really love writing about local businesses) because you’re not concentrating on them; instead, you’re going for the low hanging fruit: the people who will say, “sure, I’ll write a review in exchange for a chance to win a Chromebook.” And like the pigeon pushing the lever with no pellets coming out, eventually those extrinsically motivated individuals will learn their lesson and give up, abandoning their Places account entirely. That’s not how you build a self-sustaining community.

Secondly, Google Places vs. Yelp will always be an us-versus-them scenario for the die-hards. People who have been following the Google vs. Yelp saga know that there’s bad blood between the two. To sum it all up:
1) Organic search reportedly supplies Yelp with a whopping 75% of its traffic.
2) When Google starting emphasizing their business pages in SERPs, they aggregated reviews from different sites including Yelp to provide their own “rating”. But they also overstepped their boundaries when Google took content directly from Yelp reviews and posted it on those pages, leaving users no reason to click through to Yelp.
3) Google was quiet on the local reviews front and then did a soft launch for Google Places in key cities.
4) Then, out of nowhere, Google bought Zagat.

If you follow the logical progression of things, it’s clear that Google wants to be a bigger player in the local space. Heck, just do a search for “dentist” and see how many results from your city show up. But Google is totally handling this the wrong way. Obviously, Zagat’s business model is in a totally different direction than Yelp’s, which makes me think Google might be taking the high-brow approach. But then again, crowdsourcing is the future of not only search, but of the internet as well (as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts) so it would be very silly for Google not to make a play in that space. That’s where Google Places would ideally fill the gap. However, I just don’t think they have a sound strategy to build up its review and user base to rival that of Yelp, and they’re just taking too many shortcuts.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if any other service can topple Yelp, it will take a lot of time and a much better plan than what Google’s employing.

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