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YellowPages Search Marketing Case Study

 

I have been critical of big service providers handling of PPC campaign for small and medium sized business and have compiled this on ReachLocal PPC a while ago which was mentioned in Wall Street Journal.

I am not particularly happy with the way YellowPages run paid advertising campaign and found their keyword targeting to be inconsistent and irrelevant. I have analysed 69 PPC campaign for small businesses ran by YellowPages and found significant evidence to back this.

I have used data sources from one of the best PPC monitoring company to find historical PPC data over last 12 months to determine all the keywords was targeted for that given period of time. To summarise my finding I can see this ad campaign was mastered to avoid targeting suburbs they are based on Acacia Ridge, Tingalpa and suburbs nearby in favour of suburbs/cities up to 35KM’s away!!  Good luck making those people to drive at least 35 minutes to get to a (local) Chiropractor.

This article only covered keyword target issue only; I hope to write another article near future to discuss few more things.

Case Study:

Website: http://www.acacia-belmontchiro.com.au/index.html

Location 1:

Acacia Ridge
Phone: 3255 6200
Address: Shop 2/14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110

Location 2:

Belmont
Phone: 3890 5300
Address: 21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173

All Keyword targeted for last 12 Months (according to our data source):

Keyword
chiropractor brisbane
osteopath brisbane
chiropractor browns plains
chiropractor ipswich
chiropractor hamilton
brisbane chiropractor
chiropractor windsor
chiropractors brisbane
chiropractor beenleigh
chiropractor north brisbane
brisbane osteopath
chiropractor indooroopilly
chiropractor chermside
chiropractic for neck pain
brisbane chiropractors
chiropractor melton
chiropractor wynnum
chiropractors in brisbane

 

Have a quick look at what sort of money YellowPages would be investing on advertising on keywords to potentially low converting leads:  

Keyword Suggested bid
chiropractor brisbane  $                  7.43
osteopath brisbane  $                  7.69
chiropractor browns plains  $                  2.29
chiropractor ipswich  $                  3.69
brisbane chiropractor  $                  7.31
chiropractor windsor  $                  1.83
chiropractors brisbane  $                  4.75
chiropractor beenleigh  $                  2.56
chiropractor north brisbane  $                  4.21
brisbane osteopath  $                  7.69
chiropractor indooroopilly  $                  4.13
chiropractor chermside  $                  2.36
brisbane chiropractors  $                  3.13
chiropractor wynnum  $                  2.11
chiropractors in brisbane  $                  7.38

 

Proximity of Suburbs / City Being Targeted

 

Belmont:

JOURNEY FROM JOURNEY TO KM Travelled
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 Brisbane,QLD 13
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 Beenleigh, QLD 32
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 wynnum, QLD 7
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 ipswich, QLD 56
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 chermside, QLD 18
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 browns Plains, QLD 27
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 indooroopilly, QLD 23
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 hamilton, QLD 10
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 windsor, QLD 15
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 North brisbane, QLD 13
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 melton, QLD 12

 

Acacia Ridge:

JOURNEY FROM JOURNEY TO KM Travelled
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Brisbane,QLD 15
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Beenleigh, QLD 28
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 wynnum, QLD 31
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 ipswich, QLD 33
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 chermside, QLD 24
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 browns Plains, QLD 10
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 indooroopilly, QLD 14
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 hamilton, QLD 21
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 windsor, QLD 18
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 North brisbane, QLD 15
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 melton, QLD 24

Nearest Suburbs:

Acacia Ridge – Coopers Plains, Archerfield, Willawong, Durack, Algester, Doolandella

JOURNEY FROM JOURNEY TO KM Travelled
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Coopers Plains, QLD 5
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Archerfield, QLD 3
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Willawong, QLD 3
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Durack, QLD 6
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Algester, QLD 4
14 Elizabeth St, Acacia Ridge QLD 4110 Doolandella, QLD 6

 

Tingalpa – Gumdale, Carina, Murarrie, Wynnum West, Manly West

JOURNEY FROM JOURNEY TO KM Travelled
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 Gumdale, QLD 5
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 Carina, QLD 7
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 Murarrie, QLD 3
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 Wynnum West, QLD 3
21 Belmont Rd,Tingalpa QLD 4173 Manly West, QLD 4

 

It is quite hard for me to understand why a Local Chiropractor based on Acacia Ridge or Tingalpa will overlook suburbs stone throw away and trying to convert traffic up to 30KM’s away. I am not sure how keyword targeting with YellowPages search engine advertising works and who is responsible to select the keywords. However my assumption would be given the size and nature of the business YellowPages deal with, it will be their responsibilities to ensure optimum keyword targeting. I have seen similar (and worse in many instances) data across all 69 sites I have analysed.

If you want access to all raw data from all the sites we have analysed, send me an email on ferdous@conio.com.au

 

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Interesting Stats from Moz Blog Data from 2005 to 2013

MOZ has been a big name in Search and Inbound marketing for almost 10 years now. I thought it would be interesting to see some stats from their main blog over last nine years. I believe this data will be helpful for start-ups to understand how much of a work gone into building a great brand like MOZ.

 

no-posts

comments

top-authors

# Rand Fishkin wrote 1,746 articles himself, almost 200 blog post per year!!!

likes

dislikes

like-author

dislikes-au

pr

# PageRank update was less frequent in 2012-2013.

tl

hl

ul

 

Hope you guys like it.

 

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What ReachLocal is Hiding From You?

Digging Deep Into ReachLocal PPC Campaigns

One company made me very curious recently that is ReachLocal. We manage a client who also happens to use ReachLocal to manage their Paid Search Campaign for a while now. As their organic marketing company we have been asking to see keywords ReachLocal targeting for a while (we do have a lot of use of that keyword data as it gives us a great view on all keywords where data is not being encrypted) without any luck. So ReachLocal has a policy not to share data on keywords they are targeting and I found that quite disturbing. From small or medium business point of view spending excess to 20K per year and without knowing what keywords they are targeting is quite hard to make sense of. However it appears to me that lots of businesses are comfortable with this as ReachLocal made $455M in revenue for year 2012 and predicted to make over half a billion in year 2013.

My client spend around $1600 (Australian $) per month with ReachLocal and received 3,422 visits on average per month. So CPC would be $0.41 (considering $200 account management fee) which is quite low considering keywords my client would be targeting.

keywords
Before going into my finding I should give you folks a little introduction to my client, my client is a family owned and operated tyre & mechanical workshop based on Southport, Gold Coast, Australia. They do not have online shop they are mainly targeting areas surrounding southport (even targeting gold coast area is quite broad as people are reluctant to travel very far to purchase a set of tyres or wheels).
Here is a quick list of keywords my client might go for and as you can see average suggested bid is four times higher than they are spending (It might be even higher as these suggested bids is considerably lower than actual cost). This got me thinking and I have decided to find hidden keywords data to see what ReachLocal actually targeting for my client. After some research I was able to find a software that can track your PPC spending over a period of time and can provide us with a list of keywords were targeted. This data is not capturing 100% keywords but does have significant chunk of it.

southport-map

Target Suburbs:

  1. Southport
  2. Labrador
  3. Runway Bay
  4. Ashmore
  5. Molendinar
  6. Arundel

What ReachLocal is Targeting for them?

For last twelve months I have found that they have targeted around 125 keywords in their PPC campaign. Then I sort these keywords in two separate category call relevant and non-relevant. You might understand by now small business like my client should focus solely on target suburbs, however I have considered targeting “Gold Coast” still relevant and a lot of money been spent there.

 clicks

Where my client spent $16,800/annum ($1400 per month) so we can conclude $8,568 were spend to acquire clicks from non-relevant keywords and those are likely to be not qualified leads. See below for some examples of keywords considered as non-relevant but ReachLocal targeted them and spend money to acquire clicks.

 tag

QLD Capital city around 80KM north of Gold Coast, my client does to have any branch there, yet reach local have targeted 43 keywords (around 1/3 of total keywords).

other-keys

I have complied list of Keywords here (colour coded: Green- Relevant, Yellow – Not Relevant) so you can download this list and have a look for yourself. Also note that they are not targeting any adjacent suburbs (Labrador, Ashmore, Runway Bay) which remains ideal target market for my client.

Leads:

I have noticed significant flaw on the method reach local report their lead generation performance. For Example during August – September reach local is claiming to generate 167 telephone calls for my client. After analysing the data carefully I have found:

These calls (18 calls) should not be listed as leads!

calls

From the graph below we can see 47% calls were from landline (where we can see caller’s location). Given that our target market is Gold Coast region we can see 23% calls out of this 47% land line calls came from locations they are not targeting. We would assume (assuming Target : Non-Target  ratio remains the same for mobile calls) 50% of calls are coming from areas they are not targeting (Cairns, Ipswich, Brisbane etc.)

call-type

So actual (qualified) leads might be less than half of reported leads. I am doing more research on these and hope to find more inconstancy in these calls data.

I have done similar research on a number of businesses (not my clients) and found similar trend (and sometimes worse).

# Please note this post was written based on data from third party (however the company is one of the most trustworthy keyword data sources available) software. And the intention nehind writing this post is not “outing” ReachLocal. I believe all the small and medium businesses making an marketing investment on PPC campaigns via ReachLocal deserve to know this and forward to their local search marketing consultants at ReachLocal.

I was contacted by David Eddy form ReachLocal Australia, See his response below via Google Plus:

Thanks for bringing this to my attention +James Norquay. I’d be happy to help clear up any concerns relating to+Ferdous Haider‘s blog post. Please excuse the long winded response, but I’d like to address this as best I can.

In response to Ferdous’ 3rd party analysis of the campaign in question:

I’m sure you’d agree that the relevance and geographical targeting in any SEM (or SEO) campaign is largely reliant on the effective communication between client & consultant/agency. Therefore, I’m unable to comment on any keyword or geo-targeting issues with this individual campaign without being privy to those conversations.

Internally, ReachLocal definitely do not condone the provision of poorly targeted or wasteful search campaigns. We’re trained and motivated to strive for the best possible results for our clients, so I really feel the article’s claims of ReachLocal ‘hiding’ things from their clients is misguided.

In regards to sharing keyword data with our clients:

We can and do share keyword insights with our clients on request. One of the reasons we don’t expose specific keyword data by default is because our platform is gathering valuable insights on the best converting keywords for our clients in a range of local markets and industries. These insights help to make ReachLocal a market leader and give our predominantly small to medium sized business clients a competitive edge. Especially when you consider Google’s recent moves to hide organic keyword data. Keyword insights for online search to offline conversion (i.e. Phone calls – the most common conversion path for most SMBs) are becoming extremely valuable. Making that data freely available could potentially expose our Intellectual Property to competing PPC agencies and affect our client’s competitive edge in the future.

To be honest though, the majority of our clients aren’t concerned which keywords are driving traffic to their site. They’re busy running their businesses and just want to see what really matters – Measurable results. They want to see strong return on their ad spend.
ReachLocal provide clients with complete reporting transparency on the metrics that matter, such as recorded phone call data and online
conversion tracking.

The keyword targeting, bidding, click thru rates etc are for us to worry about as consultants.

Personally, the responsibility of making sure clients’ campaigns are running efficiently & generating strong ROI is what keeps me up some nights and I know the vast majority of my colleagues at ReachLocal in Newcastle & around Australia share the same care for their clients.

In regards to your call reporting question Ferdous – Our clients can login to our reporting platform and see all of their call data at any time.
Which calls go unanswered, call durations and call duplicates etc. Not to mention the fact that each call is voice recorded for clients to review at any time. How could we be any more transparent?

You make a great point James – There are too many SEO & PPC agencies out there who take advantage of small-medium businesses, when in fact the small guys are the ones who need our support the most. A small-medium business can ill-afford wasted ad dollars.
In my experience dealing with Australian small businesses, you do feel a sense of personal responsibility for clients because in many cases you’re the only marketing support they have. If you screw up their online marketing, it could cripple their entire business. (This responsbility also translates into great satisfaction when you’re producing results that help your clients grow and succeed online)

I can say with confidence & from personal experience that ReachLocal are a company who absolutely understand the importance of this responsibility. Everybody from the CEOs down to the sales & support staff really do share a genuine care for their clients’ success online.

Ferdous, my recommendation for your client would be to contact their local consultant to discuss ways to adjust his/her campaign where needed.

If anybody has any further questions, I’m happy to discuss offline – You can call me on +61401560404

Have a great day!

P.S. Why are we all discussing work stuff on a Saturday? ;-P

See My Response Below:

+David Addy I would like to thank you for taking your time and post a detailed explanation on where ReachLocal stands to address my concerns.

You have said “relevance and geographical targeting in any SEM (or SEO) campaign is largely reliant on the effective communication between client & consultant/agency.” So I understand you are trying to communicate here that my client was trying to spend their marketing budget on locations they don’t offer their services to? And they also wanted ReachLocal to advertise to terms like “Van Rental” and “Gold Coast Magazine”? I know this as fact they never communicated this to their local consultant yet ReachLocal used around half of the campaign budget over multiple years to target these keywords. It is quite hard to understand what communication could help here.

You have mentioned that I am “Misguiding” my readers by saying ReachLocal is hiding information for his clients, which I strongly disagree. You are hiding most important “Keyword” data. I strongly believe your client deserve to know what keywords you are targeting for them. I am not telling ReachLocal to make this data “Freely available” but should be provided within your reporting framework. And also I am not quite certain what “Keyword Insight” actually is as we never seen any data related to “Keywords” on request in multiple occasion for multiple clients.

Regarding number of leads reported in your reporting you and me both know leads are only valuable when they have at least some merits (qualified leads). All I hear from client is we have spent $1600 and received 170 leads last month so cost per lead is $9.40 (Great!) which can’t be right (given all these calls being abandoned and people calling from place you will never sell your product to ). Also everyone knows how web savvy these SMB clients are to dig deep into your report to find these inconsistencies.

Your advice on contacting local consultant and get my clients campaign on track is laughable. They have been running this campaign for over two years wasting all their money and now found all these (no credit to ReachLocal) just to advice your consultant to fix this is quite high expectation from ReachLocal. Yes my client contacted ReachLocal but not to fix these issues but to cancel her account (and yet need to continue her campaign with ReachLocal for another couple of months just to satisfy your contract needs! Joking Right!!)

I hope this is an exception (however I had looked at 3 other sites and found similar results) from ReachLocal. I have a list of over 500 clients managed by ReachLocal in Australia and I will go through few more sites to get a clearer picture and will let you all know soon.

 

Reply from +David Addy

thanks for your reply.

As I stated – Having no knowledge of the campaign
in question, I’m unable to comment on it. (I’m unable to comment on
any other ReachLocal campaigns on a public forum for that matter.)

In relation to your comment “So I understand you are trying to communicate here that my client was trying to spend their marketing budget on locations they don’t offer services to?” – NO. That is not at all what I was trying to communicate. I was trying to communicate the fact that keyword relevance and geographical targeting are largely reliant
on communication between client and consultant.

That’s it.
Zero reference to your specific client.
I don’t know your client – remember?

Even if I did know the client I wouldn’t be discussing their campaign details on a public forum like this.

I absolutely believe that everybody is entitled to have an opinion and I
do respect your beliefs around the keyword data…it just seems we share a different view on what reporting metrics are important for SMB’s.

In relation to your plans to analyse other ReachLocal campaigns:

I’m not sure what you’re trying to achieve there… If you go out and analyse enough of a company’s products or services, you’re bound to find a handful of issues or poor experiences. Especially with large companies, due to the sheer size of their customer base.

Examples:

Apple – I’m sure if I tested 1000 iPods I’d find a few with bugs.
Google – Just this  morning I found a 404 error from a broken link within
a Google+ verification process. Happens all the time.
My local fruit n veg shop – One of my bananas was rotten on the inside last week! :-P

My point here is that in my experience, ReachLocal are definitely not a company that condones campaign issues like the ones mentioned in your blog post. Errors happen, they can be fixed with effective communication.

Personally, I really don’t feel that digging around for issues with other ReachLocal campaigns is going to prove anything significant, except that maybe you have too much time on your hands.

Anyway, I’m done spending my time on this case online. If anybody has any questions or concerns please feel free to give me a buzz on +61401560404.

Thanks again,

Dave

 

My Response:

+David Eddy  Apple example might not be relevant as I have analysed 4 of your campaign and found same pattern (I bet you bought more than one banana to find one rotten)! About my professional life and time availability,  I have to say I do have a lot (of time) to do this type of research.

 

 

 

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There are few data available out there to understand the correlation between Google Ranking and how optimised your on page and off-page elements are. However I have struggled to find any Australian research data to see how this works in google.com.au. I have done some research on this and see the results below.
  • Total Keywords: 2,233 (Generic high traffic yielding keywords with few high value localised terms)
  • Industry: Holiday, Car, Entertainment, Finance
I have found that big brands still dominating on high traffic keywords and most of the pages ranked are well optimised with high value contents. If you have the miss-conception that ranking on google.com.au is easier for high traffic earning keywords this data will clear the fog for you.
 word
Sites ranking in top ten on google.com.au has more than 1,525 words of contents at least on an average.
domain
You will need a fair number of linking domains if you are trying to rank on first page for google.com.au
index
Most of the domains has over 4K pages indexed by Google, this indicates that these domains are of high quality and producing good amount of contents.
meta
Shorter meta-description tend to do better!
page
Most of the pages ranked on first page on google.com.au are between 125-150 KB
 citation trust
CitationFlow and TrustFlow metrics by majesticseo correlates quite well with ranking in google.com.au
 pagerank
PageRank still has best correlation with rankings in google.com.au, and you still need quite high PageRank to rank better.
 external
Top ranked sites are giving a good number of external links and it’s not hurting their rankings.
title
All these sites have quite well optimised title tags (length, structure etc.)
h1
Most of these sites are using H1 quite well.
So we can see big brands are still doing great, however they leverage on high quality contents and well optimised on and offsite elements. For smaller business you still need to utilise long tail keywords well and keep producing good quality content on a regular basis. Also having onsite elements well optimised is a must!
Let me know if any of you like to play with my data, just send me an email to ferdous@ferdoushaider.com or tweet@haiderferdous, I will send you complete raw data.
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Organic Search Marketing for Small business

Small business and SEO

I have dealt with a number of small and medium businesses over last few years and found massive interest surge on organic search marketing. There were a common believe “SEO” is a silver bullet solution for all your organic search related problems, you can hire a “guru” and he will use some “Mantra” so you will be ranking all over the web overnight. There are many “SEO” companies all over the world still promising you top ranking at a very lucrative price by spinning article or changing meta tags on your site.

Let’s focus on if organic search marketing worth it for small businesses. Hubspot has done some great research to reveal average cost per lead on different marketing channels (outbound and inbound)

small-business-marketing

They have found inbound channels have 61% less cost per lead, and that’s huge. This can easily justify investing more on inbound channels. However to achieve desired results you need to have a well-structured inbound marketing campaign. I am not quite sure about other countries but the problem here in Australia is we do not have enough agencies offering great quality inbound marketing products for small business at a cost they can afford. I am not saying we don’t have great search marketing agencies here, but they are mainly targeting larger organisation (ideally paying over 50K a year). Companies with smaller budgets (5K – 30K a year) being approached by agencies doing more harm than good to their web presence. Let’s have a look at some of the product offering from some well-known (screenshots are taken from 1st page “seo companies” keyword search on Google from QLD location) SEO companies.

seo-spam

 

more-spam

off-site-spam

Fig: Evidence of spammy activities on proposed SEO campaign

It’s hard to believe establish agencies are offering these garbage as product mainly targeting small to medium businesses. It is the time to understand making your site visible on the web to acquire qualified leads is not going to happen with employing these agencies, you might see some short term traffic increase on back of these spammy tactics but likely be penalised by all major search engines for trying to manipulate the ranking algorithms.

A good organic search campaign will be well structured to address every aspects of your campaign which include Research, On-page optimisation, Local Search Optimisation, Off-page Optimisation, Performance optimisation and proper reporting. You can read my previous article on organic campaign structure here. I understand this is not easy to deliver all these on small budget however if your agency use the right tools and have strategies well-structured this campaign can be delivered to any small business on around 10K yearly budget and will deliver great sustainable results for your business.

I have been working long time now for enterprise clients and now I am using my experiences to build a number of process and tools to improve efficiency of small business organic search marketing to deliver similar organic search products only big enterprises been enjoying thus for. I have successfully deployed a number of process include Keyword Research and Mapping, Onsite and Link Audit, Reporting, where I was able to accelerated task completion time by 600% without compromising on quality. I am working on complete inbound marketing solution using my knowledge of organic marketing, leading data sources and tools and custom made tools exclusively tailored to deliver on my goals.

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