Komodo Links: Widgets, Semantic Web, and Website Legal Liability

This week’s Komodo Links is all about variety. Everything from US law and websites to widgets and the semantic web. Check out the links and have a great weekend.

Greg Howlett wrote an interesting post over at Marketing Pilgrim about online retailer’s approach to social marketing and widgets. Take a look at the widgets we developed for Abrakadoodle.

Nick Berliner posted 5 tips for locally focused websites to connect to local customers. The five tips are basically 5 best practices that all locally focused websites should follow.

The CNET News Blog has a great post regarding some interesting legal cases and decisions that could have wide ranging affects on website operators’ broad legal shield from lawsuits.

“But a pair of recent rulings by federal district judges have chipped away at that protective shield. If those decisions are upheld on appeal, and if more judges follow suit, Web site operators and Internet service providers may find themselves compelled to police what their users post–or face the unsettling prospect of being held liable for the contents.”

The Economist has an informative article about some promising software services and initiatives to help online content publishers mark up their web pages for the semantic web.

YouTube Gives Insight Into Who Likes Your Videos

Yesterday YouTube announced the launch of Insight, a free tool that enables anyone with a YouTube account to view detailed statistics about the videos that they upload to the site. Currently Insight offers a few key metrics, including a breakdown of video views by geographic location, a video’s popularity in a market relative to other YouTube videos, and video popularity growth rates over a given period of time. The YouTube blog post also mentions that they will be releasing more features in the near future.

I think Insight can deliver significant value to small businesses and franchise companies that make use of YouTube videos to drive traffic to their site or locations. Even the Google Analytics Team is pumped up about it. As YouTube adds more features and metrics, businesses will be better able to gauge the ROI of online video production. One metric that the YouTube blog post mentions that should be rolled out “fairly quickly” is “a specific breakdown of how viewers discovered the video.” This metric alone will offer businesses and franchises great “insight” into how to title and describe future videos, as well as, what the subject matter should be. One specific case is the use of YouTube videos in Google Local business listings. Franchise companies with numerous locations that make use of business listing videos will be able to see which listings get the most video views. Perhaps people searching for their business in California watch the videos a lot more than people searching in Florida.

Let us know what you think of Insight.

Google Local: Add Videos to Your Business Listings

Another great reason to use YouTube for your business…

We logged into to the Google Local Business Center today to edit the listing for our search engine optimization company SEO Komodo. We were excited to see that Google now allows you to add up to 5 videos to a business listing. This feature is in the photos section of the listing editor. The videos must be on YouTube first but then it is as simple as adding the YouTube URL.

Motion pictures have existed for 100+ years. If you are not convinced of their power to shape human thought and emotion by now then I can’t help you. Your savvy competitors probably are. Why not beat them to the punch by adding a few nice videos to your Google Local business listings? When users are presented with a business listing that has video vs. one that doesn’t, guess which one gets clicked?

Video is a simple but extremely powerful medium for conveying large amounts of information in a short amount of time and with minimal effort by users. Adding video will truly engage users with your Google Local listings. With the rise of YouTube and other video based websites, businesses that could not afford TV commercials in the past are beginning to learn just how effective video can be for showcasing your location/products/services etc.

Uploading videos to YouTube is free and so is adding/editing your Google Local business listing.

If you haven’t made the jump yet give us a call.

Miami Business Resource: Where to Go and What to Do in Miami – Miami.com

Miami.com is a site dedicated to showing you what there is to see and do in Miami and South Florida. Miami.com staff and users can write reviews of restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, hotels, best beaches, museums, movies, best places to shop, celebrity sightings, and more. Users can also rate and comment on businesses listed on the site. Miami.com is owned by Miami Herald Media Company, which is owned by McClatchy Company. Miami.com is a great resource for locals looking for something new, tourists looking to plan the perfect South Florida vacation, and relevant local businesses for a host of reasons.

Check out this video from Miami.com to find out what they are all about. Yea, the video is a little cheesy…but just roll with it.

For local businesses:

Miami.com is a great resource for South Florida businesses, especially those in the entertainment, restaurant, and tourism industries. The site does offer advertising space for businesses, but they also write articles on varying nightlife and entertainment topics. These articles and reviews are independent of advertising. The About Us/Contact Us page of Miami.com states:

Our reviews and stories are not paid for by advertisers – our pages spotlight the best of South Florida, handpicked by our editors and users.

As an example, Miami.com currently has an article with information and reviews about local bars that offer the best (and largest) selection of beers. Now thats my kind of topic. Getting reviewed on Miami.com is a great source of free publicity for these businesses. Once a business has been added by the staff or a Miami.com user, the business can see what other users think of their location, product, or service by reading user comments and additional reviews. Check out the screenshot below of the Miami.com page for The Bar in Coral Gables, Florida. (click to enlarge)

So what are people saying about your business?

Kelsey Group Annual Forecast: Interactive Advertising Revenues to Reach US$147 Billion Globally by 2012

The Kelsey Group released their Annual Forecast (2007-2012) today. The Kelsey Group is the leading provider of research, data and strategic analysis on directories, small-business advertising, online local media, vertical market advertising and mobile advertising. According to the Annual Forecast, the global advertising market will be fueled by exceptional growth in the interactive segment.

Some interesting highlights from the press release:

Interactive advertising revenues will increase significantly from US$45 billion in 2007 to US$147 billion globally in 2012, representing a 23.4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

“We see Internet development—including increased subscriber/user access and broadband penetration—as a driver of both interactive advertising revenue as well as migration of traditional ad spending to new media platforms.” -Matt Booth, senior vice president, Interactive Local Media, The Kelsey Group.

Interactive advertising, which comprises search (including local search), display advertising, classifieds and other interactive ad products, grew its share of global advertising revenues from 6.1 percent in 2006 to 7.4 percent in 2007. By 2012 Kelsey Group analysts expect the interactive share of global ad spending will reach 21 percent.

Directional advertising, which comprises local search, print Yellow Pages and Internet Yellow Pages (IYP), will grow from US$33.3 billion in 2007 to US$41.4 billion globally in 2012 (4.5 percent CAGR).

  • Local search revenues will grow from US$2.1 billion to US$6.6 billion (25.5 percent CAGR).
  • Print Yellow Pages revenues will decline from US$27.5 billion to US$25.6 billion (-1.4 percent CAGR).
  • IYP revenues will grow from US$3.7 billion to US$9.2 billion (20.1 percent CAGR).

What does this mean to a small business’s online marketing budget? My bet (and I’m really going out on a limb here) is that costs are going to increase as more small businesses begin advertising online. Cost-per-click (CPC) bids are going to increase for the majority of keyword phrases and advertising rates for local search directories and Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) will increase.

Small businesses that follow best practices for search engine optimization and provide the informational content that online consumers want will reduce their dependence on online advertising for leads and customers.

JupiterResearch Reports Local Online Advertising Poised for Significant Growth

Online local advertising is expected to grow substantially over the next five years, according to a recent report from JupiterResearch.

According to the US Local Online Advertising Forecast – 2007 to 2012, local advertising will increase by 13 percent from 2007 to 2012, faster than online advertising as a whole, of which a 12 percent growth rate is anticipated during the same period. But it will be local display and search advertising that are poised to make the biggest impact. With compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively, during the next five years, the categories will gain lift from an ongoing strategic push by newspaper and yellow pages publishers as well as improved local performance by the major search engines. While this trend represents a shift from old media to new media, it in no way suggests tactics of the past are becoming extinct. (Business Wire)

As the local search space becomes less fragmented it will become easier for small businesses to reach an ever-growing number of consumers turning to the internet to find local businesses. A WebVisible and Nielsen//NetRatings survey released September 2007 found that search engines are now the number one source for consumers looking for local businesses. As this trend continues it will be critical for local businesses to have an optimized website and effective online ad campaigns to gain new customers.

Local Focus: CityVoter.com

City Voter is a locally focused social network/media site that helps consumers find the best local businesses in their cities. Registered users can create their own profile, upload photos, add friends, and describe who they are and what they like. In addition to the usual social network profile features, users can bookmark, vote for, and write reviews about their favorite local businesses. Users can also start contests to find out about other local businesses that offer the products or services they are interested in. For example, someone could start a (voting) contest titled “Boston’s BEST restaurant wine LIST?“, other users can then vote for any business thats already on the list or add one that has not been mentioned. They can also leave comments to support their vote.

Here is a screen capture of CityVoter’s Miami landing page. Note: I was directed to the Miami guide page when I entered the cityvoter.com URL, since my IP address is in Miami Beach: (click to enlarge)

Local businesses can also create their own profile for free. Businesses can include all their locations, business hours, special promotions, etc. City Voter encourages businesses and consumers to upload pictures of business storefronts, products, interiors, etc. The site also makes excellent use of Google maps to show the location of a business or set of businesses. The following is a screen capture for the search “night life” in Miami beach. (click to enlarge)

In addition to adding basic business information. A business’s profile contains a map on the right side of the page displaying all of their locations. Beneath the map, you’ll find a list of all the locations, including address, phone number, and hours of operation. Below the business description, users will see what contests the business is currently competing in and any contests they have won. Just below that you will find user comments about the business. Finally, on the right side of the page below the location information, you will see a highlighted contests section, “people who think we’re cool” section, and a “recent votes for…” section. To give you a better idea of what a business profile looks like, I have included a screen capture of Boca Grande’s profile. I have eaten at Boca Grande many times while I was living in Boston and I can tell you they have awesome burritos. 😉

City Voter currently covers the following cities (and surrounding areas): Boston, Washington D.C., Austin, Portland, Seattle, Miami, Raleigh-Durham, and Chicago. Businesses and franchises with locations in these cities can benefit from having a presence on City Voter. Some benefits include:

  • General exposure for your business or franchise through your profile.
  • City Voter users are opinion leaders. They are eager to interact with businesses and other people to share their opinions of and interactions with local businesses. This presents a great opportunity for businesses to get real-time consumer opinions about their business as a whole, specific product/service offerings, promotions, etc.
  • City Voter also gives local businesses the ability to see what users are saying about their competitors.
  • Lastly, City Voter provides a platform for local businesses to interact with individual customers. This aspect of the site allows small businesses and franchises to find out what they’re doing right or wrong, how to improve customer service, and what consumers would like to see in the future. Since City Voter (and similar sites) users are very vocal consumers; demonstrating your business’s focus on customer service and satisfaction to these users will go a long way in generating positive world of mouth in your community.

Are you a City Voter? If so, leave a comment telling us what you think of the site.