Komodo Links: Google Universal Search, Robot Language, and EULAs

We’ve got a short edition of Komodo Links this week. Two posts from the Google Webmaster Central Blog and a humorous post from Techdirt regarding companies EULAs.

The Google Webmaster Central Blog had an interesting post from earlier this week about taking advantage of universal search. The post has some good tips for small businesses to make the most of local search, video search, image search, and personalized search basics.

Google Webmaster Central also launched a Robots.txt Generator available in Webmaster Tools. Read all about it at the Webmaster Central Blog.

Techdirt has a humorous post about how companies don’t even read their own EULAs. The post includes some funny examples.

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.

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.

Googles Android

I’m sure most of you have all read about Android from at least a dozen other places. For those who haven’t, Android is an open source software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. Anybody can download the development kit from Google and design mobile applications on the Android platform. To attract some of the best and brightest developers, Google has launched the Android Developer Challenge.

The Android Developer Challenge will provide $10 million in awards for great mobile applications built on the Android platform. The Challenge will be broken down into two phases. During Challenge One, developers must submit their applications to Google between January 2 and March 3, 2008. The 50 most promising entries will each receive a $25,000 award to fund further development. The 50 developers will then be eligible for even greater recognition through ten $275,000 awards and ten $100,000 awards. The second part of the Challenge will launch after the first handsets built on the platform become available in the second half of 2008. Google doesn’t go into specifics about what Challenge Two will entail.

The primary aim of the challenge is to encourage the development of innovative and useful applications that promote a better mobile experience. These mobile applications will become excellent tools for franchises and small businesses to attract potential customers. Applications that focus on local search and location based services can heighten a small business’s visibility for a certain geographic area. For example, a business traveler could use this application to find dry cleaning companies close to his or her hotel, see what services they offer, their business hours, and read reviews from previous customers. Another example could be a bar using a location based service application to display an ad about their after work drink specials. The bar could have the application ad only display on mobile phones within a two mile radius of their physical address, thereby highly focusing the ad to their target.

The possibilities are truly endless with Google’s Android platform. It will be very interesting to see what applications come about in the next two years and how these applications will benefit local businesses. If you’re a small business or franchise owner, keep an eye out for continuing developments with the Android platform.