Case study: On-page + off-page SEO working together = success

I encounter many people who believe the basic blocking and tackling of search engine optimization (SEO) execution is losing its value, but I find doing this basic hard work still works incredibly well.
In today’s post, I’m going to share a case study of a travel site whose business plan incorporates a straightforward approach to creating highly differentiated content on their site and then promoting that content effectively. They believe in building and marketing content with a high focus on the end user, and as you will see, the results are impressive.
Disclosure: The company discussed in this post, kimkim, is a client of my company.
Business overview
kimkim is an online travel company founded by a team of experienced entrepreneurs and engineers who played key roles at companies including TripAdvisor and EveryTrail. Their mission is to push the travel industry toward a more authentic and local experience while still maintaining high quality and consumer trust. This is achieved by partnering

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How much will privacy regulation disrupt the local search market in 2018?

Most marketing professionals don’t give much thought to the regulatory climate. In the US, unlike Europe, privacy laws are largely industry-specific and targeted toward healthcare and financial services. Thus, marketers have largely been able to rely on lawyers to provide privacy disclosures and then go on to business as usual.
Yet there are a number of indications that a tipping point may be near, giving way to new regulations that demand significant changes in business practice. These changes can have a disproportionate impact on small and medium-sized local businesses. And varying standards across state lines means that companies with local operations in different states may have to make multiple adjustments.
Below, I take a look at the current environment and indicators that major changes are due in 2018. Then I cover seven ways changing privacy laws will impact the local search market.
Deregulation on federal level driving changes on state level
With all the news on Net Neutrality last month, you

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Google brings local lead generation to Google Assistant and Google Home

Google is bringing new forms of local search to the Google Assistant and Google Home. The company announced it’s working with local home service providers “like HomeAdvisor and Porch.”
On any platform where Google Assistant is available, users will be able to ask for contractors (e.g., “Ok Google find me a plumber”). That initiates a structured interaction which generates a lead or contact with a local service provider.
In the case of IAC-owned HomeAdvisor, which now also owns Angie’s List, users can ask to be connected by phone at the end of the process to a contractor or receive a list of relevant, pre-screened contractors. The following graphic depicts part of the user experience and the structured Q&A that’s used to refine the lead.
This is a highly structured local search and lead-generation experience that will bypass conventional search results (i.e., business listings). Google said the new functionality would be rolling out in the next week or so.

Google itself offers local lead generation for contractors

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Markets with home service ads: Service-area businesses are coming back to the local results

After my column about Home Service Ads came out last week, I got a message from Google with some great news. They told me two things:

Google plans to add pure service-area businesses (SABs) back into the local results — this includes home-based businesses.
The disappearance of results for home-based businesses in markets without Home Service Ads was due to a bug (not intentional), which Google says should be resolved soon.

So, almost a year after deciding to remove service-area businesses from the local results, I’m starting to see that Google is adding them back.
Here is an example of a search result I spotted this morning.

A few days ago, it looked like this (Notice how every listing has a directions icon — meaning the address is showing on the listing):

Although owners of service-area businesses will be extremely excited about this change, service-area businesses aren’t the only listings returning to the local results.
The return of spam
One of the good things about

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Google debuts giant new look for Local Inventory Ad product search in Knowledge Panels

Last May, Google introduced the ability to find out if a local retailer had specific products in stock right from the knowledge panel listing for the retailer. Now, it’s dedicating a whole lot more real estate to the feature.
Glenn Gabe, digital marketing consultant at G-Squared Interactive, tweeted a look at the update. Below are a couple of examples. It’s available on both mobile and desktop and goes well beyond the simple “Search items at this store link” that Google originally showed. A large section includes a search box, product category links and large product listings. On mobile, users can swipe through a carousel of product listings.

The feature is part of the Local Inventory Ads product, which enables retailers to promote products available in their locations via inventory feeds submitted to Google. The links and search results lead to Google Shopping pages.
Google is also running a test to show relevant text ads in knowledge panel listings for local businesses.
The

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How local businesses can turn the threat of on-demand deliveries to their own advantage

As a digital marketer, you have to stay on your toes. It sometimes feels like new market disruptions have become an annual rite of passage. What were once generational, seismic changes are now just the normal order of business.
The latest development in a long line of digital commerce revolutions is the emergence of on-demand delivery. Like any disruptive change, on-demand apps have created a lot of anxiety for brands and their local stores. Is this technology a threat to localized businesses, or an opportunity to improve brand engagement and drive customer loyalty?
Amazon leads another digital revolution
You have Amazon to thank for the current fervor whipping up around on-demand delivery. While Uber Eats, Instacart and Soothe, among others, laid the foundation for this change, Amazon will likely be the company to catapult on-demand local services into the wider consumer consciousness. The e-commerce giant’s recently announced plan to acquire supermarket chain Whole Foods signals a radical change in the way consumers

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Google adds booking for spa and salon appointments from Search & Maps

Consumers across the US can now book appointments with salons and spas through Google.
Beauty is the second category of appointment bookings available through Google in the US. In December 2016, consumers in select cities could book fitness classes through the Reserve with Google site, as well as Google Search and Maps. That functionality rolled out to the entire US in March.
Users can select their appointment time, see pricing and submit their information to reserve a time. Those with Google Wallet enabled can also pay for services if supported.
Google first started testing booking appointments right from a business listing in Search in 2015. Merchants must have a Google My Business account and be working with one of the booking partners to be eligible for Reserve with Google. Google already partners with MINDBODY, Full Slate, Front Desk, Appointy, zingFit, Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale and Wellness Living and will be adding many more partners, including Booksy, Envision, MyTime, Schedulicity, Setmore, Shore, SimpleSpa, SuperSalon and TimeTrade.
Fitness

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Reviews & other UGC more influential for consumers than search engines & ads [Study]

It’s well-established that ratings and reviews are widely consulted and have a significant impact on consumer purchase decisions. A new study from TurnTo affirms this and provides some additional color and nuance for the discussion.
Called “Hearing the Voice of the Consumer” and conducted by Ipsos, the study involved 1,070 US consumers who had bought something online in the past 12 months. User-generated content (UGC) is defined here to include ratings, reviews, photos, videos, social posts and Q&A participation. The most common forms were reviews and ratings, however, with 71 percent and 69 percent of survey respondents saying they’ve submitted those types of UGC.
Online ratings and reviews are a form of word of mouth, which is the most trusted source consumers consult before buying. Indeed, 90 percent of survey respondents said UGC had at least some influence over their online purchases. Roughly 53 percent rated it “extremely influential” or “very influential,” a higher percentage than for any other category. After UGC, search engines had the greatest influence over purchases.

UGC helps increase consumer confidence

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Google Maps ad traffic steadily growing

Over the last couple of years, Google updates have shown the company’s growing focus on monetizing searches with local intent and navigational queries. From local inventory ads, which are a version of Product Listings Ads that feature information on when a product can be picked up at a local brick-and-mortar store, to ads featured in the Local Pack, it’s clear that Google sees local searches as fertile ground for more ad interactions.
This strategy has extended to Google Maps, where ads derived from location extensions now populate for searches. These ads are steadily growing in importance, as shown by a rise in the share of traffic attributed to the “Get location details” click type.
‘Get location details’ clicks on the rise
While there’s no clean way to view all impressions and clicks from Google Maps, Google confirmed that very nearly all traffic attributed to the “Get location details” click type can be attributed to ads featured on Maps. Taking a

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Driving local marketing change with Uber, Lyft and self-driving cars

Are you ready for pay-per-car marketing? That’s right, PPC is about to take on a whole new meaning.
Uber and Lyft recently began testing programs in which local businesses pay for your ride to their locations — assuming you’ve splurged the requisite amount at their cash registers. The result: local marketing is about to be transformed.
Local search to certain purchase
Imagine this:
You’re traveling out of state for business. It’s dinner time, so you search on your phone for restaurants near your hotel. You narrow your choices down to two restaurants. Both restaurants offer the same type of food. Both have the same ratings. Both have a similar price range. The only difference? One restaurant is offering to pick up your Uber fare if you choose them. It’s not much of a choice, is it?
As ride services grow in popularity, paying for a customer’s ride will increasingly help businesses stand out of the PPC pack.
The primary beneficiaries of this new marketing

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