Thursday, April 28, 2011

Google get their Swag on!

This month we’re talking "local targeting" at Rocktime and it looks like we’re not the only ones. April sees the release of the Google Places Business Kit Catalogue! Google is offering free promotional materials for qualifying businesses, allowing business owners to order in a whole range of goodies, from window stickers to neon signs and fortune cookies to sugar packets; a variety of goods for a variety of business types.

The grand plan is that all of the free stuff is to be used by business owners to encourage their customers and clients to review them in Google Places. Unfortunately at the moment, it’s not quite so ‘local’ to us in the UK – currently only businesses in the US cities of Madison, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Portland and Austin are eligible, but hopefully time will tell if these Google goody bags spread in popularity! The Google Places Catalogue is just one of many indicators that Google is getting serious about Local Search!

If you’re interested in getting in on the action too, and want to know more about how Local Search can benefit you and your website then why not get in contact with the Flashlight Search Marketing Team at Rocktime and see how they can help you out.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, April 15, 2011

Local Targeted Website Research

This month at Rocktime we’ve got our eye on local targeting, and April is our official “Operation Local Search Marketing” month! Local listings and local promotion sites will of course be of strongest benefit to those who wish to increase their local business reach.

Local is a pretty hot topic right now, and with good reason too as for starters, the Google Local Search Algorithm continues to evolve at a fast rate and recent reports indicate that 70% of users look for local information online first, and that 20% of all searches are location related. This month’s Geek Video was on “Google HotPot“ make sure you read the very latest (8th April 2011) news on why Google have decided to merge “HotPot” into their “Google Places” interface over at the Google Blog here.

The Google Places and HotPot merge also indicates there is much more to come with regards to reviews and recommendations within your Google Places account. Exciting times ahead!

Once you have optimised your Google Places account and devised a strategy plan for updates. You may be thinking where next? We hope that one day we will be able to say “We have a Local App for that!” however right now we haven’t. We do have a number of local directory websites that feed local search engines and we are also reviewing and engaging with local promotions sites and local social networks. Also when it comes to targeting your local market don’t forget about Geo Targeting options within paid search. It is a great feature, however our advice is for better ROI, opt for onsite local optimisation over paid-for models. You may wish to trial paid first though to review reach and potential for growth.

Having increased presence on local sites can create an environment for search engine rankings and support inclusion in a wide range of local apps and mapping software.

Local Targeted Website Research

We thought it would be interesting to find out the local targeted directory and local deal websites that the team at Rocktime use. As a team we have a 72% / 28% male/ female split, so in comparison to the UK online population as a whole which has a 52% / 48% male/female split, the results will be 20% Male biased.

Alice went round and quizzed the Rocktime staff on which local targeted sites they use and which they would consider using. A summary of the results are listed below.

If you’re interested in learning more about some of the following websites and apps, that are mentioned in the below results, we’ve talked about the majority of them previously on the Rocktime blog: such as Foursquare Deals, Facebook Deals, MePlease and Google HotPot.

As the chart shows, there’s a pretty equal mix and spread of the sites we picked out to ask about.

The ‘Other’ section entails services such as Think Local, The Best Of and Living Social to name a few. My Voucher Codes seems to be a fairly popular choice in the office, alongside the likes of globally popular sites such as Facebook.

The main finding from this research is the insight into the wide variety of local targeted websites we are using plus YELP (online Yellow Pages) and other local search engine pages were not mentioned once! The results indicate that as individuals we have not found one place yet in which to hang “our local targeted hat” with our friends. Perhaps with the developments on Google Places and the Google social share button (Google + 1) we will start to be more stream lined into where we go for local content and deals. Time will tell. We will review this again, same time next year.

Given the increasing popularity of the Local Targeting websites, it wouldn't suprise us if there's plenty more to choose from this time next year! Even now there's yet more sites popping up every month specialising in local deals and reviews, for example just last month Qype launched it's new (German) deals site, QypeDeals.

From the looks of it, here at Rocktime at least, Facebook Deals wins out over Foursquare. If you’re interested in reading more about the pros and cons between these two services then Social Media Examiner has put together a great comparison on its article Location-Based Services: Foursquare vs. Facebook Places.

If you require assistance connecting your business to local business talk to Rocktime’s Search Marketing (Flashlight) about bespoke local targeted campaigns.
We hope you found our above research of interest, we certainly did and if you would like to share with us the local targeted websites that you visit or would recommend, then feel free to post a comment below.

Authors: Sarah Griffiths & Alice Cheetham

Friday, April 08, 2011

Google Adwords Location Extensions

As it is “Operation Local Search Marketing” month, this month here at Rocktime, thought to share with you how much we love, Google AdWords' move to add location extensions to the PPC account adverts. Great example of Fitness First using this service above (see image or Google search Fitness First).

Basic summary is, you link your Google Places Adverts to your AdWords campaign. This is another reason why we have been raving recently/couple of years to our clients to get everything in one Google account.

Google AdWords location extensions are a local ad format designed to help local customers find your local business. Watch this video to find out how to transition your local business ads to location extensions in five steps. Alternatively contact the Flashlight Search Marketing Team to arrange this for you.

If your Google AdWords campaign is focused on local business and you have more than one place of operation (Pizza Hut is an example given on above video), then you really may want to consider using local ads, enriched with additional information, such as address and phone number. A big bonus is that with this feature you will be able to target multiple locations within the same campaign.

Google will show a local extension in the ad as default – this will be based on the users query ie: Pizza Delivery London and the users IP.

We believe that this is a perfect strategy for local targeting within AdWords and are implementing this for a number of clients with more than one local location. Let us know what you think and send us a comment below!

Read more about setting up your Google AdWords over at the Local Extensions Best Practice Guide from Google.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Geek Video of the month

This month at Rocktime we’re big on Local Targeting, so our Geek Video of the month is focusing on Google’s location based recommendation engine 'Hotpot'.

Released in November last year, Mashable added a great summary of Google Hotpot in their article here; Google Unveils Hotpot, a Recommendation Engine for Places.

"Hotpot takes all of Google Places‘ ratings and reviews features and adds a more personal touch. Currently, Place Pages mostly aggregate review data from sources such as Yelp. With Hotpot, users will be encouraged to rate and review businesses directly from their Google-linked profile. Users’ ratings and reviews are tracked with a counter at the top of each profile, and likes and dislikes are remembered and used in Google’s recommendation engine."

If you would like to know more about how you can benefit from local targeted campaigns, then contact the Flashlight Search Maketing Team.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, April 01, 2011

Intro to Google Apps for Education

As we have clients in the education market, this morning we have taken time out to find out a bit more about “Google Apps for Education”, which offer free (and advert free) set of customisable tools to enable faculty, staff and students to work together more effectively. More than 10 million students use Google Apps.

A quick scan of the news and official posts from Google shows that this is really taking off.

The 3 key benefits are listed as:
Communication – Enhance your community's dialogue with hosted email, shared calendars and integrated video chat.
Collaboration – Google Docs and Google Sites enable students and teachers to share documents online, at any time and from any location.
Customization – Easily integrate your existing IT systems with Google Apps while keeping your school's domain safe and secure.

On quick review it appears to have mainly taken off in USA; however, we did read a blog from a former UK header teacher who had become a certified “Google Apps for Education trainer” via The Google Teacher Academy and set up her own business to push technology innovation in the education field. So it is happening here people. We also found this statement from Leeds University, there are further case studies on the Google Apps for Education website:

Leeds Metropolitan University Higher Education "We had Microsoft Exchange but we found that it wasn't being used by students. They preferred Hotmail or Google Mail. We're trying to be very contemporary and that includes our IT strategy. We believe in working together with organisations that complement us and can add value. That was a big part of moving to Google."
Barbara Colledge, Dean of Partnerships.

The Google Teacher Academy (mentioned above) is “a FREE professional development experience designed to help K-12 educators get the most from innovative technologies”. There are several videos on YouTube on Google Apps for Education, here is a video from the Google Apps Education team: If you go to YouTube and search Google Apps for education and you will find several videos from Head Teachers.

To give further insight, into potential growth of the 'The Google Teacher Academy' and 'Google Apps for Education', we found a great post , published just yesterday from titled “Power of social learning can help students, teachers”; which reported that: “A massive, six-year study was completed in 2009 by Project Tomorrow (, which involved the “largest collection of authentic, unfiltered” stakeholder participation in any known similar study, with the involvement of 1.85 million K-12 students in more than 23,000 schools and including 26,312 parents and 38,642 teachers”.

They also noted that: “The study report revealed three “essential elements” for effective, 21st-century education:

• socially-based learning helps students process and personalize their learning,
• un-tethered learning allows students to not have to rely solely on teachers for information, and • digitally-rich learning enables students to access and process material in a variety of ways, as well as driving productivity”.

Read more about:
Above mentioned post: “Power of social learning can help students, teachersGoogle Teacher Acadmey Google Apps for Education

We have recommended Google Docs, which form part of the Education Apps, previously on this blog; read our post on Google Docs just got better.
Also, don’t forget that “We grow our own” at Rocktime, if you have ideas to increase your productivity with an intranet system or application, then talk to us about it, so we can discuss the development further call Rocktime Sales Team, or visit our Intranet / Extranet page for more information.

Author: Sarah Griffiths