How to be more visible – Directory Optimization and Baby Gorillas
Justin Brasser Jan 27 2017
Platitude #1: Google owns a massive majority of the search market. If all the internet’s a directory, and the game is to ensure you’re optimizing as such, consider that about 80% of desktop searches and over 85% of mobile searches are performed on Google. Their directory is dominant for many kinds of information.
Old joke: Where does the 800-pound gorilla sit [in your marketing meetings]? “Wherever it wants.”
Thankfully, in exchange for our submission, the Google alpha gorilla provides a cornucopia of tools and resources for we humble marketers. (Or was it an Alphabet gorilla?)
Platitude #2: Every digital marketer should take advantage of Google’s tools and best practices to make the most of the world’s largest directory.
However, and this is the fun part, you shouldn’t stop here. Google does not have a monopoly on the directory game. As a matter of fact, the more specific and nuanced your search, the better another directory may serve the information you want.
Taken a step further, other major directories are critical places to make sure customers can find you, in the right place, at the right time.
To stick with the metaphor, let’s call these Baby Gorillas (mainly to get a few angry comments from snarky Quora power users), and look at a few quick ways you might optimize your presence on each.
Again, this post is intended to get you thinking about some of these “directories” and priming you to spot others. We won’t get into a specific game plan for each, but we’ll share more of what’s specifically working for Portent clients in future posts. Anonymized to protect the successful, and innocent.
[Cracks knuckles.] Here we go.
Do you sell a product? Start with Amazon.
Amazon may be an 800-pound gorilla in its own right, but nonetheless it’s a baby for overall search volume. Again, consider the context of the search, and whether you should take the time to optimize your presence on this additional directory. According to Moz, Amazon has roughly three times more search volume for products than Google.
Almost half of American households are Amazon Prime members. Of those Prime members, 55% will begin their search for a product on Amazon and 9 out of 10 consumers will check Amazon, even if they’ve successfully located that item on a retailer’s site.
If anything you sell is on Amazon, you owe it to yourself to optimize your visibility here. There are also rumblings of Amazon making bigger bets on algorithmic search within its ecosystem. You heard it here first.
Warning: There are some big differences between optimizing for Google and optimizing for Amazon. The latter is still effectively the Wild West by comparison.
Platitude #3 & #4: Google’s job is to keep searchers coming back by helping them find exactly what they’re looking for. Broadly, so they can sell more ads. Amazon’s job is to sell more products. So, where Google’s algorithm is based around user engagement, Amazon’s algorithm and search results are based on conversion rates.
A few actionable tips: Use MerchantWords to find keywords that shoppers are searching for. Remember, it’s all about context. Use images that answer questions and give users an accurate picture of your product. Moz also has a great guide to Amazon SEO. Do your research, measure your progress, and remember to focus on conversion.
And don’t skimp on the paid promotion opportunities within Amazon. On balance, it’s largely pay-to-play today for most retailers.
Ah, the triumphant return of “F-commerce.” For this as-yet baby gorilla, Facebook makes it easy to set up a store as part of your company’s Facebook page, which syncs with your existing e-commerce platform.
This a relatively new feature and has yet to prove especially effective, but there’s incredible room for growth. The first time Zuck tried a heavy e-comm integration push, he was a mere twenty-something. Now he’s a battle-tested thirty-something, so you know it’s gotta work. Right?
Full disclosure, while we can talk about optimizing your social media presence, and that you may generate some visibility organically, the real value lies in Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities. You can use every bit of Facebook’s increasingly deep (and arguably creepy) psychographic & interest profiling, to target users with ads that drop them off at your Facebook shop. I’d be willing to bet that we see them overtly prioritizing this kind of ad format before too long.
If you know your target audience skews heavily female, you should definitely be active on Pinterest. Over 85% of Pinterest users are women. Pinterest positions itself as the World’s Catalog of Ideas. It’s aspirational by nature. This is great for marketers, again as long as you’re willing to recognize the context and optimize appropriately.
Pinterest is where users Pin things that they aspire to do, to be, or even to own. All of these desired states can be addressed by presenting your product(s) in the right aspirational, visual context. And lest you dismiss this as pure window-shopping, 75% of users have purchased something they found on Pinterest.
At a high level: optimize your pins for more visibility on Pinterest, use keywords, and pin your most important or relevant pins to the top of your branded boards. Seer Interactive has some great resources on Pinterest optimization as well.
If you own a customer facing business with a physical location, Yelp is a great tool for you. Yelp’s location data is fed into local search results for Bing and it comes with some serious value for local search by virtue of the context. You can also piggyback Yelp listings for more visibility in SERPs.
Yelp is also a great source for user reviews. These reviews are great feedback for your business. Don’t be afraid of bad reviews. In fact, you should encourage your customers to review your business on Yelp. Engage with these reviews and implement solutions to customer complaints. #BeAGoodBusiness
At a minimum, be sure to claim your Yelp Business listing. This will allow you to update and optimize your Yelp listing and respond directly to reviews. Consider a paid upgrade to your Yelp account for more control over your listing and to optimize your account.
Again, not exactly a baby gorilla, but if you’re in the hospitality business in any way, you should be very familiar with TripAdvisor. Like Yelp, TripAdvisor provides location data and collects user reviews and you can piggyback search visibility and page rankings in SERPs.
At a minimum, you should claim your business listing. TripAdvisor also provides some great tools for optimizing your business location’s profile. Tip: to remove friction for potential customers, consider a Business Listing subscription with TripAdvisor, which would allow you to process reservations directly through the TripAdvisor site.
Answer Questions with Quora
Quora is a social network where users ask and answer each other’s questions. As voice search and digital personal assistants are becoming more relevant, the way people search is changing. People are asking more questions.
Use AnswerThePublic to find out what questions people are asking in relation to your target keywords. This is also a great way to generate content ideas. Katie McKenna from Portent’s content team recently did a roundup of great tools for blogging, which is full of other suggestions on where to draw popular or trending ideas and questions to answer.
Answer questions that are relevant to your niche. Be an expert in your field and engage with your target audience by answering their questions.
Conclusions on directory optimization
Google may have the lion’s share of the overall organic and informational search market, but you’d better believe that every one of these platforms will fight hard to be the choice for a specific kind of search, especially toward the bottom of the funnel. If you’re trying to drive visibility for a brand, you owe it to yourself (or your client) to look for opportunities to optimize within the platforms your target market uses.
Justin is a Client Partner with over five years of account management experience. Born and raised along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, he's now a proud Seattleite and loves exploring the Pacific Northwest. He once ran a marathon, something he's proud of, but never intends to do again. Read More