Five Questions With Steve Stacy

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					Posted April 20, 2009
Five Questions With: Steve Stacy
By Ted Nesi
PBN Web Editor

Steve Stacy is president of Precision Web Marketing, an
eight-year-old Warwick firm that helps businesses
develop their online advertising strategies. Stacy, a Navy
Reserves commander who served in Iraq, talked with
Providence Business News recently about the latest
trends in search ads.

PBN: Over the past year, your company has shifted
a lot of its focus to Google’s local search. What
exactly is that? How does it work?

STACY: Google is displaying Google Maps results at the
top of regular search results for searches that include
not only the “what” but also the “where.” For instance, if  COURTESY PRECISION WEB
you do a search for “restaurants providence RI,” you will   MARKETING
see that the first regular search results are Google Maps   STEVE STACY, president,
listings. Additionally, Google “knows” that certain         Precision Web Marketing.
general searches are people looking for local results, so
a “restaurants” search will bring up local map results
based on the IP address – or physical location – of the searcher. In this case, Google
is providing the “where.”

These local results are free listings provided by Google that typically link directly to
the local business’s Web site. In cases where the local business owner doesn’t have a
Web site, then the listing will display all the relevant information that Google could
find about the business in a well-organized free local business listing that shows an
overview, details, reviews, photos and videos, user content, and Web pages. Google
Maps’ local business listings can be claimed by the rightful business owner and be
updated by the owner to reflect the most up-to-date information about the business.
The local business listing is essentially the online version of what the yellow pages
used to be to businesses – well, except that it’s free.

PBN: Is it common for people to use Google, a big global service, to find
something local? How big a role does it play?

STACY: Consumers have made online search engines their primary resource for local
business information and, they are buying both online and offline in droves. Ninety-
three percent of online users now use the Internet as an information source when
shopping locally for products and services, according to The Kelsey Group, and 89
percent of consumers making in-store purchases in key categories have conducted
online research prior to their purchase. So using Google to find something local is not
only common, it has become the norm in shopping behavior.

PBN: When you review your small-business clients’ search-optimization
efforts, what do you generally find? Is there usually room for improvement?

STACY: We typically find that our clients either have no Web presence or a poor
Web presence, and it’s not their fault – the system is broken.

Most businesses equate their Web site with their ability to get business from the Web
and rely upon the Web developer [for guidance] – but that is like asking the
contractor who built your store to drive business through the doors. In general, Web
developers know little about how to market a Web site, since that really isn’t their
job – so we pick it up when the builder has completed the building, and put the
business in front of their prospects – with Google.

Google doesn’t even require you to have your own Web site. Any business owner can
go and claim their free local business listing on Google Maps – via the site’s Local
Business Center – and start getting phone calls, e-mails, and new business.

PBN: Google has also introduced new regionalization tools for businesses on
AdWords, its main advertising product, to help them zero in on the
geographic response to their campaigns. How are those useful?

STACY: When it comes to search, local is all about pairing the “what” with the
“where.” Even when the searcher leaves off the “where,” Google AdWords can still
piece together “where” the searcher is physically located, and then displays ads
based upon that information. Type in “doctors” and you will see national AdWords
results, but you will also see regional results that only you would see because of your
physical location. You can tell they are regional results because they have a location
displayed below the listing.

For instance, type “doctor” into Google and you will see that some of the results say
“Rhode Island” below them – those are regional AdWords ads. This allows
advertisers to control the geographic region where their ads are displayed and it
helps searchers get more relevant results.

PBN: Last year, the Justice Department threatened to file an antitrust
lawsuit against Google and Yahoo after the two companies said they were
considering an advertising partnership. What was your take on that?

STACY: If Google were to team up with Yahoo in search marketing, advertisers
would suffer with fewer choices and higher prices. Search was monetized through the
pay-per-click advertising introduced in the late ’90s by The company’s
founder, Bill Gross, created a system where businesses could compete for top
rankings in his search engine through a bidding process. He turned the written
language into a commodity that is being bid on every moment of every day through
systems like Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing.

Currently, Google has about 80 percent of the entire U.S. search market and derives a
majority of its profits from Google AdWords. Allowing Google to team up with Yahoo
would essentially give Google complete control over the U.S. search advertising spend –
thus giving them a monopoly. •

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