New site Hotspot Law like ZocDoc for lawyers

New site Hotspot Law like ZocDoc for lawyers

Local search is probably more visible than it has ever been since the advent of Google Maps. Yet, paradoxically, there’s almost no consumer-facing innovation taking place. There’s Google, Yelp, Facebook (somewhat) and a range of specialized vertical apps and sites, some of which have simply survived but aren’t thriving.

Little or no ‘horizontal’ innovation. Part of the lack of “horizontal” innovation in local is likely the result of venture capital not wanting to fund anything that goes up directly against Google. The company may appear to many investors now like an insurmountable juggernaut in local/mobile search.

Any new local-consumer startups, therefore, are likely to appear in specific industries or otherwise offer specialized use cases. Such is the case with Hotspot Law, a new legal search site that hopes to bring ZocDoc-style appointment scheduling to the legal profession. It also seeks to provide a more reliable and cost-effective flow of leads to consumer attorneys.

The legal vertical has a quite a few competitors, including Avvo (Internet Brands), LegalZoom, FindLaw and several others. Despite this, Hotspot Law founder Felix Shipkevich believes he’s solving two unsolved problems in the legal vertical.

“The legal market is in dire need of an upgrade,” argues Shipkevich.

Making direct connections with lawyers. “Once you’ve finished searching online, you have to start calling,” he said. “You don’t get to speak directly to attorneys, you typically talk to a gatekeeper.” He points out that this process of getting to a lawyer is time consuming for people who need legal help. “None of these [completing] platforms directly connect the consumer with an attorney.”

Shipkevich, who is an attorney and faculty member at Hofstra Law School, said he was inspired by ZocDoc and the way it enables direct connections between doctors and patients. Similarly, he wanted to remove the friction in lawyer-consumer matchmaking. Shipkevich explained that also sees Hotspot Law as a way to make “justice” more accessible to consumers.

Why you should care. Legal lead-gen is costly. Shipkevich believes that existing legal sites and ad solutions don’t serve lawyers particularly well either. “PPC advertising can be extremely expensive; in New York it can be $60 to $80 per click.” He adds that “Yelp is expensive. Sometimes it takes $2,000 to $4,000 to bring in a case.”

He wants to solve that problem with simplified reasonable pricing for lawyers who may be struggling to find clients. But he also sees Hotspot Law evolving into a platform to help attorneys manage existing clients. Currently the site only operates in New York, with plans to expand geographic coverage in the coming months.

For the time being Shipkevich will need to rely on SEO for discovery but over time he hopes to build a branded consumer destination. It will be very challenging given the current structure of local SERPs. One has to admire the ambition and chutzpah.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

Microsoft search, LinkedIn revenue growth slow for third straight quarter

Microsoft search, LinkedIn revenue growth slow for third straight quarter

Microsoft reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings Thursday, but the two sectors of the company that matter most to digital advertisers — search advertising and LinkedIn — again saw declining year-over-year growth in the final quarter of its fiscal 2019, which ended June 30.

Single-digit revenue growth for search advertising. With an increase of just 9% in the fourth quarter compared to the prior year, search advertising revenue grew slower than expected last quarter, the company’s CFO Amy Hood said during Microsoft’s earnings call Thursday evening.

Search advertising revenue increased by $184 million year-over-year, though Microsoft did not disclose what its total search revenue was for the quarter.

Hood said search advertising experienced lower volume than the company had expected and that growth was driven by higher revenue per search.

LinkedIn slowing continue. While still in the double-digits, LinkedIn revenue and session growth has been slowing for several quarters. LinkedIn sessions increased 22% year-over-year, while revenue grew by 25%.

Why we should care. Bing Ads rebranded as Microsoft Advertising at the end of April, highlighting the advertising group’s broader offerings beyond search inventory and data. Artificial intelligence and LinkedIn data for ad targeting have opened up opportunities for Microsoft Advertising to do more interesting things than simply follow in Google’s steps. Still, volume has been an issue, particularly on mobile, and is clearly one the company continues to struggle with.

Google will report its second-quarter earnings next week, but it, too, has reported slowing ad revenue growth for the past four quarters.

Microsoft’s search advertising business encompasses search ads on Bing and across the Microsoft Audience Network, which serves native ads on Outlook, MSN.com and Microsoft’s Edge browser.

Microsoft continued to note — as it has done in every quarter of its 2019 fiscal year — that LinkedIn continued to see “record levels of engagement.” LinkedIn has continued to invest in advertising capabilities and technology, including the addition of lookalike targeting, interest targeting that integrates Bing search data and more than 20 predefined business audiences for ad targeting at the end of March. At the end of May, LinkedIn announced it had entered a deal to acquire identity resolution platform Drawbridge to boost ad engagement and results for advertisers.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

When bad user-generated content happens to good businesses

When bad user-generated content happens to good businesses

Undoubtedly, the rise of user generated content (UGC) is one of the most compelling phenomena of the digital age. The ability for everyday people to become publishers through reviews, visual storytelling, tweets, and other forms of content has equaled the playing field between consumers and businesses and given a voice to millions. But not all UGC is good-quality content – which is a problem when poorly conceived and composed UGC appears on a business’s digital real estate. Put another way: no retailer wants to see a poorly cropped and unflattering photo of their storefront posted by an amateur shopper on the brand’s Google My Business (GMB) page. But when bad consumer content happens to a good business, the brand suffers by association, and the brand doesn’t always have easy ways to fix it. Here are a few examples:

Images

One of the most exasperating problems businesses face is the uploading of user-submitted photos on their GMB pages. David Mihm recently tweeted, “#1 SMB concern overheard = The (user-submitted) photos of my business are terrible. How do I get them to go away?” For example, here are some less-than-ideal photos you’ll find on the GMB of a grocer on the north side of Chicago:

Nothing says, “come shop here” quite like a dark, blurry shot of your store, right? And the close-up of a shopping cart full of random products is hardly a call to shoppers everywhere to visit. It feels unlikely that many of the people who upload photos like these are trying to spam the business but, whatever their reasons are, the business is powerless to stop these photos from suddenly appearing on their GMB profiles. At best, they can hope someone flags them as being poor quality in the hope that Google will take them down — which is hardly a certainty given that Google already has its hands full policing more serious content violations occurring on Google and YouTube. 

Q&A forums

As the name implies, Q&As are designed to give users a forum to ask questions about a business, and other users may reply to them. The questions can solve legitimate customer questions such as whether a business is keeping special hours for a holiday. But sometimes the Q&A forum is unhelpful, as this example about an automotive business shows:

In this case, a user wants clarification on a business’s hours. The first answer provided is not only vague, it’s probably wrong. And the second response is no response.

Scrolling down the screen, I found that a user who provided a more direct and accurate reply (the store’s posted hours show it closes at 6), but it was not the first reply (until I later upvoted it).

So what gives here? What’s likely going on is that users are chiming in with answers, even unhelpful ones, to give themselves more points and rank higher as authorities on Google due to the volume of the content they produce. But more is not better.

Google has made some steps to improve Google this by auto–suggesting answers based on content that exists within Google reviews. This is yet another reason that requesting reviews from customers is more important than ever. The more reviews you have, the more likely you are to have content that will answer your customer’s questions. Which leads us to the last example of poor UGC that can exist on Google.

Reviews

Reviews, of course, have become such a popular form of content sharing that they’ve become foundational to building a business’s reputation and crucial as ranking signals for local search. Reviews remain compelling tools for anyone to understand a business and for businesses to have a dialogue with their customers. As we know, reviews incur their own set of challenges, and I am not referring to negative reviews, which a business can address in a number of well documented ways. Just as problematic are reviews that are off topic, such as a customer discussing issues that are beyond the control of a business (say, traffic conditions or weather), writing reviews that are difficult to understand (because they are poorly written), or raising points that are more appropriate for a Q&A.

What you should do

Unfortunately, businesses on platforms such as GMB are facing a couple of problems that are getting more pressing by the day:

  • The rise of UGC – in itself a good thing – creates a strain when the volume of UGC exceeds a business’s ability to manage it.
  • Platforms such as Google lack the resources to address poor-quality UGC. 

I don’t see those problems going away anytime soon. I suggest that businesses:

  • Monitor your most important platforms and create a triage for how you’ll handle questionable UGC content. I’d suggest in this order: 1) reviews because they have the biggest impact on your reputation; 2) photos because of their increased importance in search visibility; and 3) Q&A content. And I’d place your GMB page higher on the priority list of platforms to monitor given it’s the most critical ranking signal for local search.
  • Rely on your employees to act as your eyes and ears, monitoring content and flagging off-topic comments and questionable-quality content. Get everyone on the same page and show them how to upvote good UGC and flag bad UGC.
  • Develop a close relationship with Google or find a partner who has one. Google does listen. It does not move as quickly as businesses would like, but the company has every motivation to make its user experience the best it can be. Poor-quality UGC helps no one.
  • Consider an automated tool to help you monitor and manage your brand’s content online.

You may lack complete power over your brand on sites such as GMB. But you can exert influence.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Adam Dorfman is a technology and digital marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience. His expertise spans all aspects of product development as well as scaling product and engineering teams. He has been in the SEO and Local SEO space since 1999. In 2006, Adam co-founded SIM Partners and helped create a business that made it possible for companies to automate the process of attracting and growing customer relationships across multiple locations. Adam is currently director of product at Reputation where he and his teams are integrating location-based marketing with reputation management and customer experience. Adam contributes regularly to publications such as Search Engine Land, participates in Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey, and regularly speaks at search marketing events such as Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West and State of Search as well as industry-specific events such as HIMSS. Follow him on Twitter @phixed.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

Aren't 301s, 302s, and Canonicals All Basically the Same? - Best of Whiteboard Friday

Aren’t 301s, 302s, and Canonicals All Basically the Same? – Best of Whiteboard Friday

They say history repeats itself. In the case of the great 301 vs 302 vs rel=canonical debate, it repeats itself about every three months. And in the case of this Whiteboard Friday, it repeats once every two years as we revisit a still-relevant topic in SEO and re-release an episode that’s highly popular to this day. Join Dr. Pete as he explains how bots and humans experience pages differently depending on which solution you use, why it matters, and how each choice may be treated by Google.

Aren't 301s, 302s, and canonicals all basically the same?

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, it’s Dr. Pete, your friendly neighborhood marketing scientist here at Moz, and I want to talk today about an issue that comes up probably about every three months since the beginning of SEO history. It’s a question that looks something like this: Aren’t 301s, 302s, and canonicals all basically the same?

So if you’re busy and you need the short answer, it’s, “No, they’re not.” But you may want the more nuanced approach. This popped up again about a week [month] ago, because John Mueller on the Webmaster Team at Google had posted about redirection for secure sites, and in it someone had said, “Oh, wait, 302s don’t pass PageRank.”

John said, “No. That’s a myth. It’s incorrect that 302s don’t pass PR,” which is a very short answer to a very long, technical question. So SEOs, of course, jumped on that, and it turned into, “301s and 302s are the same, cats are dogs, cakes are pie, up is down.” We all did our freakout that happens four times a year.

So I want to get into why this is a difficult question, why these things are important, why they are different, and why they’re different not just from a technical SEO perspective, but from the intent and why that matters.

I’ve talked to John a little bit. I’m not going to put words in his mouth, but I think 95% of this will be approved, and if you want to ask him, that’s okay afterwards too.

Why is this such a difficult question?

So let’s talk a little bit about classic 301, 302. So a 301 redirect situation is what we call a permanent redirect. What we’re trying to accomplish is something like this. We have an old URL, URL A, and let’s say for example a couple years ago Moz moved our entire site from seomoz.org to moz.com. That was a permanent change, and so we wanted to tell Google two things and all bots and browsers:

  1. First of all, send the people to the new URL, and, second,
  2. pass all the signals. All these equity, PR, ranking signals, whatever you want to call them, authority, that should go to the new page as well.

So people and bots should both end up on this new page.

A classic 302 situation is something like a one-day sale. So what we’re saying is for some reason we have this main page with the product. We can’t put the sale information on that page. We need a new URL. Maybe it’s our CMS, maybe it’s a political thing, doesn’t matter. So we want to do a 302, a temporary redirect that says, “Hey, you know what? All the signals, all the ranking signals, the PR, for Google’s sake keep the old page. That’s the main one. But send people to this other page just for a couple of days, and then we’re going to take that away.”

So these do two different things. One of these tells the bots, “Hey, this is the new home,” and the other one tells it, “Hey, stick around here. This is going to come back, but we want people to see the new thing.”

So I think sometimes Google interprets our meaning and can change things around, and we get frustrated because we go, “Why are they doing that? Why don’t they just listen to our signals?”

Why are these differentiations important?

The problem is this. In the real world, we end up with things like this, we have page W that 301s to page T that 302s to page F and page F rel=canonicals back to page W, and Google reads this and says, “W, T, F.” What do we do?

We sent bad signals. We’ve done something that just doesn’t make sense, and Google is forced to interpret us, and that’s a very difficult thing. We do a lot of strange things. We’ll set up 302s because that’s what’s in our CMS, that’s what’s easy in an Apache rewrite file. We forget to change it to a 301. Our devs don’t know the difference, and so we end up with a lot of ambiguous situations, a lot of mixed signals, and Google is trying to help us. Sometimes they don’t help us very well, but they just run into these problems a lot.

In this case, the bots have no idea where to go. The people are going to end up on that last page, but the bots are going to have to choose, and they’re probably going to choose badly because our intent isn’t clear.

How are 301s, 302s, and rel=canonical different?

So there are a couple situations I want to cover, because I think they’re fairly common and I want to show that this is complex. Google can interpret, but there are some reasons and there’s some rhyme or reason.

1. Long-term 302s may be treated as 301s.

So the first one is that long-term 302s are probably going to be treated as 301s. They don’t make any sense. If you set up a 302 and you leave it for six months, Google is going to look at that and say, “You know what? I think you meant this to be permanent and you made a mistake. We’re going to pass ranking signals, and we’re going to send people to page B.” I think that generally makes sense.

Some types of 302s just don’t make sense at all. So if you’re migrating from non-secure to secure, from HTTP to HTTPS and you set up a 302, that’s a signal that doesn’t quite make sense. Why would you temporarily migrate? This is probably a permanent choice, and so in that case, and this is actually what John was addressing in this post originally, in that case Google is probably going to look at that and say, “You know what? I think you meant 301s here,” and they’re going to pass signals to the secure version. We know they prefer that anyway, so they’re going to make that choice for you.

If you’re confused about where the signals are going, then look at the page that’s ranking, because in most cases the page that Google chooses to rank is the one that’s getting the ranking signals. It’s the one that’s getting the PR and the authority.

So if you have a case like this, a 302, and you leave it up permanently and you start to see that Page B is the one that’s being indexed and ranking, then Page B is probably the one that’s getting the ranking signals. So Google has interpreted this as a 301. If you leave a 302 up for six months and you see that Google is still taking people to Page A, then Page A is probably where the ranking signals are going.

So that can give you an indicator of what their decision is. It’s a little hard to reverse that. But if you’ve left a 302 in place for six months, then I think you have to ask yourself, “What was my intent? What am I trying to accomplish here?”

Part of the problem with this is that when we ask this question, “Aren’t 302s, 301s, canonicals all basically the same?” what we’re really implying is, “Aren’t they the same for SEO?” I think this is a legitimate but very dangerous question, because, yes, we need to know how the signals are passed and, yes, Google may pass ranking signals through any of these things. But for people they’re very different, and this is important.

2. Rel=canonical is for bots, not people.

So I want to talk about rel=canonical briefly because rel=canonical is a bit different. We have Page A and Page B again, and we’re going to canonical from Page A to Page B. What we’re basically saying with this is, “Look, I want you, the bots, to consider Page B to be the main page. You know, for some reason I have to have these near duplicates. I have to have these other copies. But this is the main one. This is what I want to rank. But I want people to stay on Page A.”

So this is entirely different from a 301 where I want people and bots to go to Page B. That’s different from a 302, where I’m going to try to keep the bots where they are, but send people over here.

So take it from a user perspective. I have had in Q&A all the time people say, “Well, I’ve heard that rel=canonical passes ranking signals. Which should I choose? Should I choose that or 301? What’s better for SEO?”

That’s true. We do think it generally passes ranking signals, but for SEO is a bad question, because these are completely different user experiences, and either you’re going to want people to stay on Page A or you’re going to want people to go to Page B.

Why this matters, both for bots and for people

So I just want you to keep in mind, when you look at these three things, it’s true that 302s can pass PR. But if you’re in a situation where you want a permanent redirect, you want people to go to Page B, you want bots to go to Page B, you want Page B to rank, use the right signal. Don’t confuse Google. They may make bad choices. Some of your 302s may be treated as 301s. It doesn’t make them the same, and a rel=canonical is a very, very different situation that essentially leaves people behind and sends bots ahead.

So keep in mind what your use case actually is, keep in mind what your goals are, and don’t get over-focused on the ranking signals themselves or the SEO uses because all off these three things have different purposes.

So I hope that makes sense. If you have any questions or comments or you’ve seen anything weird actually happen on Google, please let us know and I’ll be happy to address that. And until then, we’ll see you next week.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Vertaald van MOZ

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