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THE SEARCH AGENCY: You recently authored a best practices document on Google Places. Could you explain a little about the service and why online marketers should consider incorporating it into their online marketing strategy?
David: Google Places is an online directory for businesses with a physical location. Right now I’d say it is the most important online directory given that A) Google is the dominant search engine and B) Google says that 20% of searches on Google are related to location. Simply put, if your business has a physical location—and especially customer visits to your storefront is vital to revenue—you NEED to have a local SEO strategy and Google Places should be a big part of that.
THE SEARCH AGENCY: What key best practices should marketers keep in mind when completing their Google Place page?
David: SEO best practices should be applied to Google Places. Perform keyword research, do not spam or keyword stuff, and follow the guidelines given by Google.
For more specific recommendations, you can check out our new best practices document!
David: There’s been a lot of discussion around SPYW regarding privacy and whether or not Google is using its dominant position in monopolistic ways, but, as a search marketer, my focus is on delivering results to my clients – not politics. My primary goal is to figure out how I can use this new paradigm to enhance the search experience and gain a competitive edge. I’m actually working on a blog post right now about the types of information that is included in SPYW, so stay tuned to The Search Agents for that.
THE SEARCH AGENCY: How do you think these changes will affect the user experience?
David: I’m fascinated by how this will change the way users search. When Google introduced Universal Search results, you saw an increase in traffic to photos, videos and other types of non-traditional static web pages. When Google Suggest and then Google Instant launched, it changed user behavior again as people began to alter their searches based on what they were seeing as they typed. In my mind, it’s the question of the chicken and the egg; did people want those functionalities so Google built them or did Google build them and then people wanted it?
Do people really want highly personalized search? Do people want to see different results based on their location, age, interests, etc.? It will be interesting to monitor this year the percent of organic traffic in Google Analytics where the keyword is not provided; as I think that will be a good proxy for adoption of personalized search.
THE SEARCH AGENCY: What other industry developments or trends do you find particularly exciting at the moment?
David: Two things that I’m completely fascinated by are markup/structured data and responsive design. For the first, as we move closer to the Internet of Things, having machine readable data is going to be a real differentiator. You are already starting to see the beginning of this in increased CTR on items in the SERP that have rich snippets. Best Buy has done a fantastic job with this and I definitely recommend people read about how they implemented their markup strategy.
For responsive design, the idea of one website for many screen sizes is really appealing. Even for very large companies with ample resources, maintaining and optimizing separate websites for desktop, tablet and mobile users is incredibly difficult. It’s also a source of frustration for users who know how to navigate a website in one format and are completely thrown off when encountering it on another. As the web comes to even more screen types—from as small as a 3-inch mobile device to as large as an 80-inch TV—responsive design is going to be critical.
THE SEARCH AGENCY: Moving away from online marketing, what are your hobbies/interests outside of the office?
David: I spend a lot of time staying on top of industry news, reading a lot of blogs and eBooks as well as interacting with marketers on Twitter (@davidcarrillo). Aside from that work-related stuff, I’m a big sports fan (still hurting from the 49ers loss), gadget guru, gamer, Charity Water advocate, and have been known to enjoy a fine glass of whiskey. Living in Santa Monica, I also love to hike and spend time at the beach.
David Carrillo is a Creative Editor at The Search Agency.