Blog

July 13, 2017

Will Snapchat Be Another Foursquare

By Hannah Wilson

Foursquare

Jay Hawkinson compares the history of Foursquare and with the current position that Snapchat is in. Whether Snapchat will successfully reinvent itself through data and the added capabilities it is acquiring remains to be seen, but they are firmly playing in the location space now and creating disruption.

For a more in depth look, check out Jay’s new column in Ad Week.

July 11, 2017

Why Voice Search Is The Future

By Jay Hawkinson

Voice recognition and Voice Search

“Voice search is taking over my home. And soon, it will take over your business” writes Jon Schepke in his recent column for Street Fight. Jon shows that technology and natural communication are beginning to align more and more; making sure your business can keep up is critical to the future of your company. In his column, Jon shares how voice search has become part of his family’s lifestyle from how they engage with their devices to how he uses it to help run SIM Partners. More importantly, Jon discusses the growth in voice search and practical business uses now and what we can expect in the future.

Read the entire column Why Voice Search Is the Future and leave your comments about how you use voice search in your daily routine and where you think it is going in the future. If you have questions around optimizing for voice search, SIM can help. Contact us today.

July 7, 2017

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017 – Part 2

By Hannah Wilson

We’re continuing our countdown of the top read 10 blog posts from the first half of 2017. Here are the top 5 most-read blog posts:

5. On-Demand Healthcare Inspires Compelling PartnershipsBrian Westrick

Earlier this summer, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association set out to solve a rather large problem of patients being unable to attend their physician appointments due to lack of transportation. Click here to read more.


4. AI and Patient Engagement Resonate at HIMSS 2017Francois Tubol

IBM-watson-blog-post

Francois blogs about the HIMSS 2017 conference and three things examples of ways healthcare can embrace technology in the here and now. Click here to read more.


3. A Call for Customer EmpathyAdam Dorfman

Following the HIMSS 2017 conference, Adam walked away with something that he felt was the main message, customer empathy is essential to succeeding in our industry. In particular, better understanding the enormity of the challenges that healthcare systems face as well as the complexity of the patient journey. Click here to read more. 


2. Amazon Fires a Super Bowl Warning Shot to Brick-and-Mortor BusinessesJay Hawkinson
amazon-drone-800x434

Jay recounts a Super Bowl ad for not only Doritos, but for Amazon. The ad depicted a couple getting air dropped Doritos from Amazon Air, it was another reminder that Amazon is going to continue stepping into the turf defended by U.S. businesses that manage multiple brick-and-mortar locations. Jay writes about what this means for the future of Amazon. Click here to read more. 


1. Google Maps: More Social and PersonalAdam Dorfman

Google announced that users can save locations to personalized lists and share those lists with others through social networks, email, and messaging apps. Our take: this development underscores why it’s so important for businesses with brick-and-mortar locations to manage their location data and content effectively. Click here to read more.


Hope you enjoyed these. We’re excited to see what the next six months has in store. If you have any questions about these posts or how we can help improve your local search visibility with Velocity, please contact us.

 

 

July 5, 2017

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017 – Part 1

By Hannah Wilson

Hope you had relaxing and enjoyable Fourth of July break! Now that we’re at the halfway point of 2017, we at SIM Partners are reflecting on the first six months. So much has happened that we thought it would be good to recap it with our top 10 most-read blog posts. Here are the 10 through 6 to kick things off:

10. Have You Met Your AI CatalystEric Borchers

The impact of Artificial intelligence has been a topic of discussion for quite some time and in this post Eric describes how the HIMSS 2017 event highlighted to him that Artificial Intelligence has moved from a topic of the future, to a topic of today. Click here to read more.


9. Amazon Web Services Outage: How Preparation Prevented a ProblemAdam Dorfman

aws-outage

If you recall, on February 28, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing platform experienced a service interruption for four hours — an event that disrupted the performance of some well known businesses such as Buzzfeed, Netflix, Pinterest, Quora, Slack, and Spotify. More than 148,000 websites as well as thousands of apps and devices rely on AWS to help them manage their infrastructure by storing critical assets on the AWS cloud. Adam reflected about how companies who rely on such reliable and widespread technology also need to plan for the unexpected. Click here to read more.


8. Instagram Bets on Location, its “Hidden Gem”Adam Dorfman

In May, the competition between Instagram and Snapchat rose to new heights when Instagram started to test a feature called Location Stories. Location Stories collect and share public Instagram Story content from Instagram’s 700 million users. Location Stories had been built off of ideas introduced by Snapchat. Click here to read more.


7. Are You Ready for Mobilegeddon 2017?Jay Hawkinson

Mobilegeddon2

“Mobilegeddon” refers to Google’s launch of the Mobilegeddon algorithm change of 2015, in which Google assigned preferential search results for mobile sites. As was the case with the first Mobilegeddon, your site effectiveness and search results would have been affected unless you were prepared. Jay described the different updates to the the algorithm for 2017. Click here to read more.


6. How Healthcare Providers Can Take the Digital LeadPhil Rapisardo

Our very own Phil Rapisardo writes about the time commitment it takes to build ranking authority to improve your Search Engine Optimization tactics. There’s a lot of factors that go into Google’s website ranking for search results, and with these tips you can be sure that you’re ahead of your local counterparts. Click here to read more.

Stay tuned for part two of our countdown of the top 10 most-read blog posts.

June 28, 2017

Seize the Video Advantage

By Adam Dorfman

If mobile is the king of online advertising, then video is a powerful prince. As we discussed on our blog, mobile advertising spend now accounts for more than half of all digital ad spend, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau. But online video is surging in popularity, which underscores how important it is for businesses to use a rich content palette in their location marketing.

Couple watches video on mobile phone

The IAB’s annual Internet Advertising Report says that of all the ad formats measured – mobile, paid search, digital video, and banners – only mobile and desktop video saw an increase in revenue from 2016. As the IAB noted, desktop video revenues increased 16 percent, but its percentage of total revenues remained constant as a percentage. Other interesting points:

  • Total digital video, including mobile and desktop, rose to $9.1 billion, up 53 percent.
  • Digital video on smartphones and tablets continued strong triple-digit growth.
  • Forty-six percent of video ads were displayed on a mobile device, up from 29 percent the prior year.

The data suggests that businesses are getting more sophisticated about investing into digital video across different devices. This omnichannel approach is understandable because consumers have become more omnichannel, consuming content across different media, such as video, image, text-based content, GIFs, and emoji. Brands are reacting to a more visually oriented consumer experience (as I noted in a recent Search Engine Land column).

Video will continue to grow. As Mary Meeker’s recently published Internet Trends 2017 report indicates, technology developments such as the bundling of video into Amazon Echo Show will continue to make video a mainstream consumer behavior, and the rise of video gaming also underpins how comfortable consumers are interacting with video like drinking water. So when businesses create good video content, people are receptive, as Mary Meeker suggests:

IAB Video Image 2017-06-26

To succeed with video, I suggest that brands:

  • Understand how to use both paid and organic video content. On the paid side, for instance, brands use six-second bumper ads to create a quick impression, while an in-stream video ad provides more content but is skippable after five seconds. On the other hand, brands might use video organically to drive traffic to their sites and raise awareness for brick-and-mortar stores, such as a “how-to” car maintenance video that a brand like NAPA Auto Parts might use to boost interest in its brick-and-mortar locations. Depending on how you use it, video can generate awareness, reach, and engagement.
  • Understand how video will help you as opposed other forms of visual storytelling. For instance, GIFs are often used to create short bursts of whimsical content. The example I cited in Search Engine Land was Starbucks using humorous GIFs to promote its drinks. But in the same column I also noted that video, whether recorded or livestreamed, is better for longer-form visual storytelling and engagement. A brand can also chop up videos into smaller morsels to distribute across multiple platforms, as Tiffany & Co. did recently.  

A great way to get started with video is to match your customers’ journeys against your own brand’s objectives. First understand your customers’ omnichannel journeys across platforms and devices. And then figure out the right content for the platform and journey that best supports your brand. Facebook, for example, may lend itself to longer-form how-to video and livestreams than Instagram. But whether you take advantage on Facebook depends on how important Facebook is to your customers’ journeys.

Contact SIM Partners to figure out how to create engaging content that drives revenue at the local level.

June 26, 2017

SIM’s Adventure in the PanIQ Escape Room

By Charley Vail

PanIQ Escape Room Chicago

panIQ Escape RoomSIM Partners put their teamwork and communication skills to the test when they entered the PanIQ Escape Room Chicago in the West Loop. The PanIQ Escape Room sets up escape room courses where teams of 6 have 1 hour to solve puzzles and work together to escape the room. The SIM Partners team saw an opportunity to grow as a team and build on skills that are vital in the workplace such as direct communication, critical thinking and problem solving. You can use a walkie-talkie to ask the attendant for clues if you come to a roadblock, but using this lifeline too frequently results in vague responses from the attendant.

Three teams of 6 split into three different rooms and competed in friendly competition. The rooms were themed accordingly; there was an infection room, a mob scene and the room I was placed in, the jail cell. You and your team get a backstory as to why you are locked in the room, and the door shuts, starting the timer. My squad was split into two different jail cells with only a hole in the wall to use for communication and exchanging verbal and physical clues.

It was a mental workout as my team began to gradually solve puzzles based off the information we had within our respective jail cells. We completed a crossword, a wall puzzle that involved delicately passing a key back and forth with lock picks, and our intern Hudson drove a remote control RV to the other side of the room and used a magnet to retrieve another key. It was equally exhilarating as it was satisfying, and I got to spend time with co-workers I don’t normally speak to on a regular basis. All SIM teams escaped their respective rooms and were completely satisfied with our results. Immediately we began discussing plans about coming back and conquering different rooms in a rematch. We learned valuable team building lessons and discussed them in a debriefing meeting back at the office. We grew close together, and it was an amazing start to our weekend.
PaniQ Escape Room Chicago

Here are some of the lessons we learned that we can use in office when helping out clients:

 

  • If you have a piece of information, share it with the entire team because it’s probably useful for other teammates to know.

 

  • If your team is lost and have tried all options, something that you don’t know about must be wrong. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a third party.

 

  • Have patience when problem-solving. Rushing through the process won’t bring you to the resolution any faster.

 

  • If there are too many cooks in the kitchen, remove yourself and take a step back to observe and cause less confusion.

 

  • Ask direct questions. Don’t ask open-ended questions.

 

  • The team leader should delegate tasks when necessary and know when to bring the team together to regroup.

 

  • Trust your teammates to do your job and focus solely on yours unless they ask for help.

 

  • Take time to reevaluate and find out what is important and what is a distraction. Only focus on the important tasks first.

 

  • Do we have all of the information we need to solve this puzzle?
    • a.k.a. “Do we have all of the information needed to complete this client ticket request?”

 
The winning team:
Image uploaded from iOS (2)

June 21, 2017

Meet SIM’s Summer Interns

By Hannah Wilson

intern

This summer we’ve taken on three interns at SIM Partners. All three of these college students have chosen to spend their summer vacation with us to broaden their horizons in the business world and to learn a thing or two about Search Engine Optimization.

lauren resized

Our Graphic Design Intern, Lauren, studies graphic design at DePaul University where she will graduate from in December. She is a Chicagoland area native, hailing from Carol Stream, Illinois.  While she spends her summer with us, she will be updating, creating and organizing graphics for the company. From business cards to eblasts, she formats it all. She has also been working tirelessly on the backdrops for our tradeshow booths!In her spare time she loves watching rom coms with her roommates.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 2.27.46 PM

Our Sales Intern, Hudson, had never been to Chicago before this summer! A native of Tyler, Texas, he will be spending the summer assisting the sales team. He has mainly been working on projects such as acquiring intel on all the major competitors and applying that information into a spreadsheet, as well as making notes on webinars for everyone to be able to access. Also he has been involved in sales conferences and trainings to better understand what thought processes and mindsets needed when communicating to prospect. Hudson enjoys the outdoors and finding good places to eat. He will be a sophomore in the Fall at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where he studies Political Science.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.41.33 PM

Our Marketing and Social Media Specialist, Hannah, commutes from River Forest, Illinois, this summer. She is in charge of maintaining our blog, sharing our content and finding other relevant content for our Twitter pages. She has also been working to help the development of our concepts for the trade shows we will be participating in later this year. Although she is a Chicagoland native, she will be graduating in December with a degree in Marketing from LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Hannah enjoys dogs, Trader Joe’s and camping. She loves cheering on the Tigers and earlier this month she actually went to the Super Regionals that were held in Baton Rouge when her fighting tigers beat Mississippi State and moved on to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

 

June 19, 2017

Don’t Let Your Site Redesign Get in the Way of Your Practice

By Hannah Wilson

Healthcare websites are doing it wrong

When a physician’s location information and content are inaccurate, it adds to the confusion for potential and current patients. However fixing this info is not always a priority of physician practices. This issue seems urgent yet many practices choose to put this on the back burner often waiting until a major website redesign is completed. Website redesigns can be a challenge. It’s understandable that a provider takes the mentality of “I’ll fix the data as soon as I get my website ready.” But this kind of mentality undermines the reason that providers have an online presence in the first place: to engage and retain patients.

Continue reading more in Mike Hill’s post on how to manage this and what actually happens when you put off cleaning your location data and content over website updates.

 

 

 

June 8, 2017

Giving Back for the Anixter Center

By Hannah Wilson

Give Back Resized

On June 6, some of the SIM Partner employees volunteered their morning with the clients of the Anixter Center in Lakeview on Chicago’s north side. It is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the Chicagoland area that has different programming for all ages to help people with disabilities and the challenges that come with those disabilities.

From the moment we arrived that morning, we could feel the energy and support that this place offers all of its clients. Everyone that was getting dropped off was smiling and excited for the days activities. We followed Jen, who’s the head of volunteer services, and started setting up the clients favorite game, Bingo.

We set up a craft corner, a photo booth and the main event, Bingo. This way everyone could switch around and try different things. When the clients came in, you could sense the excitement. SIM Partner employees each helped a handful of the Anixter Center clients with filling up their boards, crafts, and even posing for pictures together in the photo booth. All of the clients were excited we were there and eager to tell us about themselves.

The biggest take away from this particular Give Back, was that you can get just as much out of volunteering and the people and organizations we help out do. We started off the day with the mindset that we were going into this event to help the clients of the Anixter Center, but they also helped us recognize that we need to appreciate the little things. Whenever anyone got a Bingo, they would go up to the front of the room and pick a prize from the table. Whether it was a pen or a lei, they were also so excited and happy to receive even the smallest prize. It demonstrated to us that taking a step back each day and enjoying the little things can greatly improve your point of view.

Amazon is a Search Giant

By Jon Schepke

Amazon Packages

I’m sure you heard the news by now: on May 30th, Amazon became just the 14th member of the “$1,000 stock club.” The company’s incredible earnings growth is probably Wall Street’s biggest story of the year.  To put things in perspective: if you invested $10,000 into the Amazon IPO, today it would be worth $4.8M.  But Amazon is much more than a cash cow for its investors. The company is a business disruptor. Amazon has certainly changed the retail experience forever. And now it’s a search giant, as noted by Forrester analyst Collin Colburn in a recent blog post.

Is “Google’s Biggest Threat? Amazon,” Colburn cites reasons why Amazon is encroaching on Google’s position as one of the dominant players in consumer search. One factor that resonates for me is how Amazon search moves customers along the product lifecycle.

“Google has long dominated the discover stage of the customer life cycle,” he writes. “But Amazon is playing an increasingly large role in how customers find products. In fact, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics data, 31% of US online adults who made a purchase in the past three months started their shopping research on Amazon. And it doesn’t end there. Amazon is also a place for customers to research product choices and even transact.”

Amazon, like Facebook, has built its own search-and-discovery platform. And with its ability to filter and personalize results through its own algorithm, Amazon makes it easier to find and purchase products with a few clicks. In fact, with the roll-out of voice-activated products such as the Echo, Amazon is changing the way we search, from clicking to talking. As I wrote earlier this week, Google also has a say in the evolution of voice search, but Amazon’s products dominate the market for voice-activated speakers.

Brick-and-mortar stores correctly perceive Amazon as a threat. But businesses can also succeed in Amazon’s world by treating Amazon’s success as a lesson in how consumers discover products and services:

  • We live in an omnichannel world in which people discover brand on multiple platforms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, and Google, and devices ranging from laptops to mobile phones. Succeeding in an omnichannel world means being present on multiple platforms (including your own website) and creating content appropriate for each. Create visual content to capture searches on Instagram and to lead those searches to your stores. Go deep with descriptive content completed by accurate location data to win on Google – and so on.
  • Be flexible. Search is changing into a voice-activated and visually oriented experience. Make sure your location pages are optimized for voice-activated searches on Amazon Echo and that your inventory makes effective use of visual content to make your product descriptions pop.
  • Encourage next moments, or the moment of purchase that occurs after you find a product online. One of Amazon’s greatest strengths is its shopping cart feature. Once you find something you like, Amazon makes it easy for you to buy and ship. Brick-and-mortar stores can get a lot more savvy about creating next moments as Amazon does. For example, as my colleague Adam Dorfman wrote recently in Search Engine Land, businesses can make better use of their store locators to turn search into revenue. I urge you to read his column.

Learn from Amazon. Get better at creating a search-and-discovery process that leads to revenue in your store. Read my earlier post, Apple Steps Up Its Game in the Voice Economy, for more on voice search following the WWDC news. Contact us. We can help you succeed with location marketing.