Ep 27: Yelp’s Positive Q2 Reports, When do SMBs Hire Key Roles & How to Create Content When AI Writes Well

Yelp recovers from pandemic lows, SMBs hire key staff later than thought and how to create content when AI writes it all

Ep 27: Yelp’s Positive Q2 Reports, When do SMBs Hire Key Roles & How to Create Content When AI Writes Well
Photo by Josh Hemsley / Unsplash

Part 1 Video Starts 00:13: Yelp: New Vaccine Attributes & A Winning Qt. - We look at why

Part 2 Video- Starts 10:00:
When do SMBS Hires Key Roles? Later than you would think

Part 3 Video- Starts 14:29: How will Google & marketer deal with a world where AI can generate original content?

Reference Articles

  1. Yelp Q2 Shareholder Letter
  2. Yelp Blog.Yelp Helps Businesses Communicate Vaccination Requirement
  3. Bredin Report: When do SMBs Hire Key Roles?
  4. The Search Singularity: How to Win in the Era of Infinite Content


Greg: All right. Welcome back everybody. It's Friday, August six, episode 27 in the near memo as always I'm Greg and I'm here with Mike and David. We're going to talk about, uh, everything in the world of local search commerce and so on, uh, or not everything, but things that we think are important this week and SMB and SMB.

Thank you. And that's a, that's a, a big feature of, uh, this week's discussion. Um, and I'm going to kick it off with the, with two, two items tied to Yelp. Um, the first, well, before I begin do either of you want to say any. No. Okay. Thanks for joining us yet again yet again. Alright. Okay. Um, so Yelp this week, uh, announced its Q2 revenues and they announced a surprise profits.

Uh, their stock jumped 14%. They grew revenue, uh, after hours the other day. And they grew revenue, I think 52%.

Mike: So that's 52% over 2020, right? Yes, I think is a critical comparison. Cause it's not.

Greg: Right. It's not a high bar, not a high bar. Yes. Okay. And, um, and then they also introduced two new business attributes for their profiles.

One was, um, proof of vaccination required for admission and, uh, all staff vaccinated, which, um, is, is, uh, is I think interesting. I think Google's. Mimic that probably because I think now with the Delta variant and the sort of seriousness of that and how contagious it is, I think it is. And

Mike: with all these businesses going in that direction, Google, Facebook, all agreeing that people need to be vaccinated to come back on site.

Greg: Right. Right. I think the confusing thing though, is that, and this is why it's valuable as a, as a, as a profile attribute is that it's, you know, depending on where you are in the country, And depending on what business category you're in, the rules are going to be very different. There's no uniformity. Um, you know, so in Florida they're going to be no, no masks, no vaccine requirements, California, New York and elsewhere, you know, vaccine rules will be more prevalent.

And so it's going to be really valuable to have this information. What are you going to say, Mick?

Mike: Well, just that. Logical point of view, every business needs to get to that point where they're actually requiring vaccines because the businesses are getting caught in the middle here. If they don't have rigorous enough standards and it leads to.

No, I was super spreader vent amongst their customers or their employees. The business has got to take it on the chin, maybe not legally, but certainly socially and financially. And I think that the business, you know, from a business case point of view only let's leave out the moral issues. A business needs to get to this point.

And I think it's good that all these major innovative. American businesses have done that. Disney, Netflix, even Walmart has done it along with Google and Facebook, a number of others more coming every day. In fact, CNN fired three employees who violated the all vaccinated in the office rule. And I think that that's going to become the norm in most businesses that don't want to get caught flat footed from a PR point.


Greg: Well, except in jurisdictions where everybody is, you know, it's in certain places where people are hostile to vaccines. Well, I

Mike: don't, I, you know, my research would indicate that the most, that these people, that the most it's 20% are hostile. That's still these 80% that aren't right. So. You know, there's some people who are undecided, but they're not hostile to vaccine or a safe height hygenic protocol.

It's like, well,

Greg: there's a, there's a difference between masks required for admission and vaccine proof required for admission.

Mike: Right, right. Because I'm talking about employees and certainly when you get to the question of customers, it's a more nuanced question.

Greg: I think for employees, it's a very easy.

Right. If you're going to bring people into an indoor environment in these circumstances, you need to have, you need to be vaccinated. I

Mike: think that's done everything you could to maximize your hygiene,

Greg: right? And that's, and that's, and that's legally permissible courts have ruled on it. There's no ambiguity there where it becomes a much harder question I think is for the, for the business owner to require this and enforce this in New York, there are going to be potential fines for businesses that fail.

In the requisite categories to enforce this or lax in their enforcement. So non non-compliance or, or lax enforcement will result in. In New York

Mike: city in New York. Yes. But the rest of New York state, our hospital proclaimed how successful they were because 72% of their staff were vaccinated. I looked at that news report and thought one more than one out of four, their staff workers are not vaccinated.

The hospital becomes a super spreader event themselves. Yeah.

Greg: Well, and that's, and that's going to happen with the schools opening. I mean, I'm, I'm, I have a 16 year old, who's going back to high school next week. And they're going to have masks, but there's no way they're going to prevent the spread of the given the sort of contagiousness of the Delta variant.

There's absolutely no way that that's going to not sort of tear through that, those, those environments.

Mike: And then they interviewed our local mayor and he was concerned that if New York state made it mandatory, it would be an unfunded mandate. And I'm thinking death by COVID an unfunded mandate. The feds are paying for COVID vaccines.

COVID vaccination of employees is not an unfunded mandate. And then the mayor and the next city over. Oh, I've never even asked her employees. It's against HIPAA and I'm thinking, oh my God, I live right in the third world, the middle of a third world country.

Greg: Well, okay. All right.

Mike: Yes. I'll put that attribute in place.

And I agree with you that Google will as

Greg: well. So the, so the attribute is the attribute is helpful. From the standpoint that there's going to be a lot of confusion. And secondly, some people will use this as a way to determine who to patronize and, and so I think it's true. Yeah. So I think it's a really valuable.

Um, I think it's a really valuable thing now

David: that I was actually going to highlight a couple of things from the, uh, earnings report. Well,

Greg: let's let, okay. So let me just finish out the, the, the vaccine attribute and then we can go to earnings. Um, so one of the things that comes with with any kind of public COVID display is review bombing, right?

Because it's such a hot, hot button issue. And Yelp says that they've experienced something like 600% increase in. Dubious reviews built, you know, tied to ideological issues like, you know, masks and, and vaccination. And they said that they've removed 4,500 reviews. I don't remember what period of time this was as a result of that.

Now what's interesting to me is that, you know, I mean, just the phenomenon of review bombing becomes a big problem, but the, that they've only removed 4,500 reviews suggest that the review volume is in the aggregate is pretty low, right? You know, I mean, it would be 45,000 or 4 million, 500,000. If it were Google, I think

Mike: we will know that as soon as they released their 10 Q for the quarter, I've been tracking their review volume for the last eight years.

And it's been generally it's the grade of growth has been decreasing. It's been, uh, so, but we'll see. Oh, no. Yeah, they didn't release that in their conversations yet.

Greg: Well, David, why don't we go to, I mean, I can say some things editorially about quantity versus quality, but let's go to you, David.

David: There were a couple of interesting things in their report.

Um, one of which is they seem to be, uh, diversifying revenue away from restaurants and retail, which my first thought looking at these numbers was, oh yeah, of course retail spending's, you know, off the charts in Q2, because everybody's going back as we talked about, I think last week on the near right. Um, but yet seems to be diversifying into, into more and more categories, which is, which is good for them.

Uh, as a business,

Mike: they refer to it as services though. What does that mean? Does that mean lawyers and doctors

David: or home service or

Greg: home services is one of the big categories.

David: Yeah. Uh, and, and the other thing was, it seemed like they were growing their, uh, growing the share of revenue from national brands, which I think is, uh, is, has always been a better, more viable, uh, path.

In terms of customers who don't necessarily hate Yelp right off the bat, uh, which most small businesses do. So I think it, you know, in some ways, yes, enterprise sales are a lot harder, but it seems like for Yelp, it might actually be an easier path to grow revenue and they seem to be, uh, somewhat successful at doing that.

The third thing I don't have an explanation for, but it seems like they have a decrease the cost per click. Uh, or cost per action or whatever their metrics are on, on ads, um, but have actually increased the revenues from those ads. So that also tells me that maybe they're lowering their minimum spend, um, uh, for SMBs or that they're, they're cutting amazing deals with these national brands to get more of them on board, either one of which I would fully support, uh, having worked with the.

On the SMB side, any way where the minimums just did not make any sense relative to the declining traffic to Yelp as Mike has been pointing out. So,

Mike: right. Yeah. They, they had a 40% increase in paying advertising locations, which is a pretty significant increase. And the other point there, David, back to your revenue diversification was they increased revenue from self-serve, which I think is in your, in the SMB category.

Again, if an SMB. Serves in that they're less likely to be pissed at some salesman than hurts sold them.

Greg: Yeah. And I, I wonder what that, what that means is that just adds, or does that include some of their paid products that are not ads,

Mike: correct?

Greg: No. No. So, okay. So I think, um, Mike, you were no we're growing to you at the end.

So David, you're up with the, uh, recent, uh, SMB survey.

David: Yeah, I'm on the, uh, as I'm a recipient of the Britain newsletter, which I think is an excellent newsletter, uh, for those of you who have not yet subscribed, um, they do a lot of market research among small businesses. Um, so surveying small businesses, uh, and interviewing small businesses to see what they think about various, uh, mostly SAS, uh, sort of data points.

Um, the research that came out with this week was. At what company size does an SMB hire a particular role? So for example, head of HR, how large are you? What percentage of businesses at excise actually have a head of HR or a head of sales or a head of marketing or a director of it, those kinds of roles.

And it's a really interesting graphic, I think, regardless of what, um, What your product is, uh, there, as it, as someone who is selling to small businesses, if that's what you do as, as I do at demand science, um, it's a really interesting segmentation assistant, uh, in terms of who, what customers you should be targeting.

So for us, it demand science. Um, I'm sort of helping lead one of our, our small business product divisions. Um, we definitely want to target SMBs that have at least one sales or market. Uh, employee. And so this, this research was really helpful to me, any way to say, man, if, if a business has fewer than 20 employees, they're incredibly unlikely to have one of those people.

We should exclude them from ad campaign, you know, audience, uh, audience targeting or cold email outreach or those kinds of things. It's a really, uh, helpful, uh, segmentation tool for us. The flip side is if you're an agency. Uh, that is, you know, delivering sort of soup to nuts marketing packages. Maybe you actually don't go after businesses that have a full-time marketer.

In which case you want to look at that sweet spot of businesses in that sort of 10 to 19 range where, you know, they've probably got, you know, somewhere north of a million dollars in revenue, $2 million in revenue, but they don't have somebody who's actively doing marketing as their full-time job. That might be your best fit, um, as an agency.

So I just thought that research was really interest. Um, and there's going to be a webinar coming up this coming week. If you want to learn more about it, I'm going to try to attend if I've got time. So,

Greg: yeah, I think they also said, I agree. It was interesting. I think they also were talking about how larger, uh, small businesses, which I think extend into the up to 500, 499 head count at the high end, um, consistent with the SBA definition.

I think they were saying that those, those larger businesses tended to have consultants outside consultants that they relied upon in addition to these internal roles, which was interesting. And then, you know, I was surprised to find out how much enterprises rely on managed services very often, which was kind of a little counter-intuitive, but nonetheless, uh, and then at the, um, uh, th th th the.

The lower end. I'm sorry. I lost the point there for a second. The lower end businesses, the very smallest and bees were relying on vendors very heavily. That was another one of the points is that they, they look to vendors to provide the sort of guidance and, um, you know, direction, advice that, that you'd typically get from a head of marketing internally or maybe from an outside consultant.

So that, that was also kind of interesting. I think most vendors don't do a very good job. Giving that guidance because they're biased toward their own, their own products obviously, but,

Mike: or they don't have a sales model that really supports right. I mean, either way, I mean, right. That creates unintended bias even right.

Greg: Can be good at it. Right. So it's a good, it's a good piece of research. And, um, you know, I think they, they also found that it was. Um, you know, there wasn't clear, there weren't clear lines of demarcation. You know, everybody with a hundred or more employees has a head of HR, you know, there were, there were sort of, there were some variation, but, um, and one of the takeaways was that it was surprising how businesses of a larger size still didn't have certain roles that you would expect to have.

So that that's kind of, that's kind of an interesting aspect to the research. So that leads us to you and Mike and research, search singularity, whatever that is.

Mike: I've been, there's a couple of articles that I've been reading in this vein, but, uh, animals Eve did this article by Ryan law called the search singularity, how to win in the era of infinite content and just points out that tools like open AI, GP three and others, right.

Original content. This isn't content, this isn't mildly modified content. This is taking all the things that, that these large systems know and writing original content, but typically mediocre kind of. And currently AI is helping, you know, optimize articles. AI's already identifying gaps in subject matter.

AI is already being used to flesh out bullet point outlines and get to the first draft fit faster. And it's all. And I'm sure it's already being experimented with in terms of content. Question becomes one is to me, how does a B how does anybody deal with this content sort of disgorging and two, how does Google deal with it?

Because this content isn't plagiarized, it's not as easy for them to identify. So assuming that Google can deal with it, they offered up three suggestions from a strategy point of view. One was focused on information gain. I E. Increasing knowledge in a given area, filling information gaps, original surveys, that type of thing to diversifying into authority in different areas.

So. Counter narrative opinions, personal narratives industry. Now it says data storytelling and then three possibly sharing information in unique and unusual way. I mean, these have always been the ways of creating value in this marketplace, but depending on how well Google does with it, this could become harder.

Although in the end, I think. Uh, maybe you said it best David creativity prop will win out. Um, but it is an interesting problem that everybody's going to be confronting over the next few years. As these tools become more valuable and less expensive to use

David: it, it could make it much, it could make it even harder for you.

Smaller less authoritative websites to compete in the SERPs, because I think if you're, if you're an SEO at an enterprise company with a lot of resources and a lot of domain authority, you're going to be able to gin up just an unlimited amount of long-tail content that will probably rank because of your domain authority.

Um, and I, I personally don't think Google is going to be all that good at detecting AI generated content versus personally generated content. So I think if you. A smaller company that you might have to go. It might be the kind of thing where you, you know, before you would have to, you know, before the strategy was to go after all these long tail terms, because they were less competitive and you might have a chance to rank for them.

I think moving forward, it might say, actually, we might need to go all in on, you know, three pieces of content a year that are really heavily, uh, you know, have a strong, a strong, creative, or original research by. Um, and then from there, use those as hubs to, to try to build a more long tail strategy. But I think domain authority and AI content, uh, is probably the future of SEO for a lot of, a lot of industries.


Greg: I agree with that analysis about the long tail. I mean, I think this is the kind of tool that if it, if, I mean, I haven't seen any of the originally content that this article refers to. But this is, this is a way for a small team to generate a ton of content around very, very specific ideas or keywords, really niche content.

And so that I agree that that the danger is that, that everybody else will get drowned out. Um, you know, I, I wonder, I mean, I immediately think about the value of, of brand, and it's hard to build a brand if you're a small, you know, home services company, right. That's a, that's a big challenge. Um, but brand becomes even more important in this kind of an environment that gets noisier and noisier.

And then also does it push people to other channels, to, to generate that awareness, you know, Tik, TOK, YouTube, um, whatever it is, you know, next door Yelp, because Google is just going to be this morass of crap. You know, thin content or

David: it may not be crap. It will be perfunctory, but it may not be crap. I mean, some of these AI products, right?

Perfectly readable articles that might actually be informative on a particular topic. So I think they will all be perfunctory, but I don't know that they're all going to be crap. It depends on how good the.

Mike: And how long tailed the content is.

David: Right? Exactly. I mean, some of these things are going to require domain expertise and all of that sort of thing.

But, um, well, I mean, I feel like th th the in home services, for example, what was that site? Um, oh, they got nailed by one of those Panda updates or whatever. Um, How, how, how do, how do i.com or how to yeah. How to all of those. Yeah. Those kinds of things can be very well-targeted and very well done with AI as my guests

Greg: there.

But in that example, that's all pretty thin stuff, you know? It's

Mike: and that was all thin plagiarized stuff. It wasn't original,

Greg: or it was derivative or it was derivative, right. Yeah. Right, right. But

David: I, I, so I think that AI is going to do a better job than that. Uh, you know, probably third world written e-health articles.

And if the, if those AI articles are on a domain with enough strength, I think they're going to rank and be useful enough for consumers.

Greg: I mean, I, I could, I could envision a lot of first draft efforts, right. Sort of creating a lot of first draft copy. And then you have human editors who go over it and sort of Polish it at the margins and, you know, make it.

Slightly less machine. Like, no,

Mike: no. I had a, I did a video of the spot to be case study and gather up convert, uh, hired, uh, a ghost writer to write it up. And it was endless hours bringing it back to a level of, of mine. And Aaron's time to bring it back to a level of sophistication that I felt it needed.

And so even with a human. Writing from a video, they could not create the nuance or detail that I thought was important in a written version of this video. And it took us hours and hours. So is this

Greg: a, is this an argument, a pro machine argument?

Mike: It's a pro-human argument really? That it takes more than a few minutes around the edges is what I'm

David: saying.

An example of a piece though, that you guys spent substantial time on that, that required and, and exhibited a ton of creative. And hopefully lead to some real visibility for gather up. So that's exactly the kind of content that will win even with

Mike: machines. But Greg said that you could get it to start the article and then you could fix it up around the edges.

And I, I don't think that a real article can do that. You write a thoughtful article. I think that like Davidson it's it's perfunctory.

Greg: Well, I mean, I know that if you, just, in my experience, if you create a bad first draft, It's really hard to fix that you almost have to reinvent the piece.

Mike: Well, that's true.

That's very true, but it does hold a place of possibility for the three of us.

Greg: It's very interesting. It's very interesting to think about. I mean, I have not experienced it. I've only read about it, so yeah. I mean when I was reading, we

David: should say all, all, all, uh, near media newsletters are actually written by Greg.

They're not just remixed AI from articles that might guide. I hope

Greg: that it doesn't feel like they're a great mix. AI. I spent a lot of time looking at stuff and writing stuff, so,

Mike: yeah. Well, there you go. So hopefully you all onto regional creative. Sign up for our newsletter.

David: I wonder if I should. Yeah, we should run a test though.

Mike, where we have one newsletter go out. That is AI that see if people notice,

Greg: people won't know, people won't know people, people scan, you know, they don't, they don't read, they scan, so. Okay.

David: All right. Well that seems like a positive enough note to end on despite it not being as worthy of gold. Is for, for, for others as it is for me, but it seems like a good place to stop for this week.


Greg: Um, as always, we love to hear from you, um, things you want to say to us ways we can help, help you more with our content. And, uh, thanks for listening.

Mike: We will see you next week. Be safe out there.