Social’s great, but without search you’re up the creek

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This is not another social media article. This is however an article that talks about how and where search and social need to find a home within your online strategy.

Ok, let’s take a step back.

Before social media took off at a rate of knots; it was search marketing that captured the world’s attention. There were certain methodologies that you could (and should have) employed to ensure to a large degree that your site would appear high up on Google (or any other search engine’s) results page.

Yes, there were problems and no guarantees and very often there would be articles calling for the death of SEO. None of this has really changed, marketers and brand custodians have just simply shifted focus to another newer and shinier obsession. (That’s social media in case you were not following.)

The thing is that search has not actually gone away. An eMarketer study, conducted in conjunction with AYTM Market Research, found that majority (63.5%) of US internet users access a search engine on a daily basis.

With such a high percentage of users actively looking at SERPs on a daily basis it is clear to see why search cannot be forgotten or ignored as part of your overall marketing strategy.

If that was not enough to convince you however; this time in conjunction with Weber Shandwick; eMaketer released the following graph which shows which online sources of information skewed target audiences perceptions about a brand.

Eighty-one percent of respondents stated that online search results would affect their perception of the brand. Also, just another note; online reviews and the company website — both of which scored highly at 83% and 79% respectively BOTH show up in search results and therefore strengthen the search argument.

That being said, look how low down social networks are as a factor in the perception of a company brand. I want to get back to the point I made in the beginning.

Online search results can do a lot to change the perceptions of your brand within the market. This is before they necessarily interact with your branded content online, this is just the presence or absence of your brand from a specific search query.

Essentially search and the optimisation of search therefore can be seen as a function that needs to straddle multiple departments within your organisation.

There is a need for search to act as a “direct-response” enabler (land on a highly targeted landing page ladened with calls to action). There is a need for search to position your brand within the minds of your audience being present within the search queries they are using to find a solution to their needs and wants (that’s a branding play).

There is also a lot of competitive market analysis and research that can be garnered from a well thought out search initiative (I shudder to use the word “campaign” as this is not something that should have a start and an end).

Understanding how and where your target audience is looking and more over, having a view of where your competitors are positioning themselves in the search landscape gives you the information to make some crucial and informed decisions which can then be used to drive intelligent and effective marketing campaigns.

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