Search was a little late into the marketing mix, joining the party just 15 years ago. As a result, it’s often considered as just another element of the mix, used to drive traffic and sales to the business. But this perception is changing; a recent survey by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows that 99 per cent of UK advertisers believe there is greater opportunity to integrate search into the rest of their marketing activity. In this article I will show why this integration of search is vital to your business’s success and how your business can improve your search results.
Offer a fantastic product or service
Consumers are increasingly relying on other consumers’ experience of a brand before deciding whether to give a company their business. Make sure your review strategy supports your search by first ensuring that your product or service is strong, and second that you invite your happy customers to review you. Their words will go much further than those of a salesperson or the copy on your landing page. Integrating your reviews with search listings can increase click-through rate (CTR) by up to 50 per cent. You should also work with your online team to explore and test different unique selling points – if your business doesn’t do anything different or better than your competitors, it becomes very difficult for you to achieve any genuine, lasting standout in
Develop business ‘connections’
Historically, businesses hired search engine optimisation (SEO) companies to sit in a room and generate high volumes of links as a precursor to SEO success. Recent Google algorithm changes have minimised the value in such linking techniques. Google has worked hard to understand the difference between a business that is good at SEO and one that is genuinely strong. Focus on generating high-quality, genuine links that showcase your brand’s authority and relevance. What connections are at the heart of your business? Who does it deal with and who does it have any leverage over?
In a broader sense, what ecosystem is your business a part of and how can you reach out in a way that will increase the likelihood of people linking to you? This level of business linking can’t be outsourced entirely. Honourable links need to come from the heart of the business and be integrated into its strategy. Your SEO agency should be encouraging you to unlock the value from your business to generate such links, because links they find easy to generate without any interaction from you are likely to be worthless.
Unlock valuable content
It’s no longer enough for businesses to expect consumers’ awareness and consideration simply because they pay for it with traditional media buys and marketing messages.
Instead, businesses must create value for the consumer through an intrinsic understanding of their needs, interests and concerns. Start with a round of communications planning and ask simple questions such as: who are you talking to, and what do they want and need? If this insight is already available in the organisation, dig it out and look at it again with fresh eyes, considering how you can offer it in such a way that the value you’re creating is clear to Google. How can the business create a value exchange with its consumers? Even if the content isn’t directly related to the product, it can still be incredibly valuable in creating real engagement and lasting consideration.
How can brands address consumers’ needs and interests through video, for example? We know that Google ranks videos in search and this is another way to reach consumers. And how can value be exchanged in social? Social signals are another way in which Google ranks businesses in search, so making sure customers are fully engaged with social content is another must.
Have business ideas, not ‘search’ ideas
When a business knows what its consumers are interested in and where that fits in its ecosystem, it can create channel agnostic ideas that then manifest themselves in a number of different ways to maximise the value they create. One of our clients, Match.com, helps people find love through dating. Their annual ‘Lovegeist’ research surveys people around the UK about their perspectives on love. The resulting data is divulged to the press, where it helps to generate links back to the data held on the site. Local publications are offered location-specific statistics to share with their readers, while national publications are given insights into how the nation’s views on love are evolving over time.
The information is also used onsite, where location-specific dating pages are updated with the latest statistics. Statistics can be shown in pay-per-click ad text. The information is also shared through Match.com’s social channels to further engage with their customers.
Six ways search can inform other areas of your marketing
Don’t think that your business has to be a slave to your search activity. Other than the increased traffic and acquisition which search can drive, it can also offer a lot of insight back to the business. With so much information available through search, the possibilities are endless, but these six examples give a flavour of how valuable search data can be to your overall marketing mix:
- Analysing search behaviour can help you understand demand and trends over time.
- Unfulfilled onsite search data shows areas of consumer interest you’re not delivering on.
- Non-search messaging can be tested in pay per click ads to find out which is strongest.
- Imagery can be tried out using landing page A/B testing to inform which press ad to run.
- Run TV ads on YouTube to measure user engagement over time for each creative.
- Search re-marketing can allow you to advertise to users who are not quite ready to convert.