Search, the start of the customer journey
Paul Smith, CEO at 4Ps Marketing argues that brands are missing out on opportunities by not focusing on their response to search.
With a 90 per cent market share of searches, Google is clearly doing something right. Pretty much the default browser of choice, it is the starting point for two million searches every minute. However, for the seller of goods and services, the dominance of Google represents a real threat – 75 per cent of click-throughs happen on the first five results. This can only get worse. If you want one tip to see the impact – try searching for one of your products on a mobile device!
As a result the whole industry, including 4Ps Marketing, has grown to help businesses tailor the way their websites work so they are as search engine friendly as possible. Google, in turn, is continually revising its search algorithms with one aim: to make the search results more relevant to the user.
Perhaps the most recent significant change, in Autumn 2013, was Hummingbird. This latest change to the algorithm was an attempt to better understand the intent of the searcher.
Now Google still can’t know what is in the human mind but based on millions of searches and the individual’s browsing history it can start to interpret that search term. So a search for the term “Mount Everest” could mean search results for one person that focus on the mountain and for another results that are about climbing it.
And all this is doing is providing a digital equivalent of the real world – in the same way you might ask two different friends about visiting Rome: one who knows the city and one who knows the history.
High street performance
What does this mean in practice? Take, for example, buying a purple kettle for a re-decorated kitchen. The simple search “purple kettle” (which seems to be pretty unambiguous) returns a long list (3.7 million results, if you are interested) headed by two major UK retailer results – Tesco and Argos.
Click the Tesco link and you get taken to a product range page. Probably a #fail because the user now has to search again to actually find a purple kettle. But it would be easy to justify this as a good result – look how sticky our site is, browsers are spending five minutes looking.
Click on the second link (from Argos) and the experience is different. It takes the user straight through to a purple kettle with pictures, descriptions, links to alternative options and reviews (if there are any).
This customer centric perspective – get me to the thing I want quickest – is clearly the winner. [To give Tesco due credit, it does allow the browser, with one further click to see a range of eight purple kettles].
But if the customer wants to look deeper, at reviews, at technical specs or just to ask a question, just focusing on “Google search” is also going to fail. The customer has many channels to choose from – Google, YouTube, eBay, Trip Advisor and Facebook are just a few examples. Businesses need to stop thinking about how they can best shout about their products in these places and start thinking about how they can answer the consumer request. To put it in business language: the customer is saying “here is my RfP (request for proposals), please respond”.
Search is getting more and more important – it is the start of the customer journey. Companies need to re-focus their efforts away from the search result and towards creating pages that deliver for the customer.
4Ps Marketing is an advanced search agency focused on helping its clients grow their online business. To find out more see www.4psmarketing.com
2014 Prediction in five words
Making search results customer centric
Industry Insights features highly accessible and practical content from experts in the marketing services sector providing you with tools and resources to improve your business performance. If you would like to submit a report to the section contact email@example.com