"We now live in a day and age where almost every first (and ongoing) brand interaction happens at the search box," Joel says. "Think about the last time someone told you about a brand. Odds are you did not rush down to the nearest store to check it out. You probably did a quick search online to see what's being said and read what others are saying."
He also reiterates how important it is to monitor search results across the "lesser" engines--Yahoo and MSN--since so much attention is focused on Google rankings. Joel says that knowing which sites are linking to you, in particular, can yield another layer of insight into how your brand is being perceived.