Commentary

Green:Search

On the fourth Wednesday of the month, Marketing:Green focuses on green media strategies and opportunities within various types of media. (Coming in July: Social Media). Creative, strategic, operational and other media pros are invited to brainstorm and collaborate, with the goal of indelibly cementing "green" into media of all types: Ideas ranging from "so-crazy-it-just-might-work" to "as long as no one gets hurt." This month features the surprisingly under-utilized behemoth: search.

Last month's column explored Sun Chips' brave adoption of a compostable bag as an example of green branding leadership. Coincidentally, this highly Google-spellcheck-dependent author (for some reason, my word processor still has a red squiggle under "compostable") discovered that "compostable" brought up a paid advertisement for Sun Chips new bag. Talk about owning a green concept!

This discovery led to some search analytics research that was surprisingly underwhelming in terms of strategic marketing, but overwhelming in terms of eyeball opportunity for paid search. In green marketing, there are some search terms with millions of competing pages, but no paid ads. Whether you're a small consultancy or a large brand, this could represent a low cost and reasonably targeted window of opportunity.

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A more recent search shows that "compostable" is presently not a paid search term (technical note: this can vary, depending on where you're performing your search). This is surprising, given that there are over 74,000 searches a month performed for this exact phrase. Other phrases that attract close to 10,000 searches a month, but presently possess few to no competitors are: "recycling household waste," "recycling benefits," and "recycling day." "Clean companies" comes in at a whopping 17,000 searches a month, with only one paid competitor and a negligible cost per click. Is there not one major brand out there that does not want to provide 17,000 consumers a month with a comprehensive list of reasons they are the cleanest of their competitors?

The opportunity in green search for brands and companies trickles down to consulting and marketing firms, but is -- as of yet -- relatively unexploited through paid search. With over 500 million competitors for such terms as "green search," it's a wonder why anyone in that space would bother investing in organic search optimization at all. My research indicated no paid competitors for this term that receives over 60,000 queries a month on Google alone. For any green-minded marketing consultancy, this is pure green gold.

To put the present opportunity into perspective, I compared green marketing with other industries. "Financial services" is priced at $10 - 13 per click, whereas "green marketing" is only about $3 - 4, with a very reasonable 90,000+ searches being performed each month. "Green marketing strategies" gets a small but workable 1,000 searches per month, with no exact search string competitors (NB: if you type in "green marketing strategies," you will get paid ads, but they are probably for companies that have bought "green + marketing" or "green + strategies" or even "marketing + strategies").

Since it is priced at pennies per click, it's hard to see why even the smallest consultancies would not buy even $50 per month of this paid advertising. Compared to the hours of copy optimization (or investment in SEO "gurus") required to get top ranking amongst 2.5 million competing pages, there is no question that this is money better spent.

If you're interested in hearing about some of the tools that I use for search analytics, please inquire in the comments below (no, this isn't a plug for software or consulting services). Likewise, if you have any useful tips or strategies to share with others, please expound. Unlike other competitive marketing sectors, it would be nice to see "green" as an area where we can work collaboratively towards a goal of collective wellbeing.

5 comments about "Green:Search ".
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  1. Ruth Barrett from EarthSayers.tv, June 23, 2010 at 11:42 a.m.

    Excellent article and it will hopefully spur more companies with green products and services to use both organic and paid search more aggressively, especially to educate the consumer on the advantages of buying green. This research I think is also applicable to cause-related organizations who are not learning from the commercial side of the Web how strategic search is to being known beyond very small geographical boundaries. BP these last few weeks has run away with search and social media crushing the voices of sustainability.

  2. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., June 23, 2010 at 12:01 p.m.

    Hi Ruth Ann. You and a few others have inquired about the tools I use for search analytic information. Google provides their own tools, but I prefer a third party piece of software that gives you YouTube, Google, Bing and Yahoo analytics information. The software is called KeyWordResearchPro, and is an amazing resource with a lifetime license which gives you updates as the search engines change their algorithms. Important note: I do not have any affiliate deal with this or any other company. Journalistic integrity trumps profit in my view for this writer.

  3. Renee Reese from Assistance League of Charlotte, June 24, 2010 at 10:21 p.m.

    Hi Brad. I am interested in learning about the tools you use for search analytics.

  4. Perry Goldschein from S Dialogue, LLC, June 28, 2010 at 5:26 p.m.

    Appreciate the article, Brad - do your numbers include all variations of the word combinations, just the phrases or exact phrases? If all variations, do they exclude anything irrelevant with the word/name "green" in it? It is cool to still be able to spot keyword "gems," but we've often found unforeseen challenges to overcome, and of course converting traffic is important to most.

  5. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., July 26, 2010 at 5:01 p.m.

    Hi Renée and Perry. I do recommend diving into KeyWordResearchPro. I find it better than google webmaster tools, google analytics and the tool that comes with Adwords, which Google provides once you start creating a new campaign. As far as sorting irrelevancies, this is largely common sense more than anything, and does require a human touch. Without mentioning any names, I am aware of a major agency that invested tends of thousands for a client for "formula". I wonder how many race car enthusiasts were served baby food ads on that one!!!?

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