Let’s face it, search is not sexy. It’s rarely at the top of the agenda in annual reports or all-company meetings. It’s rarely acknowledged outside of marketing departments. “Did you see X-company’s latest search ranking results?” is not a question you’ll hear at parties.
But it’s extremely important to a business’ overall success. Recently, SearchDex surveyed 100 marketers about the importance of search for their business, and the results reveal its value. Nearly all marketers believe search is a key business strategy — 93% said it was “extremely” or “very” important to have high search rankings. Indeed, many indicated the consequences of poor SEO strategy and execution were a loss of consumer interest, loyalty and trust and, ultimately, lower profits. (More coverage of this survey can be found here.)
At the same, time, however, a significant majority (91%) acknowledged difficulties managing their SEO, with problems ranking from building a good team, coordinating strategy and an inability to analyze data. While many (96%) of them said they could benefit from using an automated solution to help keep track of their search programs (and, unsurprisingly, SearchDex believes it has the best solution with its SDX Hyperloop platform that allows marketers to update Web sites without setting up an IT ticketing system), there are a few things everyone can do to make their search programs more valuable.
Get your content in shape. We’ve said this many times before, but search is no longer simply a keyword game. Google’s algorithms are getting more sophisticated, and giving more weight to valuable content. That means everything you put on the Internet has to bring value to the consumer transaction. The information has to be informative, valuable and current.
“If a consumer’s first interaction with your brand is your product or service popping up as the result of an irrelevant search query, the opportunity for a good experience will be lost,” says SearchDex CEO David Chaplin.
Recognize the customer journey. Search is generally a top-of-funnel activity (though the idea of a funnel is a bit outdated). A searching consumer may not be ready to purchase immediately after clicking on a search result, and that’s why it’s important to have robust retargeting and other secondary campaigns. If a top-funnel consumer likes where the search click takes them, they’re likely to bypass the search bar when they’re ready to buy, and come directly to your Web site.
“A good SEO activation becomes a direct-load customer for a retailer later,” Chaplin says. “There’s a way to build ongoing trust through other engagements.”
Maintain your brand. At a time when everyone can find whatever they’re looking for and can compare prices in an instant, the real value a company has with its customers is its brand. The searcher who has an unsatisfying post-click experience will not be back to make a purchase.
“The power of online is in the hands of the searcher,” Chaplin says. “When someone lands on a page, they should be satisfied with the result.”
Though search may be the uncelebrated workhorse of the marketing department, it should not be an afterthought. These few tips can help every company stay relevant even as search becomes more automated, and even less sexy. Given, the importance marketers have placed on search for the company’s overall performance, it’s still a vital part of business.
“The ROI of doing search right is totally worth it,” Chaplin says.