ADOTAS – Search is the new navigation, so goes the mantra today – and that means search, in all of its forms, has become a key ingredient for the success of any online business. Since online users are now conditioned to quickly search for information instead of browsing for it – and are quick to abandon a site if they don’t find what they came for – search is a feature that you, as marketers, must study closely.
To complicate the picture a bit, there are three categories of search you need to monitor and understand: web search, social search, and eCommerce search. While each approach shares similarities with the other, they each also have their own unique attributes that are important to pay attention to and better understand. And each search ‘flavor’ is always in the process of evolving – borrowing tools and features from the others to ensure the overall industry is constantly and consistently improving and meeting customer needs.
Take tools like Auto Complete, for example, where keyword suggestions appear in the search box as the searcher is typing. Or Rich Auto Complete, which, in addition to search suggestions, displays thumbnail product images. These features were born out of eCommerce search and later adopted by web search engines in an attempt to improve the customer experience. Now, with Facebook’s entre into the market with its new graph search and the growing need for search on mobile sites, it will be important to watch how today’s search leaders continue to learn from each other and provide new features and functionality in order to better market to your target audiences and ultimately drive sales.
Most of you likely spend your time on SEO strategies through monitoring web search engines and fine-turning your SEO efforts based on web search alone, as SEO remains king in the online marketing world. However, you might consider a more holistic approach and work to develop greater awareness and knowledge of all three types of search so you can expand efforts and successfully promote your brand long-term and in the most effective fashion. Spend the time to understand the search “intersection” and how you can utilize one type of search to improve results via another.
- Take for example the way site search can help significantly improve SEO campaigns. The most straightforward tactic is to examine site search data for the search terms that site visitors are using, then see how those search terms correlate to products that you want to promote. Voila: you now know the best keywords to use in your SEO campaigns.
- Another smart strategy: Use your site search solution to create landing pages that are customized to SEO keywords. These landing pages can contain information or products relating to a web search term, giving potential site visitors the perfect place to jump-start the browsing process on your site. These pages can be indexed by the major search engines, which also helps rev up SEO efforts.
- It also helps to keep in mind that Google, the 900-lb. gorilla, isn’t the only search engine out there – so when you pull site search data to use in SEO efforts, remember to get more mileage out of the data by putting it to use beyond Google. Bing, for example, is slowly building a following: Bing powers search on Yahoo!, which gives it about a 28 percent share of the web search market. And Bing recently announced its search engine will power Facebook’s new Graph Search tool, giving the Bing engine even more reach.
As far as social search, like what Facebook provides, the jury may still be out on how it will intersect with the other forms of search marketers must monitor and manage. The early buzz is that Facebook search, whose results are influenced by your network and “likes,” may take audience share away from Google and other major search engines. As marketers, it’s worth watching to see what strategies we’ll be able to borrow from social search – and how it will impact your work with SEO and site search projects long-term.