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Is your website search engine a random web page generator?

 
Harsh question, I know, but the search results for many website search engines appear almost random. The reason I am familiar with this situation is because clients often ask me for help. They usually start by telling me that their search engine stinks. Now, sometimes it does, but not usually. More frequently, they haven’t done anything except install a search engine. That works about as well as just installing a CRM system. If you just let your search engine lay there, don’t expect to like the results.

Ask yourself something. Who is responsible for your website search, marketing or IT? If the answer is the IT group, that is probably your first mistake. Don’t get me wrong–I am an old IT person and they do great work. But, they do great IT work, not great marketing work.

search box created by the code from the ProQue...
Photo credit: The Shifted Librarian

Your IT group has probably chosen a good search engine, installed it properly, and made sure that it is running fine. But that doesn’t mean that it is finding the right pages when people search.

Finding the right content for each customer’s search is not merely a technical exercise. Here are a few of the things that must go right for your client to find the right page and buy something from you:

  • You must know the search keywords that your customers use
  • You must know which content should come up for those keywords
  • You must ensure that the proper content is created
  • You must make sure that the content is stored in the search index
  • You must make sure that the content is optimized to come up at the top of the results
  • You must tweak the search engine’s ranking algorithm to find the right pages for the top results
  • You must attract the searcher’s click on the search result
  • You must entice the searcher to complete a purchase

Look back over the list. Yes, a few of these are IT tasks, but most of the require knowledge of the customer, bit technology. If you haven’t had your marketing team think through these steps as  a team with IT, I bet you think your search engine stinks.

To learn more about improving your website search, join us on June 18 at 11 am ET for our next Biznology webinar, Making Money from Website Search. To go even deeper into the subject, contact us for a Biznology Jumpstart Workshop on Website Search with your team.

 

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. […] steps to close the sale. Still, others find their website search often isn’t much better than a “random webpage generator”. Many more might be monitoring site search data, but don’t know how to improve conversions by […]

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