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Is your website search a marketing or an IT function?

You can probably guess which one I think it should be. Yes, I am a longtime IT person, but even I will tell you that marketing needs to run your website search, just as marketing probably runs the rest of your website. Now, I know there is a lot of technology involved, and sure, your IT team needs to play a role, just as they do with your website as a whole, but do you let the IT team choose what goes on the home page? Or let them decide which messages you will use for your offerings?

No, you don’t let IT decide any of that. That’s marketing.

Well, then why do you let IT decide which messages show up on the search result page? If marketers have completely handed website search to the IT team, they are asking the IT folks to do a job they are not trained for.

Sure, your IT folks can choose the search engine technology. Yes, they can make sure that it is installed properly, performs well, and has five 9s of uptime. But that is probably what they do for the rest of your website, too. If you put them in charge of the results that the search engine displays, then you’ve given them a role that you don’t give them for the rest of the site.

Marketers must own website search results. Marketers are in charge of the messages shown. Marketers are in charge of the effectiveness of website search in turning lookers into buyers.

So why don’t more marketers take charge of website search? I believe it is because they don’t know what to do. It’s human nature to deny the existence of problems that we don’t know how to solve. But ask yourself–when’s the last time your tried a few searches on your site? If you don’t have an ongoing effort to monitor and improve your website search results, it’s time to figure out what you don’t know. I work with clients every day in website search who started in the same place you are–the only difference is that they didn’t end there.

Your prospects are desperately trying to find the information you put there so they can become customers. Remember, if they can’t find it, they can’t buy it. You want them to find it.

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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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