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The search marketing no one talks about

Search has been around a long time–since 1995–and even Google has been around since 1998. You would think that by now that we would all be doing every kind of search marketing there is. And most of us think that we are. But most of us are wrong.

I am sure that you are working on organic search, which most folks like to call Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. And everyone knows about paid search, so I suspect that those marketers for whom it works are using it. And there are smaller offshoots of search, such as local search and app store optimization that some companies need.

But most of the clients I work with need website search, on-site search, or whatever you want to call the search that the site itself controls. And very few companies really do it well.

Here is what I hear, when I ask about website search:

  • What is that? This is not a great answer, but at least it is an honest one. The fact that I regularly hear that answer is my proof that this is the most hidden of all search marketing techniques.
  • We don’t have a website search. 
  • The IT team handles that. Well, sure they do. And they handle your content management system and your web servers, but you don’t have them in charge of the content that shows up on the site. They shouldn’t be in charge of the search results, either, because they legitimately do not know which marketing messages are the right ones to show.
  • No one uses it. Maybe that is because it is godawful. What other part of your site is something that no one uses and you are OK that it just sits there costing you money? (Not just the money to run it, but the money you are losing because people don’t use it to find the information that gets them closer to buying from you.)
  • It’s terrible, but there’s nothing we can do. This is the saddest answer, because there is plenty that a marketer can do, but most marketers haven’t tried to find out. I work with companies every day to improve their website search, so it is not only possible, but a lot easier than people expect.

If you are already working very hard on SEO and maybe on paid search to get new visitors to come to your site, why aren’t you working equally hard on your website search?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital 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, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. 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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