At the same time, Search is the number one channel consumers use to inform their purchase decisions with half (49%) of consumers using it. Search is now more influential than recommendations from friends and family which dropped from 72% in 2017 to 46% in 2018.
One reason that consumers are turning to Search is convenience. Search is easily accessible and can be done instantly wherever and whenever using a mobile phone - it’s actually more convenient than talking to friends and family. And it’s private!
However, three-quarters of consumers never scroll past the first page of search results, so the simple objective of any Search strategy is to appear on the first page, and as high up as possible. This is easier said than done, but here are four tips to get you started.
1. Understand your audience and target market
An understanding of the technical elements that help drive SEO is important, but equally important is having a thorough understanding of what your target audience is searching for online, and taking it into account when developing your Search strategy.
Take Alinta Energy for example. Up until April 2016, Alinta Energy was an established gas provider in the company’s home state of Western Australia. In fact, it held around 90% of market share – the only competition in WA being Kleenheat. Unlike WA, the remaining East Coast states of Australia had a mature energy provider market with lots of players.
Salmat’s worked to set and execute its Paid Search campaign to streamline Alinta Energy’s targeting, with the goal of growing sales. Salmat’s objectives were twofold:
1. Defend Alinta Energy’s dominant position within the WA energy market while new players entered the market
2. Help the company move and further grow into remaining states (QLD, NSW, VIC and SA)
The energy market is highly competitive and fast-moving in Search, demonstrated by the amount of direct competitors and indirect competitors (price comparison sites) bidding on the brand terms of each provider. Salmat’s strategy was to monitor the competition and reactively target audiences via an advertising Search campaign. Targeting the right audience via Search resulted in Alinta Energy seeing a 163% increase in Direct Sales (tripling previous sales) that were generated via paid Search.
2. Sign up to local online directories
More and more consumers are turning to search engines to find local services and businesses. In fact, more than 50% of online searches now specify a location – it’s called ‘local intent’. This means consumers are specifically including the name of a city, town or postcode in their search request. What’s more, people are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to search for services at the precise time and location they need them.
That’s why it is important to optimise your local visibility using the full potential of online directories. Start with the most important directories such as Google, Facebook, Bing and Apple Maps, but don’t stop there. Creating a Google My Business account that shows positive Google reviews can assist with click through rate and reputation perception of brand as well as maintain key real estate in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
Local SEO ranking is also determined by your website content. Simply having a few city-specific webpages isn’t enough. Be sure to review your whole site, looking at even the smallest on-page elements, to see how you can up your local SEO ranking.
3. Invest in SEM, but be sure to optimise your spend
In addition to SEO, marketers should look into SEM which is a great channel to drive online sales but also generate demand. There are a number of different SEM options you could consider as part of your overall marketing strategy including: search ads, display ads and remarketing.
The more competitive your market, the more expensive keywords will be. However, if you are smart and look at using a combination of search terms and audience targeting to optimise your campaigns, you can ensure your campaigns are more cost effective.
For example, in the energy market, people that are moving house are a highly relevant audience. Targeting movers with the right message when they are preparing their move is important to ensure your brand is included in the consideration set. Once they have clicked through to your site, you can continue to remarket to them to increase the likelihood of a sale. That is why a campaign based on Search and user journey-targeting is key to reaching the right audience.
4. Start experimenting with voice
Search is important because the act of searching is firmly part of the path to purchase today. However, we are on the cusp of a new type of search taking hold - voice. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen.
There are already a number of voice innovations that marketers can use to reach early adopters. For example, Lasoo List is a voice activated experience that uses online catalogue data to present consumers with the best deals for items on their shopping list.
A local tyre and automotive brand we worked with identified the potential of voice, and implemented voice search via the Google Assistant to ensure it could reach further customers. We worked with them to identify the most relevant and common voice query behaviour in relation to the website. This included location-based voice queries and the upcoming use of schema mark-up for Google Voice Assistant.
By experimenting with voice now, brands can start to develop their voice strategy and capabilities to ensure they are in a good position when voice becomes mainstream.
Search is not just about helping consumers find your website. It’s about realising the investment you have put into your website, ensuring it continues to receive quality traffic. Further, Search is now firmly part of consumer shopping behaviour, and as marketers, we need to ensure our channel choice, activities and investments match those behaviours.