The internet has become fundamental to the economy. Billions of people worldwide use it. Over time, it has grown from an experimental research network and now underpins a range of economic activities. There is enough evidence to believe that there is a strong relationship between search technologies and marketing. Search is the single most popular use of the World Wide Web since the beginning of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Internet marketers need to understand search trends that are fast changing in all online marketing channels so that they can better manage the search marketing opportunities.
A recent survey from Pew Internet shows that that search is one of the top online activities. ‘In total, 92 per cent of Internet users search, with 59 per cent doing so on a regular basis. Even the silver citizen (65 years and above) category had a high rating, with 87 per cent searching and 37 per cent doing so on a daily basis.’ That is what has makes search marketing an essential business process.
Nothing exhibits the growing importance of search marketing more than the quantum of searches. Persistent progress in search technologies has made search marketing as an important factor for online business success. Search technologies have put plethora of tools and techniques at the disposal of common users that have actually revolutionise the way anything is accessed online. On the other hand, search professionals and marketers are also using host of backend tools like Web analytic tools and HTML valuators to become visible in online searches.
More search techniques are coming up every day and the search engines are trying to adjust with changing consumer behaviors. Consumers set the rules of the game. A study shows that over 40 per cent of the queries entered into search engines consist of proper nouns, such as the names of specific people or places or things. Combinations of proper nouns and nouns might make up over 70 per cent of most searches. Search engines as well as search marketers are keenly trying to gain more insight into how people search, and how they can provide better results based upon the way that people conduct searches online.
Search technologies are built for common users, not websites. Businesses need to understand how users are trying to reach them. To do this, businesses need to learn more about what users search for. Broadly speaking, some users search for classical information retrieval. Some search to reach a particular website. Search trend watchers say that they are seeing important shifts in users’ behavior like many users now put URLs into the search box in order to get to a target site. When users have conducted all the research and are ready to make decision to take action like shop online, download premium information, or find and register for a service on the web then they finally go for transactional search. Potential buyers conducting transactional searches are more willing to comb through the search results then those conducting informational or navigational searches. Transactional searchers might click through several pages of results until they find exactly what they are looking for.
Transactional web searchers are likely buyers ready to spend money to purchase a product or service online. Interestingly, before parting with the money, transitional searchers interact with other connected consumers. They find what they want and get information about it, placing more value in non-traditional sources, before they make a purchase.
Business need to view search marketing as an important process. It involves everything that can be done to utilise the technology of search engines with the goal of promoting a web site from vying for top position inside search results to increasing its traffic.
As e-commerce has become a worldwide phenomenon and the era of digital divide is almost over. Developing economies like Pakistan can bring about a big economic change with effective use of search technology. While there were once big gaps between demographics, search marketing in less saturated markets still is an excellent opportunity for Pakistani marketers. Businesses only need to act smartly on how to take advantages of the internet search in order to reach out to any market in the world. Pakistan can accrue large-scale benefits out of the search technology development by creating relevant information that satisfies the users’ intent in any targeted market at the right time only by following the changing search trends. Search marketers have developed the skill set for converging digital marketing channels. But search engines may not always look the way they do. Search marketers need to keep changing with the technology, moving forward and adapting to new possibilities, never giving up. Look over the horizon a bit. If you are not on search marketing yet, get caught up as fast as you can. This is the profit search era.
The writer is Deputy Controller of Examination at Lahore School of Economics. He blogs at http://logicisvariable.blogspot.com and can be reached at [email protected]