Has the term 'Google it' lost its previous weight in Ad dollar?
It wasn't so long ago that all you had to do to find anything of value and relevance was jump onto the google machine and type half of what you were looking for and autocomplete would do the rest for you; however is the search giant losing its guided concierge ticket to sales through poor experience?
Google is waging legal battles (whether politically motivated or not) due to 'persuading' results that have dug it a whole into the realms of anti-competitive behaviour - not to mention they're hiding the spikes and troughs of keyword Ad costs (were they falling, an indicator of retraction?).
Google has had to endure the uprising of social platforms and an unbundling of services never witnessed before, buzzwords of 'social commerce', 'reputation capital', 'influencers' have erupted off the back of phenomenal growth from locations where potential customers go to... ... well, socialise. But what happens when those services become platforms with their own search identity, their own commerce triggers and their own built in rewards for actions, intrinsic and extrinsic.
When a customer is unsure on what they're looking for, unsure of who sells the product and unsure about the relevance and performance attributes of a product, they query it. An investigatory line of inquiry.
- What is the correct nail for plywood
- Best washing machine manufacturers
- Will T-Cut remove scratches from glass
- Nearest Paul Smith store
Google has become the home to 'questioning commerce' and has been for some time but the debate on whether you should consider snubbing the search giant for more niche, social modes of customer acquisition is straight up crazy.
The cost of high value keywords is much less attractive to social acquisition budgets but if you're going after premium keywords then you're failing to address the symptomatic behaviours (and potential growth) that exists within Google's bizarre long-tail of search queries.
Who is the target customer
Successful campaigns will include thousands of keywords, thousands of questioning iterations and you're best to deploy a SaaS solution that can assist you on this path; better yet run a semantic analysis through predictive intelligence solutions to do the heavy lifting for you. Not many SEO agencies will suggest the latter for obvious reasons. Structuring customer profiles, triggers, demographics, necessities and motivations and a few other attributes is something you need to be doing yourselves, not outsourcing to an agency that doesn't understand your customer and doesn't have access to your data (or at least shouldn't). This is a separate post in itself that will be given more attention.
So where does Google now sit in the customer journey - it's no longer at the centre of it, it's not always at the beginning of it, it's certainly not at the end of it.
It comes down to context and relevance; how notable are the products you're selling, are they aspirational, are they commodities, how competitive is the landscape, are there recognisable brands and stores that are selling said products, what affiliation does the customer have to the brand or segment.
These reasons underpin why Google has lost relevance inside the customer journey, sure Amazon is eating into its share however brands and stores have built rapport inside their social identities; whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Vine and now recently Snapchat or Periscope. This is evolving further inside Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat, Line, Viber, Telegram, KakaoTalk and that's before Siri, Cortana and Alexa come to the party.
Google's Assistant is stepping into this domain but there's a lagging feeling that they're following trends as opposed to building them but with a search catalogue as a foundation, Assistant could yet be a powerful tool for the world's most utilised OS on the planet, Android.
Upon asking for the weather; Assistant might not only tell you it's going to rain but suggest a number of relevant brands based on your search history that you'll pass by on your way to work, pictures and prices included.
This does pose questions concerning intimacy of commerce, consumer protection, spam and a lot more but it does indicate that being relevant and active within Google with SEO and paid placement could still be key in unlocking sales.
Don't be so hasty to substitute Google for a thoroughbred social strategy in positioning your brand, while abundantly required to be active socially in the relevant categories, search presence and indexing is still going to play a significant role in the early days of AI activated commerce strategies.
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