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Online strategy IS your business strategy

Ross O. Storey | May 26, 2010
Enterprises warned too many are neglecting search engine marketing.

Optimising an enterprises website so it has high visibility on the Web search engines has become an increasingly important aspect of corporate marketing and I have just finished reading a book which gives some great practical advice about how to do this.

The book is Marketing in the Age of Google (John Wiley & Sons) by search engine consultant Vanessa Fox, a former Google employee, based in the US.

Now theres a 21st century job description for you search engine consultant. Go back 30 years or so and if you used that phrase, most people would think it had something to do with police search and rescue. Back then, it would have been very difficult to explain the role.

Fox argues that today, your online strategy IS your business strategy and that many companies simply dont realise acquiring customers from search engines should be a core business strategy.

Instead, they usually focus on narrow goals, such as boosting page rankings, she says on the book sleeve. These oversights leave a huge channel for engaging with potential customers largely untapped.

Integrating search widely

Foxs book purports to explain how to integrate search strategy into all aspects of your business, how to cut through the data and get the actionable metrics you need, and how to get your company found through social media.

In keeping with the current publishing zeitgeist, the book is laid out similarly to Web pages; easily digestible paragraphs spaced out with plenty of graphics and illustrations. I found it very user-friendly and its a valuable resource, because Fox carefully references her points with an index of URLs at the rear of the book. This means readers can quickly refer to websites relating to the statements she makes in the body text.

And, Fox includes plenty of statistics, which is something I quite enjoy, being a bit of a numbers freak myself (just ask any senior IT executive who has heard me present at seminars and they will concur). For example, she maintains that Americans conduct 22.7 billion online searches every month and worldwide, users type into a search box monthly 131 billion times. This represents 29 million searches every minute.

Fox maintains that to successfully execute your [enterprise] search strategy, you should build its importance into every aspect of the organisation not just marketing.

A successful search strategy depends on IT and engineering, product marketing, business development, marketing and advertising, PR, customer support, user research, user interaction design, and any other department that thinks about the business, customers, product or website, she writes.

Listen to your customers

I found the book quiet enjoyable and one of its themes was that every day, millions of potential customers are telling you exactly what they want. The message is that all enterprises need to do is to learn how to properly listen; that is, to properly analyse potential customer behaviour through web analytics and metrics that are now commonly available, if you know how to use them.


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