Clever Marketing or Objective Search Results

March 27, 2010

I think about the hassles I have with search engine optimization poobahs. I get emails asking me for backlinks to sites I would never visit. Seminars, online diagnostics, and conferences attempt to lure me with every inducement short of coming to my office to serenade me.

What’s up?

My view is that people are not too keen on searching. Most users are in a hurry and want the type of information that can be gleaned from a straightforward analysis of log files. I think of this as the approach taken by TV Guide, when it was one of the most widely read publications in the US.

I thought of this when I read the Mediapost write up “How Paid Search Helped One Company Buy Its Way To The Top.” The article does a good job of explaining the lengths to which companies will go to get traffic and then make a sale. The case example is TomTom’s effort to unseat Garmin from the top spot for navigation systems.

The solution was to tap good old fashioned merchandising, software from Searchandise Commerce, and Endeca. The most interesting passage in the write up was:

Searchandise works with in-site search providers like Endeca to integrate information. Retailers deliver information on their inventory nightly to Searchandise, which takes the information and matches it to search campaigns and uploads the information back to the retailer’s inventory system. Gores [Searchandise executive] would like to see Searchandise develop a search engine optimization model where the technology considers click-through rates.

What’s fascinating is that as this effort to get traffic was ramping, mobile devices seemed to be gaining traction in the navigation space. Is this marketing to retain a market under technology pressure? Is this an effort to deliver more objective search results to those who choose to deal with key words and the densely packed pages common on shopping sites?

I am on the fence, but I think the mobile device shift may be a more significant change factor than trying to figure out how to pop up in a Google results list. Who sells navigation devices in China? Is it Google, Baidu, or Bing?  Perhaps this approach to SEO is out of step with broader market conditions?

Nevertheless, the case is fascinating.

Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2010

No one paid me to write this. I will report it to the Webmaster of GSA’s FedBizOps where great searching is the norm. I test the system by searching for “GB-7007”. Give it a try.


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