The SEO, PPC Baloney Sandwich: Total Search Can Be Dangerous

January 25, 2017

I love the clever folks’ ability to make language do tricks. I read “Unleashing the Potential of ‘Total’ Search.” The write up itself strikes me as a bit of content marketing. The objective is to whip up enthusiasm for a Breakfast Briefing “event.” I am okay with PR. I am not okay with taking a nifty word like search and morphing it into one of those online advertising concepts which confuse and lure the unwary.


The SEO and PPC baloney dog. It can be your pal and your meal ticket… if someone bites.

Total search, according to the write up, is “a holistic approach to search marketing which considers SEO [search engine optimization, that old relevance killer] and PPC [pay for click, that buy traffic approach pioneered by years ago] as a single channel.”

Search has a slightly different meaning to some folks here in down home rural Kentucky. offers this definition:

1. to go or look through (a place, area, etc.)carefully in order to find something missing or lost:

They searched the woods for the missing child. I searched the desk for the letter.

2. to look at or examine (a person, object, etc.)carefully in order to find something concealed:

He searched the vase for signs of a crack. The police searched the suspect for weapons.

3. to explore or examine in order to discover:

They searched the hills for gold.

4. to look at, read, or examine (a record, writing,collection, repository, etc.) for information:

to search a property title; He searched the courthouse for a record of the deed to the land. says:

1. To move around in, go through, or look through in an effort to find something: searched the room for her missing earring; searched the desk for a pen.

2. To make a careful examination or investigation of; probe: search one’s conscience for the right thing to do.

3. Law To examine (a person or property) for the purpose of discovering evidence of a crime.

Verb transitive

1. To search a place or space in order to find something: searched all afternoon for my wallet.

2. To make a careful examination or investigation: searching for the right words to say.

3. Law To make a search for evidence.


1. An act of searching.

2. Law The examination of a person or property, as by a law enforcement officer, for the purpose of discovering evidence of a crime.

3. A control mechanism on an audio or video player that rapidly advances or reverses the playing of a recording.

I suppose the inclusion of the word “total” allows the word search to become so much more to the wizard who is defining “total search” as marketing and ad buys.

The “total search” write up explains that “We live in a C2B world.” That means, I believe, “consumer to business world.”

Sorry. I don’t live in that world. I live in a world in which finding specific information, determining which information is either accurate or reasonably credible, and then analyzing that information in an effort to become more informed is important.

Presenting off point, inaccurate information is not my cup of tea.

How does one deliver “total search”? Here’s the “answer”:

There are several ways that a brand can realize the full potential of this approach. Some are fairly simple to implement, such as combining keyword research or aligning landing page testing. These can be merged into a single stream of work by your internal teams or agencies and will lead to immediate returns. Others (unifying leadership and introducing one search objective, for example) are likely to be more involved and may require a radical step-change in your organizational structure, driven from the top down. There are many other ways, which, in combination, can bring more benefits than the sum of the individual parts and drive significant incremental gains. Those brands that embrace a Total Search approach will be the ones that will more frequently be able to solve consumers’ problems and ultimately emerge successful.

There you go.

Think about this type of “search” in these three contexts:

  1. Your child is ill. One of the medical researchers at the hospital where doctors are trying to figure out how to address the disease presenting itself use “total search” to determine a course of action. Forget that baloney about precision and recall when searching the medical literature. Go for the content marketed drugs and the information delivered by an online ad. Care much about your child’s health? What’s your answer, gentle reader?
  2. You are involved in an accident. Three parties are involved, but only you have been injured. Your attorney is struggling to determine what coverage your automobile insurance provides. One of the other parties to the accident has decided to sue you even though your semi autonomous automobile was unable to avoid the collision caused by a vehicle hitting your car from behind. The momentum pushed your vehicle into a day care center van. Are you expecting your attorney to use free online Web search systems to locate legal information germane to your particular situation? How do you select your attorney? An ad supported online search?
  3. You are involved in a government project. You have to assemble information about a specific bad actor in a specific location. Your input will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the mission. This means that young men and women may die if you provide information that is not on point, accurate, and valid for that particular action. Are you prepared to rely on digital systems and content manipulated to get you to read information which is swizzled and promoted?

In each of these situations, the silliness and danger associated with “total search” becomes apparent to me. If you think that “total search” is just the ticket for you, you frighten me. A tainted baloney sandwich with slabs of SEO and PPC is not something too appealing to me. You can explain your preference to your ailing child, the attorney muffing your case, and the parents of the young woman who was killed due to your informational ignorance. Unleash your critical thinking, gentle reader.

Stephen E Arnold, January 25, 2017


One Response to “The SEO, PPC Baloney Sandwich: Total Search Can Be Dangerous”

  1. coders on February 24th, 2017 11:14 am

    nice post

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