In a world where Google has become synonymous with search, businesses will need to learn how to use this in their marketing strategies. More and more consumers are finding their way to the web in hope of finding what they are looking for. Whether it is a new digital camera or the latest news stories, the internet has become the gatekeeper of information. As businesses start to catch on to the ways their consumers are finding their and their competitive services. The more they must realize the value of having a presence on the web and getting the consumer to their site.
This sounds easier than it really is, but luckily Trademark Productions was fortunate enough to sit down with Vanessa Fox. She is not only a former Google employee, where she created Webmaster Central, but she is also an on-line marketing extraordinaire. She has her hands in just about everything she’s with Ignition Partners, contributing editor at Search Engine Land, and hosts the webmaster radio show called Office Hours. She is also a frequent speaker on the on-line marketing circuit and has a book coming out called Marketing In the Age of Google. As you can tell Vanessa has a full plate but was still willing to sit down and share a lot of very helpful and useful tips, all search and internet related.
Vanessa started her career in marketing back in 1995. She spent a lot of her time looking at user experience which allowed her to better understand audiences and putting together user interaction. “I sort of always was approaching projects sort of with that user-centric focus. I did a lot of working with developers and that kind of thing. I also at the same time started getting into Web development” explained Vanessa. From here she became the webmaster of the company she worked for. She added that to her understanding of user experiences and began building websites. Soon enough she landed a gig with Google and things really started to take off.
“I did end up at Google and started working in search and I put together Webmaster Central. Then we started working on getting the alliance between Google and Microsoft and Yahoo!. As I was working on that project, I really started to realize that there was a lot more that could be done with that relationship in terms of everyone in the world that has a Website and what they care about in terms of organic search with Google”
This is where the idea of Webmaster Central came about. As she realized this was really important and there hasn’t been much done like this before, there was still an issue of scalability. There were a lot of site owners, “We realized that site maps was a great start in terms of communication with site owners, but there was a lot more that was possible.” Even though she may not be with Google anymore, Vanessa still uses these ideas. She still has the user-centric mindset and tries her best to think like the users because if you want to rank well in the search results you are obviously trying to get visitors for a reason.
“I feel like sometimes we get focused on the ranking aspect of SEO, because that kind of seems like the most important. We can accidentally sometimes lose sight of sort of what the purpose of the ranking is.”
This is where keeping a user-centric approach in mind because this is the content that search engines are looking to rank. This will also help you endure algorithm shifts too as they are continually changing. You should think more along the line of what the algorithm is trying to accomplish versus what a specific algorithm is doing today. Once you understand how search engines work your site can be built to accommodate what they are looking for. Vanessa explains, “Build sites that allow them to both do well in search engines and really have a good experience for users, so that they can meet their own goals.” There is definitely a mutual relationship between websites and search engines. The search engines couldn’t exist without the content on websites, but websites wouldn’t get the audiences they needed without the search engines. It creates a nice balance.
“There are a lot of intersections with search and social media. I think social media certainly has a lot of benefits on its own. It’s very similar to the evolution of search.”
Much like search social media presents companies the potential to reach a lot more consumers. Thinking before search, companies would put an 800 number on the back of product incase a consumer had an inquiry. That’s not the case anymore. Consumer behavior is changing as technology changes. Now all someone has to do is type a few words in, click a button, and the majority of the information they are looking for is in front of them. Social media goes beyond that, where they can become friends/follows of the company right on Facebook or Twitter. It has come to the point where social media will be integrated with search. Vanessa explained there are two ways of approaching search. “One is, what are the evergreen or long-term types of searches that people do, which you can build on that content? Then you also have topical stuff, which is just maybe someone’s searching for it this week. They’re not going to be searching for it next month.” You want to be in front of both searchers and you can do this by having a website and a blog of your own. However, social media goes beyond that and allows you to get your message out there in various ways.
“I feel like we’re getting to the point where search is being more built into organizations as a regular part of the business and marketing processes.”
While a lot of organizations and company are attempting to merge search into the marketing plans, many might not know how to do this. That is exactly why Vanessa wrote Marketing In the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy is Your Business Strategy. “This book isn’t necessarily written for SEOs, for people that already understand how search works. It’s more written for people who are running a business or run marketing or products for an organization, and they just never really thought of search as part of that.” Most people are now using the internet and search to obtain the information they are looking for. If a business doesn’t look at search as a possible marketing strategy then they might be missing where their customers are going. It is important for business to evolve at the same pace with their customers. Businesses need to understand that their customers have moved on to new things and if they want to still actively engage them, they should do the same.
“A lot of times what will make a site better for search engines are also what are going to make it better for people. Certainly it’s generally always the case that what makes it better for search engines are going to make it better for screen readers and mobile devices.”
There is a chance that you can even go beyond the idea that what will make a site better for search will also make things better for anyone interacting with the site. It’s not all thinking about rankings and trying to rank first. Think about that, but try to capture the user experience at the same time. If you rank high that is great, but once you get the user there it is vital for them to have a good experience so they will come back, pass the word on, etcetera. It is the life cycle that really matters. Otherwise all the work you did for ranking will turn to be a wasted effort.
We would like to thank Vanessa Fox for taking out some time from her busy schedule and sharing some of her immense amount of knowledge. If you are interested in more information from Vanessa, please check out here book, Marketing in the Age of Google.