Advertising Age ran an article titled “Search Shifts Means Visibility Must be Earned, Not Paid” – does this infer that brand reputation and search engine optimization are correlated? If so, this has many ramifications.
One of which is that marketers should devote more attention to SEO rather than SEM, as the title in Advertising Age suggests. Pull demand is the force online, consumers look to the internet for information and education to help them make a more informed decision. They are unlike our forefathers who fall over to pressured advertising and hard sell. The generation today seek info and pull info towards them, they want companies to educate them not hard sell them. Hence its more of a PULL marketing at play here.
In the fast paced, interconnected world that we live in today, consumers are going to talk about your company regardless if you have entered the online space. So what you do offline campaigns, online campaigns, customer service, product quality will be talked about online. And these conversations can make or break your brand reputation. As part of SEM, one of the variable of a getting ranked higher, content needs to be refreshed and of course rich in content, conversations and (as a result interactions with other consumers) can be a very powerful variable in pushing up your brand name (be it positively or negative publicity) in Search Engines.
Consumers want to know what is the reputation of a firm (especially if its a new firm/product and they need to find a reason to trust you and develop a relationship) and what others have been saying about this particular company or product. Hey isnt that social marketing? Are you involved? Well regardless if you are involved or not, arent they still engaging in a conversation about your company? How would this affect your brand reputation and your sales figures? If your research studies shows that a fair number of your customers are online (well recent Google studies suggests that a vast majority of people are online and the number of hours spent online is increasing year on year) – so what does that suggest?
People are searching, people are also perhaps engaging in long-tail searches on your company and your product – as you know long tail searchers are people who are at the tipping point of buying or not buying your products. So having good or bad pages on the 1st or 2nd page of Google or Yahoo! may be a deal winner or breaker for you – depends how it swings.
As we move forward, I share the same as the author in Advertising Age, people are getting more involved in searching for brands and the search is getting more social – they want to read more about how others have to say about the company and the product – its no longer PUSH marketing but PULL marketing at play here. Not new I might say, in the past we have always trusted our friends more than than companies’s advertisement. But the differences here is the speed and the reachness and richess of the online medium that differs from yesteryears.
So concluding, I personally feel that your brand reputation and search engine are correlated – be it good or bad reputation – if it hits on the first or second page of search engines, it has the power to swing customers to you or to your competitors. Search Marketing is not just about generating leads, its also a strategy in itself that goes beyond selling a product.
What are your thoughts here? I’m keen to hear what you have to say.
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