The holidays sure keep us busy don’t they!? I confess my recent intermittent posts are not a result of the busy season but attention to new research and my support of a couple remarkable blogs.
I anxiously await the results of a comprehensive study of online searcher behavior correlated with online activity and time spent, all categorized by product type. That’s a complicated way of saying I’ve asked comScore to study what people search for and when, and what websites they consult and when, by product. Too many studies today are generalized to address the needs and questions of as many people as possible; in the process those studies fail to answer any real questions. Consider the Biggest E-Retail Day in History (is anyone surprised?), the Growth in Holiday E-Commerce Spending Driven by More Online Buyers Who Spend More, and Cyber Santa Shopping Stats Sky High, so what? This research and insight sensationalizes the season with big numbers and record setting performance but fails to deliver anything of real value for your business. Your brand and products’ strengths are unique to your catalog such that what you do and where you advertise must be unique to your experience. I want to know how my customers search and where they spend their time before making a purchase so I can market to them in the right place with the right message at the right time.
Consider going even further with such questions when you ask them yourself. How are those behaviors different for customers who buy direct (from a manufacturer or publisher) or indirect (retailer) and online vs. offline. I assure you, someone who buys online uses search differently than their neighbor who intends to buy in a store.
While managing that study, I’ve also spent more time with ComparisonEngines.com, Loveyourfeed.com, and NaturalSearchBlog. As you may have caught on, I endeavor to consider myself well rounded with experience in various types of online marketing; though my blog name suggests a focus on SEO (rather, it is more accurately a play on Search Engine O’Brien not Search Engine Optimization O’Brien), you have found my waxing and waning through various topics. These 3 sites are best in class for their respective fields and I’ve been honored with contributing my thoughts so, from time to time, you will find me there discussing Comparison Shopping, datafeeds, and natural search in more detail as a guest writer or contributor.
NaturalSearchBlog is a walk through Search Marketing and Optimization started by Stephan Spencer and Brian Klais of Netconcepts (a web design and consulting company specializing in search optimization of web sites and applications) and later joined by Chris Smith of SuperPages.com. I’ve always found their content refreshing and of tremendous value in stretching your perspective of search. While the blog is valuable I do intend to take this opportunity to share something of real value to you, a product available from NetConcepts called GravityStream.
Consider that a good website is a tug of war between user experience, conversion, and PR with SEO while being dependent on your company’s resources. Sure you can accomplish both user experience and SEO but doing so with limited resources is much more difficult. The new Nike site is a great example of tremendous success in developing for the user experience and PR though it fails to support natural search engines. GravityStream replicates your website giving you a canvas with which to design (redesign) and write exclusively for search by creating a version of the site to be seen only by search engines. You can change URLs (normalize them), remove scripted navigation, and rewrite content and titles. It effectively takes the management of that content out of IT and web design resources (unless you want to keep it there) and puts it in your hands, marketing’s hands, the SEO. Check it out.