BrandVerity published a study on Jan. 21, 2020 that says 63% of online consumers are unaware of how search engines work. As a result, brands run the risk of impacting their brand perception and customer experience. BrandVerity’s Online Consumer Search Trends report 2020 was commissioned to research over 1,000 US consumers. The report also examines the roles Amazon and Google play when it comes to branded and unbranded search.
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In this exclusive Martech Buzz conversation, David Naffziger, CEO of BrandVerity, holds forth on how marketers can overcome the uncertainty of how search engines algorithms keep changing.
Naffziger leads the company’s paid search monitoring and web compliance software services.
Here are some excerpts from the insightful conversation with MarTech Advisor:
MarTech Advisor: BrandVerity recently commissioned the Online Consumer Search Trends 2020 report. What are the top 3 insights and learnings that marketers can draw from these trends?
David: Amongst the result, three main themes stand out:
1. Consumers are confused by how search engine results work
Only 37% of consumers understand that search engine results are categorized by a combination of relevance and advertising spend. The other 63% of consumers believe that Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are categorized by either relevance or spend, or they simply “don’t know.” Additionally, nearly 1-in-3 consumers (31%) say they don’t believe search engines do a good job of labeling which links are ads.
2. Customers trust websites that appear at the top of the SERP
Consumers are more inclined to trust the result that appears first – 54% of consumers say they trust websites more that appear at the top of the SERP, believing it to be the most relevant option. With consumers equating trust with SERP position, it is even more important for brands who value consumer trust to appear at the top of the search results.
3.Consumers feel misled by the websites they find in the search engine results
Fifty-one percent of consumers say that when searching for information on a product, they sometimes feel misled by one of the websites in the search results. An additional 1-in-4 (25%) report feeling misled “often” or “always.” Even further, 1-in-4 also say they often end up somewhere unexpected that does not provide them with what they were looking for when clicking on a search result.
These themes illustrate how a general uncertainty of how search engines work, combined with the significant occurrence of poor online journeys are diluting the experiences that consumers are having with brands online. The main learning from this is that marketers must truly emphasize maintaining oversight of their paid search programs. In doing so, they can alleviate some of the consequences that the lack of understanding of how search works is having and ensure that customers end up where they expect, and ultimately, where brands want them to.
Learn More: Link Building for 2020: What Works and What to Avoid
MarTech Advisor: What are your top 3 tips for marketers to overcome the uncertainty of how search engines algorithms keep changing?
David: Instead of trying to predict the substance and timing of future algorithm changes, focus on the things you can control, including the following:
1. Your brand and customer experience should remain consistent and be a priority when it comes to your time and investment. You should always be thinking about how consumers find your brand online and optimizing that experience.
2. As part of protecting your brand online, regularly check to make sure your partners and affiliates are abiding by their partnership agreements. Enforce those agreements by contacting partners who aren’t playing by the rules. Consider ending partnerships with those companies that aren’t true partners, while deepening the partnerships that work.
3. Stay informed on changing search engine rules and advertising policies. These policies impact how you and your competitors advertise, especially in highly regulated industries.
MarTech Advisor: How will paid search programs affect the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) in 2020 and beyond?
David: With paid search ad spend surpassing $100 billion for the first time in 2019, accounting for 17% of global ad spend, paid search advertising will continue to play an important role in the digital marketing mix in 2020.
Combine the dominance of search with the fact that consumers are more inclined to trust and click on the top of the SERP, and it becomes clear that there are still many benefits to being in position one. While you may not be able to outspend competitors with deep pockets who are set on holding the top spot on the SERP, you can monitor and ensure that your competitors and affiliates are following search engine trademark rules and abiding by their partnership agreements in order to maximize your incremental revenue.
Only those who follow the rules should ever outrank you. Keeping an eye on the SERP and how your customers find you online, will also help you protect your brand and ensure a smooth customer experience.
MarTech Advisor: How can brands gain a better understanding of the search experiences their customers are having and how they are impacting brand perception and the customer experience in 2020?
David: While technology can certainly help with journey mapping, the best way to find out about a customer’s online experience is to ask them, whether it be through surveys, conversations with your customer success teams, or going out “into the field” and engaging with your customers in person. There are three questions you should always be asking: Where does search fit into their customer journey? What are the touchpoints they make while searching for your product or service? Is their experience the cohesive one you’d like them to have?
Learn More: How to Improve Organic Search: Q&A with Will Robins of Manscaped
BrandVerity protects the world’s leading brands online by safeguarding their digital marketing programs and ensuring they remain compliant in today’s ever-evolving online landscape. BrandVerity’s Paid Search Monitoring and Web Compliance solutions use proprietary technology to automatically discover and monitor partners, affiliates, and third parties, online worldwide to help you maximize your revenue potential online and create better customer experiences.
MarTech Buzz is a series of conversations on the news of the week. The series focuses on breaking news, current issues and best practices. We seek out experienced marketers, to share their stories at lightning fast speed so you don’t miss out on what will take the industry forward.
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