Bing. Yahoo. DuckDuckGo. Ecosia. WolframAlpha. Blekko.
Some of these are familiar and others you may have never heard of, but we promise you, they exist. They're all search engines that try to take market share away from Google.
Ah, Google: Like all search engines, it is a portal to worlds unknown and the keeper of the answers to all your questions (if you type in the right keywords, that is). But it also lays claim as the processor of nearly 75,000 searches per second. That's a lot of Q&A going on!
Google has far surpassed its modest beginnings in the late 1990s. Just a few short decades later, we can shop through Google; watch video snippets right in the results feed; get suggested, curated content on our phone or on the browser. One search offers more knowledge than we could ever want, all bundled and pleasantly organized on our screen. It is the de facto "homepage" of the Internet.
As content marketers, we are tasked with juggling our everyday work while also keeping abreast of the changes Google makes (not to mention the industry, the tools that we use, our audiences, and so on). We do it because we have to; we need to be able to understand Google's changes and make revisions on our end, as necessary, to stay successful and competitive—nearly as soon as Google unveils such changes. We often worry about how we are going to handle what is to come, but we do not often, if ever, stop to think about how our audience will handle these changes.
We need to learn how to adapt our website, content, processes, etcetera to stay compliant, competitive, profitable, and so on, but our audience also needs to learn how to navigate all the changes Google throws their way.
That's why we loved coming across the article "We Surveyed 1,400 Searchers About Google - Here's What We Learned" submitted to Moz, because it forced us to think about the people we serve and how they are impacted as searchers. What insight can this data offer us, and how can we use it to improve?
You can read the survey write up in its entirety on Moz's website, but here are the highlights we thought were key:
Hopefully, Path Interactive will conduct the same study again to include the next generation* when they finally reach the 13 to 18 age range. There is also significant value in conducting this survey again in a decade to see if search habits are generational or change with age (Will the younger generation now take more time vetting search results when they are in their late 20s/early 30s?).
We are more interested in the results that Path Interactive would get if they conducted the same survey a year from now. Google is perpetually making updates in an effort to deliver the most accurate results. How different will Google be in a year, and how drastically (if at all) will searcher opinion change?
We also want to point out that the majority of the survey respondents (72%, or 1,008 individuals) are from the United States. How significantly, if at all, would the results change if India and Europe/United Kingdom were more evenly represented? Google has the largest market share in both of those countries in terms of search engines.
*The current youngest generation is Generation Z. Definitions vary, but Generation Z is typically defined as having been born mid-1990s (specifically, 1996) to early 2000s. There is currently no set birth year that marks the "end" of this generation.
Data that gives us insight into our audience's typical behavior (even if it doesn't directly involve our efforts) is a gold mine because, among other benefits, helps us better align our marketing strategies.
Here are three of our main takeaways from the survey results:
Know Your Audience
This survey just reinforces something that we have always known, something that is a core principle of Marketing 101: You have to know your audience. And we are not talking about some "ideal" consumer or "buyer profile" that you generate based on who you would like your audience to be. Instead, we mean knowing who they actually are based on the data that you collect.
Getting on Page One is Still a Priority
With only 7% of searchers going past the first page to find a result that answers their query, it is an absolute necessity that your website and as much of its content lands on page one. Staying mindful of the latest best practices when it comes to search engine optimization and keeping an eye on Google's blog to stay abreast of changes is crucial to success. And of course, there is still the need for great content.
Spend Your (Ad) Money Wisely
The survey shows that the majority of searchers (72%) always or nearly always click on the organic search results and completely ignore the ads. So is it really worth spending your time and money? It depends. The survey indicated that older searchers do not discriminate between organic results and ads; therefore, if your audience consists of individuals from an older generation, there is likely still value in paying for such ads.
Regardless, you should always periodically re-evaluate any marketing strategy. If you see that your search engine ads are not giving you the best return on investment, it may be something you want to reconsider.
In an effort to always provide the best, most accurate results to searchers'' queries, Google is always looking for ways to change or improve its algorithm regularly (nearly daily). What started off as a modest effort in 2009 at about 400 "changes" avalanched to 3,234 improvements last year. That equates to one improvement every hour of a typical 8 am to 5 pm work day.
Sometimes it seems as if we are almost catching up to Google at the finish line, but they have already started the next run. And if it is a race for us to catch up to them, our audience likely feels the same way.
Learn more about Content Marketing, Content Intelligence, Content Marketing Artificial Intelligence on our blog.
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