Tag Archives: Search

How Educated Do Consumers Need To Be?

A piece came out yesterday that got me thinking.  The article was a write-up of a study conducted by Harris Interactive for the folks at The Search Agency and you can have a look at the results here.  The highlights are that most consumers have no clue how much of digital works from a business perspective even though they do know how to use the services:

  • 70% of U.S. online adults know how to post to a Facebook wall, but only 54% understand how Facebook makes money
  • More than one-third of U.S. online adults believe search engines sell users’ personal data to marketers
  • Nearly 29% believe that companies pay annual dues for use, while 20% believe that users pay for premium search features

That got me thinking about why that is or isn’t important.  The author of the piece thinks that “it may seem incidental, but a better understanding would produce higher engagement and conversion rates.”  She says this believing that understanding would increase participation.  I’m not so sure.  In fact, it might have just the opposite effect.  Knowing about EdgeRank and how it affects what information passes into your news feed as well as about the plethora of information Facebook has about everyone on the service could bother some folks and scare quite a few others.  Many people don’t understand that the search results they see are skewed (unless they are savvy enough to turn off the personalized results).

Here is a question for you:  do you know how your car works?  What happens when you turn on the ignition?  I can probably answer this for you – you don’t have a clue.  You do know, however, when the car is NOT working.  I think that’s the same with the digital services we use – we don’t need to know how they work as long as we know that they are, in fact, working.  That said, we probably do want to know if our cars are tracking where we’re going and how fast we’re driving (they are, by the way) and I continue to believe that privacy and data collection are big consumer issues that will continue to grow in importance as the details of those activities become more widely known.

What do you think?

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Failbook

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Unless you’re in a cave someplace or have abandoned it for Google+, you’ve probably noticed that Facebook did an overhaul last night.  I logged in this morning and while I’ll admit I’m not the brightest guy in the world, I was thoroughly confused.  Many of the new features are clearly designed to compete with things found on Google+ and Twitter, such as circles.  For those of you struggling to make sense of the new layout, Gizmodo did a nice job color-coding everything in a cheat sheet.

I’m a believer in continuous improvement.  I’m not a believer in keeping up with the Joneses.  Here’s why. Continue reading

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The Shotgun Approach

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I don’t know whether to laugh or cry this morning about a situation one of my clients is having. They, like many other sites, get a fair amount of traffic from Google. In their case, because they’re a news site, Google News is a key traffic driver as well. A week ago, with no notice or changes to the site, their articles disappeared from Google News and their traffic dropped precipitously. What’s really weird is that the site is still fully indexed in regular Google – only News is affected.
Why am I telling you this? Because while the cause is still unknown we have an idea of what’s doing it and there are larger thoughts beyond our specific case that I want to share. Continue reading

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Why Newspapers Won’t Die

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Hope everyone had a great holiday and now it’s back to business. My business brain got turned on yesterday as I read the article on the front of the NY Times business section. If you haven’t read the piece on how an unscrupulous web vendor grew his business by exploiting Google’s algorithm (my guess is it’s the same with the other search engines as well), you can read it here.  The gist of it is this dirtball welcomes and precipitates customer complaints, saying they vault his business higher in Internet search results.  It’s really frightening but in the almost 48 hours since it was published (on the web site Saturday night) a lot has happened.  Most importantly, it shows me once again why newspapers won’t die any time soon. Continue reading

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Your Algorithm

I was reading the article in Wired on the Google algorithm. Interesting stuff even if you’re just a web searcher, and for those of us who talk about SEO from time to time, it’s fascinating.

One statement stood out:

The holy grail of search is to understand what the user wants,” Singhal says. “Then you are not matching words; you are actually trying to match meaning

My immediate thought was that he was right about most businesses, not just that of search.   The Wired piece details the hundreds of ways Google’s formula manipulates a search to try to get precisely to the point of the user’s question.  Their algorithm is a highly refined way of doing just that.  My theory is that we all need one.

Many firms go about their business making few or no attempts to gain this kind of in-depth understanding of user wants and needs.  You can rest assured that you can count those that have an algorithm to do so based on customer input on your fingers and toes.  Yes, I’m aware of marketing dashboards and monitoring of social buzz.  Those are both great but think about Google’s formula applied to all that social content, feedback cards, surveys, and other customer interaction.  I wonder what nuances would surface?

How about you – got an algorithm?  How do you figure out what your customers, partners, and prospects want based on the information you gather?

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Value Added

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When you go to a restaurant, they don’t charge you only for the cost of the ingredients used in preparing whatever it is you’re eating. In addition, you’re paying for the preparation of those ingredients, the people who serve you and see that you’re comfortable, the building itself, and a profit margin. What you’re really paying for is the value added by the kitchen staff to those ingredients and the rest of the staff in serving them. Continue reading

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Art vs. Science

One of the hottest topics I find myself discussing with clients these days is Search Engine Optimization.  the reason for this is that the biggest challenge today, unless your name is Google, Yahoo, or MSN, is for people to be able to FIND your content.  Most trips to the web begin with a search of some sort so how your content bubbles up in natural search results (as opposed to paid ones) is important.  But I’m left with a weird feeling about it. Continue reading

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