What do you think is the most valuable commodity in the world? You’re probably thinking gold or precious stones, but the most valuable commodity in the world today is people’s attention.
The problem is – people are very distracted! The average person on any given day is exposed to anywhere from 4-10,000 ads, and they are interrupted or distracted every 10.5 minutes. So, how do you cut through the clutter and stand out to consumers?
The answer is a cohesive and integrated strategy focused on search that will generate results and unlock business growth.
Why is search important?
As marketers, we are always working to find ways to get the attention of consumers. However, we work with limited resources, and we must make tough choices to optimize marketing dollars. First, we must consider the best channel to use to reach customers: outdoor, broadcast/radio, direct mail, digital, etc. How can we maximize growth within your marketing budget? What channel has the most significant impact? The answer is search engines.
Search engines are where customers are, accounting for 93% of all web traffic. On average, people do 4-5 searches every day, but for many people, it is a lot more than that. Search engines are where people are making decisions and where they are beginning their path to purchase, so it is imperative that you are in this space.
The majority of all purchases begin and end with a search. Depending on your industry, the journey might be a little bit longer or shorter, but the decision always starts with a search. Thus, it is essential to focus on search because, for example, 75% of local searches result in an interaction within 24 hours, like making an appointment, visiting a store, or scheduling home service.
Page one dominance is the key.
Page one of a search engine (specifically Google) is the battlefield for getting new customers. 80-90% of web traffic comes from page one of search engines. You must be there in a dominant way to get customers to interact with your business – to cut through the clutter and be successful.
However, there is limited real estate with only 22-24 positions in three sections:
- paid ad section
- map section (great for local searches)
- organic section (most relevant to answer customer questions).
There are even fewer spaces on mobile, but it accounts for 70% of all searches.
So how do you get to hold a spot on page one? How do you occupy multiple spaces and maximize success? That’s where a strategy focusing on search engine dominance comes into play.
What is search engine dominance?
Search engine dominance is a focused marketing effort designed to occupy multiple positions on page one for relevant high-value searches, regardless of where someone is on the path to purchase. Holding multiple positions on page one of a search means you can maximize quality website traffic and gain a competitive advantage. For example, if you occupy two spots on page one, prospects are 50% more likely to become customers.
Different businesses, based on what they are selling, will have different strategies to achieve search engine dominance. Each approach revolves around a different path to purchase customers take in their decision-making journey.
Fast path to purchase
If you offer services that solve problems for people who need immediate help, you will base your strategy on the fast path to purchase. With the fast path to purchase, 75% of conversions involve a single interaction in a search, and 86% of conversions happen the same day. Customers on the fast path to purchase need service now and are ready to make a quick decision.
For example, if someone’s AC goes out in the middle of summer in Alabama, they are going to be making quick decisions in their search for someone who can provide service as soon as possible. The strategy for businesses wanting to get this customer’s attention will focus on these three factors:
- Frictionless Experience – You want to make it easy to engage. Utilizing things like click to call on ad messaging and your website. Think mobile-first because prospective customers aren’t going to get out a laptop or startup a desktop to look for solutions during an emergency – especially if it’s 100 degrees in Alabama, and their AC is out.
- Google Reviews – Google reviews are essential for building immediate trust in a fast decision-making process. It’s imperative that you are paying attention to the quality, consistency, and relevancy of Google reviews.
- Availability reinforced with messaging – If this potential customer came home from work to find their AC needed service, their search is going to be for services available after regular business hours. They are looking for messaging like “open late” or “available 24 hours.” Make sure your messaging emphasizes that you are ready to solve their problems when they need it most.
Moderate path to purchase
With a moderate path to purchase, consumers are doing more research, which means more website visits and more touchpoints generated by more searches. Businesses with consumers on the moderate path to purchase include financial services, property management, senior living, and healthcare that’s nonurgent.
Search engine dominance is vital to these businesses because the majority of consumers never make it to page two in their search. In the realm of healthcare, for example, 88% of patients use search to find a provider, and 75% of them never make it to page two. For these businesses to get the attention of prospective customers in these searches, they must employ a three-part strategy:
- Validate – Utilize testimonials and reviews to reassure consumers in their decision.
- Educate – Provide information and answer questions to bridge the trust chasm so that they feel comfortable with their choice.
- Focus on outcomes – desired results should drive messaging and content.
Content marketing is essential to this strategy. Consumers on a moderate path to purchase are doing more research, and there are more touchpoints. Content marketing ensures you are present to meet the needs of that consumer – to educate and validate and let them know how your product or service is going to solve what they need.
Longer path to purchase
When people are planning to make big-ticket purchases for things like homes, cars, and vacations, they are going to do tons of searches on multiple devices and spend a lot of time making decisions. Thus, they are on a longer path to purchase.
When it comes to planning a vacation, for example, the various searches may include deciding on a location, choosing accommodations, and finding activities. There may also be multiple people involved in these searches. This type of search may take months and can add up to hundreds of searches. The average accommodation path to purchase alone lasts about 36 days, with 45 touchpoints across multiple devices. Your business will need to show up numerous times on multiple devices and always in as many places as possible on that first page of the search.
Focus on these three things if your potential customers are on a longer path to purchase:
- Optimize for device experience. The longer path to purchase usually takes place over multiple devices; you want to show up on cell phones and other devices in an accessible way.
- Personalize and create stage relevancy so that you’re providing value at every stage. Consumers are going to gravitate to businesses who are answering their questions and solving their problems wherever they are in their path to purchase.
- Re-engage and add value with relevant content and messaging that matches where that consumer is and solves problems for them along their path to purchase.
Why a search engine dominance strategy matters to your business
The most valuable commodity in the world right now is people’s attention. However, people are constantly distracted, so you have to find a way to break through so your business can succeed. Consumers look to search engines for answers to questions and to find the things they need or want. Search is how people solve problems and make decisions. A search engine dominance strategy is the tool your business needs to get the attention of your consumers while they are on the path to purchase. It is a cohesive and integrated strategy that, when executed properly, will generate results that are going to be exponential.
Ask yourself this question – How is my company thinking about the consumer path to purchase, and are we executing a search engine dominance strategy against those journeys to maximize our opportunity for growth?
Partner with Bell Media to achieve Search Engine Dominance
Bell Media is a leading digital marketing agency in the Southeast, a 5x INC. 5000 Company, and a Google Premier Partner. We serve local companies in competitive markets that have a need or desire to grow. Bell Media is in the business of predictable outcomes, fueling growth by driving customer acquisition and filling open capacity. We work hard to understand what success looks like to our clients and passionately seek to achieve those results through collaboration and education.