Are You Aware? DR Tactics: Search Continuum
Understanding what we call the “search continuum” is essential for any marketer using paid search. It’s all about meeting consumer expectations as they move through the search process to your web site and eventually, your conversion path.
Clearly search is unlike most other forms of advertising. Consumers can quickly evaluate all the search results, both organic and paid, and easily click to the one that is most relevant. If they don’t see what they want, they can easily come back to the results page and try again.
Make no mistake about it: consumers are in control, in a hurry, and have specific expectations that you must meet if you want to be successful. The search continuum looks like this:
Let’s look at the three expectations consumers have when conducting a search for a product or service based on the three sections in the graphic above.
When the consumer types in a word, he/she expects that the page of search results will have some organic and paid ads that are relevant to the search. The more specific the search term, the more relevant you can be with your ad. For example, if a consumer types in “HP 951 ink cartridge”, your search ad needs to address that specific search phrase, not just generic terms such as “ink cartridge”.
You can bet that someone has purchased search ads that are highly focused on the search term, no matter how specific it is. Think about it: If you’re looking to buy HP 951 ink cartridges, would you click first on an ad that has “HP 951 ink cartridges” in it, or simply “ink cartridges”?
In order for your ad to stand out and garner clicks, it must be relevant to the search term. While this is pretty basic and easy to understand, far too many search marketers don’t take the time to do this properly.
When consumers decide to click on your ad, they now move along the search continuum and have another expectation of relevancy — landing on a web page that features the product or service they are looking for. Using the same example, if the consumer typed in “HP 951 ink cartridge” and your ad was relevant to that search, you now have to make sure the searcher is taken to the exact page where that product is featured.
If you simply link the consumer to your home page or even a category page, both will require the searcher to spend even more time and effort to find the page where HP 951 ink cartridges are listed. This can easily turn off consumers. In the same way that I recommend you write very specific search ads relevant to the search term, use links to very specific landing pages as well.
Once the consumer has landed on the page featuring the product or service they want and are ready to order, make it extremely easy for the consumer to place the item in the shopping cart or fill out a form requesting an appointment or more information. Do not make them hunt for a way to place an order.
Search Continuum Key Takeaway
Make sure that your search team or agency understands and embraces the importance of the search continuum so they can write copy and use links that are the most relevant. Doing so will result in more qualified clicks and conversions.
Like I wrote in my last column, consumers are looking for the fastest way to find the information they want and place orders online. They equate confusion with difficulty and often abandon a search when the search results and/or website isn’t clear and easy to understand. Since you’re spending dollars to attract customers, make sure you meet their expectations with relevant search copy and landing page linking.
Irv Brechner writes about a wide range of DRTV-driven customer acquisition tactics, trends and issues. He developed acquirgy’s IntelCenter, with 100+ best practices papers, infographics, briefs and more. He writes regularly for Response Magazine, Electronic Retailer, MediaBizBloggers.com, Agency Post and other leading trade publications. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.