About Vanessa FoxI write and speak about the search engine industry and searcher behavior. I'm fascinated by our searching culture and how it's shifted the way we seek out and consume information. In 2010, I wrote Marketing in the Age of Google, which I updated and released as a second edition in 2012. In 2008, I founded Nine By Blue and Blueprint Search Analytics, which I sold in 2013. I used to work at Google, where I built Webmaster Central and helped launch sitemaps.org.
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Marketing in the Age of Google: Resources From The Book
A focus of the book is using search data to better understand your audience so you can speak their language, solve their problems, and build products that they need. Below find links to tools that provide search data, followed by an excerpt from the book.
Keyword Research Tools
Below are links to tools (many of which are free) that provide data about what people are searching for. Marketing in the Age of Google tells you how best to use this data to attract the right customers, engage with them, and evolve your products and business to meet customer needs.
- Yahoo Suggest
- Wordtracker Questions
- SEOBook Keyword Tool
- Competitive research
Excerpts From Chapter 2 (How To Use Search Data To Improve Your Business and Product Strategy)
Searchers aren’t an isolated demographic from the rest of your target audience. Searchers are your target audience. And they’re telling you exactly what will compel them to buy your products, engage with your company, and become your strongest advocates.
The largest source of this data is through the major search engines, particularly Google. Millions of people search using these search engines every day, and in aggregate what they search for and how those searches change over time provides incredibly useful insight into their needs.
In his book Spent, biological psychologist Geoffrey Miller talks about his experience at a 1999 conference about economic preferences. The economists in attendance were more interested in buying patterns than the psychological reasons behind them. However, the marketers in attendance did care, leading Miller down a road of research about marketing at the end of which he concluded: “Marketing is not just one of the most important ideas in business. It has become the most dominant force in human culture.” He defines marketing as “[a] systematic attempt to fulfill human desires by producing goods and services that people will buy. It is where the wild frontiers of human nature meet the wild powers of technology.” And he describes the marketing revolution of the 1950s and 60s as a shift to understanding that a “company should produce what people desire, instead of trying to convince them to buy what the company happens to make.”
Miller notes that not all industries have embraced this method of creating products and concludes that those who don’t “bother using market research to shape their services to their customers’ desires, [will] lose market share to those that do.”
The same can be said of search data. Those businesses that don’t realize that we’ve experienced a shift in consumer behavior and that customers and customer data are now centered on search will lose market share to those that do.
With search data, we can gain new insights into our customers, our industry, and our competitors, but many businesses think of it as a kind of arcane magic that they aren’t sure how to best harness. But once you know where to get the data and how to apply it, you’ll find that search data provides clear insight that makes running your business and aquiring customers easier, smoother, and more measurable.
Search Acquisition Strategy: The New Product Strategy and Customer Acquisition Strategy
Effective search acquisition begins with learning more about your customers and what they’re searching for. From there, you can assess your site and make sure it satisfies the needs of those searchers. Finally, you ensure that when your customers search, your site shows up in results. It stands to reason then that search acquisition strategy is really customer acquisition strategy and, at its core, product strategy.
The biggest difference between traditional market research and search-based market research is that you can gain a great deal of information about customer behavior and needs without spending a dime on focus groups, surveys, or other expensive methods. That doesn’t mean you won’t do some of those things to refine your strategy and confirm your conclusions or as a parallel endeavor, but an amazing amount of data is available from search and, with multivariate testing and mouse movement tracking, you can see how customers are responding in near-real time.