Search? Social? There’s so much involved in each, as a small business owner, which one should you put the bulk of your focus on? Well, you may not like the answer. According to new research from GroupMSeach and comScore, search and social are a bit like peanut butter and jelly – you simply can’t have one without the other.
Last week eMarketer revealed it’s search and social together that really aids online shoppers, citing data that found clickthrough rates increased by 94 percent when a consumer was exposed to both brand-specific search results and social media. That’s a stat worth knowing. Whether you are an SMB leaning more toward search or a business owner leaning more toward social, the graph below offers a pretty compelling reason why you should invest in both.
Interestingly, when it comes to social media we’re not necessarily talking about Twitter or Facebook. We’re talking about niche industry sites and blogs and, increasingly, review sites. Turns out these are the primary social avenues that most affect consumer buying decisions, with 30 percent of respondents saying they relied on reviews to aid in their purchase decisions. Twitter and Facebook may lead in awareness, but it’s review sites that are a customer’s last stop before checkout.
And that makes sense. Consumers are using search to identify brands and then turning to review sites and peer recommendations as a way of “quality checking” them. As an example of this, Yelp’s Dylan Swift recently noted that sites like Groupon have significantly increased the traffic coming into Yelp. Why? Because when consumers are exposed to a company they are unfamiliar with, before they purchase the deal, the go to Yelp in order to check the company out and hear about other users’ experiences. I thought that showed a really interesting pattern of behavior – citing both the importance of online reviews and making sure that you’re protecting your Google 10 should a new customer go looking for intel on your brand.
The lesson here for small business owners is that it all matters and users are using more and more sources to find local information and content. To grow a successful Web presence you must:
Invest in search: The appearance of social media has not diminished the importance of local search engine optimization. You still need to claim your listings, master your site-specific keywords, localize your content, care about Google Place Pages, and take care of all the other local search engine optimization best practices.
Invest in social: Create those corroborating factors for users to stumble upon–because after they come across your brand website, they’re going to head to the people they see as “experts” to get their take on you. They’re going to read about you on industry blogs, they’re going to read your reviews, they’re going to check out your entire social presence. It’s not enough to just appear in search. You need to back up that presence with social signals.
Overall, I thought eMarketer presented some really interesting data on customers’ searching behavior and how they’re using the Web to locate vendors. It’s not a one or the other game. In order to attract customers, you have to develop a presence in both search and social.