By Carrie-ann | Feb 14, 2014 | Internet Marketing

Are there any Alternatives to Google?

Google would like you to think it’s the only game in town. But for your own sake and for the sake of your business it’s important to diversify sources of monitisable traffic.  In business terms an over-reliance on one source of traffic introduces an unacceptable level of risk into your online strategy.

There’s no denying how omnipotent Google is, particularly with regard to search. The problem is that the Google ‘ecosystem’ whether it’s Adwords or search, is subject to change.  In your efforts to make your business as secure as possible you must seek out other sources of traffic.

I recognise that most sites, if they are optimised at all, are optimised for Google search. However that doesn’t mean you should ignore other search engines altogether. And outside of search, you can consider, ironically, Google actually wants you to diversify traffic sources. Well up to a point anyway. This is because we know Google’s latest algorithm update continues to consider social signals, amongst other factors.

It’s been reported recently Google accounts for 90% of UK desktop searches and the figure for mobile search is even higher. It’s almost a monopoly and there seems to be no let up as commentators believe the balance of the search market isn’t going to change any time soon. Well not much anyway.

My premise is that while you should certainly look at other search engines, you need to be where your customers are. For most companies that means exploring social media.

Tapping into Customer Psychology

If you know what your customers search for, and where they tend to hang out online, and what their interests are you will always be able to produce more relevant marketing. As I have mentioned before this means developing customer personae. It’s only by developing these that you can develop marketing that’s relevant for them. This is true across all forms of online marketing including social media and SEO. Keywords and search phrases get you part of the way there but it’s honestly difficult to develop customer archetypes without actually talking to real people!  If you develop these for your target market(s) they will become the cornerstone of your marketing strategy.

Alternative Search Engines

These may or may not be relevant to your target market but at the very least you should take a look at Bing which obviously includes Yahoo. It’s also worth keeping an eye on new developments in search because new engines are (perhaps surprisingly) being developed all the time. These include Blippex which ranks pages according to how long visotors spend on them. Newer engines are more likely to be taken up by younger markets but you’d be surprised at the number of people who start searching on the Yahoo home page. It’s also worth mentioning vertical search engines including de facto search engines such as Amazon.

Paid Advertising

The internet’s most popular advertising platform is of course Google Adwords. Adwords is itself undergoing significant changes which may well encourage more people to try the SEO route. However, as this most certainly means Google search it doesn’t create the any diversification.

I encourage my clients to seek out advertising opportunities that are relevant for their business and which are outside the Adwords network.  However, to make this strategy work you, a thorough understanding of your customers is essential. Finally, I would also mention that the downside of any advertising is that there is minimal engagement.  Advertisers are not necessarily looking for you. Which brings me nicely to social media.

Making the Most of Social Media

Even if you already have a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter you may not be exploiting their full potential.  For those of you who have dismissed Facebook – perhaps you’re a B2B firm – don’t forget Facebook is the world’s largest online directory. That aside, Facebook is also investing heavily in its search capability.

Social media is a relatively new platform.  But it offers users a way to personalise content that’s not possible with Google search. For younger consumers and those that are savvy online, it is a major source of news. And it would be wrong to dismiss social media as just for the young, as families have quickly learned how useful Facebook can be for keeping in touch with family.

How people use social media is also changing as the sector matures. Five years ago B2B businesses would not have placed much emphasis on Facebook but that is now changing.

I’ve said before social media requires a light touch. Think of it as not dissimilar to having a conversation with customers. But beyond that, a good understanding of your market is essential to be able to create engaging content.

Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter ‘followers’ are of course opt-in information. If you want to refine your approach or get the best possible start, getting professional guidance can be the difference between a page with 100 likes and 2500.

Different strategies for Facebook, in particular, are emerging all the time.  Facebook Advertising can be helpful, but it’s a completely different set up to Adwords, so again brining in an expert, at least initially, will pay dividends.

That said, whether you ask someone like me to help you get up and running or prefer on-going page management or do it yourself, clear goals are essential.  Some companies are selling directly off Facebook but that’s still quite unusual.  But your Facebook activity should be linked to your other marketing.  For example, you could detail exclusive offers on Facebook or use Facebook for new announcements. Whatever you decide however, social media should be a conversation. If you only ever try to sell or push out your news, you will turn your audience off.