The inception of the digital age has brought about an unprecedented increase of content and data. Current statistics indicate that over three billion people the world over have access to some form of digital platform. This translates to hundreds of terabytes of data generated everyday from the Internet and other digital platforms ("World Internet Users Statistics and 2015 World Population Stats", 2016). As the users and content generators interact, the line between searching and advertising becomes blurred. However, not all the content generated and shared through these mediums is important and consequently, a lot of effort is used up to search and find relevant content that pertains to a user's needs. Consequently, it has become imperative that marketers and companies understand the digital landscape first so as to market their brand and digital content in a way that makes it easy for the intended consumers to discover it. For brands to achieve this kind of content and brand positioning, they must first undertake research to enable them to comprehend a number of things. First, organizations need to understand their current position in the market relative to consumer needs, competition, brand recognition, and popularity of their digital outposts. Secondly, it is imperative that they understand consumer patterns concerning how and with what tools consumers look for relevant content in the digital forest of data, their seasonal trends, and brand preferences. Search analytics tries to elucidate on the various tools and methods that marketers can use to collect consumer data collected through digital searches. They can, therefore, use these tools to position their brands better through search advertising.
Search marketing is arguably the most important form of advertising due to its popularity. Statistics indicate that search engines such as Google receive over 2 Million search queries per minute today (Gunelius, 2014). Researchers attribute the popularity of search on the convenience of the tools available coupled with the fact that most internet users spend over half of their time searching for relevant data. Therefore, search advertising offers marketers a very big relevant audience. Moreover, unlike other marketing and data mining tools that require heavy capital investments, information from search engines is mostly freely available for any interested party to acquire and analyze. Advertising through searches also requires less effort and capital investment relative to traditional methods such as print media and telemarketing.
Search marketing takes on various forms depending on the intended audience. The most popular form of search marketing is search engine marketing. Here, companies pay search engines to include links to their content on relevant search results. Consequently, consumers who type in certain keywords or whose searches meet certain criteria get also get a link as part of their results or suggestions. This results in higher traffic for the said advertiser once consumers click on these links. The second form of search marketing is search engine optimization. This is most popular with Companies that do not want to pay for advertisements but still want their content found through natural searches. It entails not only having relevant keywords in their content but also incorporating crucial metadata in their digital content, which search engine algorithms consider. Advertising through brand association is another form of search marketing. Here companies associate their content with other relevant brands such that a search for the brand will lead a consumer to their digital content or advertisements (Hemann & Burbary, 2013).
There exist many tools at the disposal of marketers and other stakeholders to analyze consumer preferences based on searches conducted on various search engines. The most popular is Google Trends, which helps, analyze search data based on the popularity of the searches. Other free tools include YouTube Trends, Google Adwords Keyword, and Yahoo Clues. However, there are commercial tools that give a more personalized analyzing experience by collecting data across numerous high traffic sites and analyzing it depending on user defined parameters. The most powerful and popular of these types of tools is The BrightEdge SEO Platform (Hemann & Burbary, 2013).
The digital age has made it increasingly easy to create and disburse content. Although this can be termed as a big advantage to marketers and organizations who do not have to put as much effort into these tasks(creation and disbursement), it also means that they have to work twice as hard for their content to get noticed in the midst of all the other digital data. Content includes all forms of multimedia, posts on various social and professional websites, blogs, and forums. Content analysis entails identifying the key properties, patterns, keywords, and structure of this content. Thos information is vital for organizations and marketers who can then understand exactly what type of content the consumers expect from them, and how to satisfy consumer needs. Content can then be delivered using either paid, owned, or earned media depending on how consumer patterns. Paid media refers to any form of digital outpost that a company buys for the purposes of advertising. Owned media, on the other hand, is a form of a digital platform that is owned by the company. Earned media is a type of media owned and controlled by the consumers who choose what to advertise and what content to host (Hemann & Burbary, 2013).
The best way to analyze content is through content audits. This type of audits entails the use of manual and automated tools to take inventory and analyze content about a certain brand or company with the aim of identifying consumptions patterns. In carrying out audits, some key things must be checked in the content in question. They include the type of content (video, text, audio, document), ownership, topic, and keywords used. These can be done using simple tools such as a spreadsheet if the content or brand involved is little or small respectively. However, for sophisticated auditing, tools such as PageTrawaler, ChartBeat, and Woopra can be used.
Once organizations have all the results from search analysis, and content audit, they must decide on what content to create based on existence or presence of similar content. They again have to decide on how to disseminate this new content to their targeted audience and what tools to use. Presently, there are numerous tools that let marketers and organizations manage their content across various platforms (Hemann & Burbary, 2013). Unlike conventional direct posting of content on social platforms, social media engagement software (SMES) tools aid in synchronizing the content to avoid redundancy. Additionally, they offer analysis tools, monitoring tools, and notifications so that stakeholders can continuously engage their audiences. Moreover, these tools help organizations take care of their public relations in-house making them more intouch with the consumer needs as opposed to outsourcing. Other benefits include automatic scheduling which enables content to be posted digitally on certain hours, giving stakeholders a wider audience by posting to numerous platforms and geographical targeting. The latter enables companies to engage their audiences differently based on their physical location either through the use of a different language or posting their content synchronously based on regional time differences (Di Gangi & Wasko, 2016).
Similar to search and content analysis tools, engagement tools are categorized based on the scope they will operate in and their cost. Commercially available tools such as HootSuite and Argyle Social target small businesses having a smaller scope of audience. Others such as Spredfast, Wildfire, Sprinklr, Virtue, and Buddy Media incorporate more advanced dashboard analysis tools and are equipped to serve big businesses that operate in a very big audience pool. As the future beckons, SMES tools are increasingly becoming a necessity for organizations. Moreover, these SMES are incorporating sophisticated methods of giving organizations better control of their content and engagement with their consumers. Consequently, the social marketing cloud is becoming one of the most important markets for investors and other stakeholders (Ojasalo and Olkkonen, 2008).
Di Gangi, P. & Wasko, M. (2016). Social Media Engagement Theory:. Journal Of Organizational And End User Computing, 28(2), 53-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/joeuc.2016040104
Gunelius, S. (2014). The Data Explosion in 2014 Minute by Minute Infographic. ACI. Retrieved 31 May 2016, from http://aci.info/2014/07/12/the-data-explosion-in-2014-minute-by-minute-infographic/
Hemann, C. & Burbary, K. (2013). Digital marketing analytics. Indianapolis, Ind.: Que.
Ojasalo, J., Natti, S., & Olkkonen, R. (2008). Brand building in software SMEs: an empirical study. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 17(2), 92-107.
World Internet Users Statistics and 2015 World Population Stats. (2016). Internetworldstats.com. Retrieved 31 May 2016, from http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
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