Search Engines: A Free Gold Mine for Marketers

Marketing experts around the world are increasingly realizing the true breadth and scope of search engines. With ad spends on the Internet by Indian marketers slated to grow 10-fold in the next two years, search marketing will increasingly hog the attention of smart marketers. In a few previous articles here, your favorite management site, we have discussed some aspects of search marketing and how it is emerging as a major marketing tool. In this article we look at yet another aspect of search marketing: how search engines can help marketers gain knowledge and insight about the Net-using consumer free of cost! Yes, you heard right – *FREE OF COST!*

In a recent “article”: in Advertising Age, marketing strategist and senior VP in Edelman’s “Me2Revolution”: practice, Steve Rubel has pointed out that search giants such as Google, Yahoo, are “so much more than big stadiums that aggregate eyeballs. They are an end-to-end suite of brand-reputation management and measurement services – many of which are free.”

Steve says that these web giants are immense depositories of knowledge and information and that today they know more about humanity than any other entity whether online or off. Through these search engines you can get to know such things as the wishes, hopes, dreams and fears of the users who go through these portals.

Even as “human touch” marketers and innovative new product developers are increasingly speaking out against the automation and analysis so favored by those who matter – the finance honchos – marketers worldwide still believe that the future for advertising and PR agencies remains in developing and driving the big idea. And, as long as marketers still remain in business, experts such as Steve believe that among them the ones that will be most successful in this quest are ones that use the full suite of services that the portals offer: developing powerful insights, baking big ideas, testing them, setting benchmarks, executing programs and measuring all this.

He recommends that marketers should think of them as all-in-one suites of tools, akin to Microsoft Office or a Swiss Army Knife. They provide all the information and processes needed for driving marketing accountability.

Unfortunately, most marketers don’t view them this way, Steve points out. They see portals and search engines mostly as media – a place to run big buys once the big idea has left the station. As has been pointed out by SEO expert Danny Sullivan and reported here in an earlier article, most marketers concentrate on the advertising services rather than the PR impact of search-engine optimization and the insights that can be derived from them, says Steve.

Marketers can, however, can acquire a distinct competitive edge if they can somehow master the intricacies of the search engine tool. These portals are veritable gold mines and if you know how to mine the data that they contain you can take a short cut to El Dorado. Steve suggests you should start by finding out how they can be used, sometimes in unintended ways to lead you to that El Dorado.

Here are a few examples suggested by Steve as to how they can be used to good advantage:

* “Google Trends”: and “Yahoo Buzz,”: which are real-time windows into the world’s psyche.

* “Google Reader,”: an RSS reader whose data can be mined in incredible ways.

* “Google Analytics”: and “Yahoo Site Explorer,”: which are places to learn how people find you.

* “Google Adwords,”: “Microsoft AdCenter”: and “Yahoo Search Marketing”: – you should think of them not as ads but as focus groups for micro testing.

These services and many others, says Steve, are the marketer’s essential partner for driving accountability. Indian marketers who care to take Steve’s advice can easily leave many of their peers far behind as most are yet to wake up fully to the immense possibilities of search marketing! You don’t believe me? Just try out the links for each of the services mentioned in this article. If you are not already familiar with them, you will simply be zapped out of your wits to find out how much high-quality, high-value information is out there waiting to be mined free of cost. Yes, you heard right – *FREE OF COST!*