Unconventional Search Engines – Think Outside the Box

Unconventional Search Engines – Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie, Home Agency

In today’s guest post, Home Agency’s Digital Strategy Director Lawrence Alexander, and Head of Technical SEO Neill Horie, provide an insight into the ten unconventional search engines that may be the answer to delivering your digital strategy and sales targets.

Don’t just rely on Google – take a look at the top 10 search engines people use to buy and make sure you’re doing all you can, including unconventional ones.

When it comes to making sure that their content and products are found, people often think about Google, but forget other platforms with a massive reach in terms of users, searches and sales. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 to help you think outside of the box and investigate some unconventional search engines.

  1. Google – 165,000,000,000 searches per month

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

The largest search engine in the world, with 2 trillion monthly searches per year1, or roughly 165 billion searches per month. Making sure that your content is visible in Google is typically the obvious first step.

 

 

2. Facebook – 30,000,000,000 searches per month

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

Facebook has a giant reach in search which is often overlooked, with well over 1 billion monthly usersand surpassing 30 billion search queries per month3. To no-one’s surprise, they’re also thinking about how to leverage that search, but are already well placed due to the amount of company information already present.

 

3. Bing – 24,000,000,000 searches per month

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

Bing have kept their search data statistics relatively quiet, but with 12% of global market share (including Yahoo!) versus Google’s 83%4, it’s definitely smaller than Google. Roughly 80% of its audience are in the USA (probably 19 billion monthly searches) and much of the rest in Canada5, however, meaning that it’s much less useful if your customers aren’t in North America. This may grow over time however, due to Alexa (Amazon Echo), Cortana (Windows 10) and Siri (iPhone) using Bing to power their search functionality.

4. YouTube – 1,000,000,000 active monthly users

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

Often considered the search engine which people don’t think about, YouTube’s reach is enormous, claiming a third of the world’s internet population amongst its users6. Shooting videos is often seen as too expensive, and the medium itself seen as ill-suited for many brands. This need not be true, as already in 2015, they claimed a year-on-year growth of 70% for “how to” queries7, which many brands may want to take advantage of, especially given its prevalence in voice search.

5. Instagram – 500,000,000 active monthly users

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

Not only does Instagram have a high number of monthly active users, but 80% of those users are outside of the USA8. Hidden from traditional search marketing due to being a closed, mobile-only system, it nevertheless helps 60% of its users – or 300 million people – find out about a product or service9.

 

6. Vimeo – 170,000,000 active monthly users

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

A slightly more exclusive video-sharing platform than YouTube10, Vimeo can be useful in more B2B-centric environments due to the cost-effective paid packages and absence of advertisements. Stats on internal searches within Vimeo are hard to come by, but Vimeo itself often ranks well in Google (albeit behind YouTube).

 

7. LinkedIn – 112,500,000 active monthly users

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

A widely used11 content hosting platform in addition to just a place to have business connections, LinkedIn is often a missed opportunity for people wanting to be found by determined searchers.

 

 

8. Pinterest – 150,000,000 active monthly users

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

At 150 monthly users12 and 2 billion monthly searches13, Pinterest may only be a fraction of the search volume seen by Google and Bing, but those users are actively interested in purchasing. 93% of users use Pinterest to plan for purchases14, 72% have seen something and bought it offline and whilst 52% have seen something and then purchased it online15.

 

9. Google+ – 40,000,000 active monthly users

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

Irrelevant for many people and typically considered dead, it has about 4-6 million actively posting users16, which could mean about 40 million users including lurkers. Nevertheless, it has value for the right audiences, particularly tech-savvy ones. For instance, Niantic, the developer behind Ingress and Pokemon Go, uses Google+ heavily for its communications17.

 

10. Amazon Echo/Alexa – 1,600,000 active owners at present

Unconventional Search Engines - Think Outside the Box by Lawrence Alexander and Neill Horie

They may be new to the market, but (AI-driven) voice search and assistants are an onrushing trend to take advantage of. Alexa, for instance, only has 1.6 million active owners right now18, but not many businesses have skills – specific phrases you can associate with your products or services – developed yet competition is incredibly low.

This isn’t the end of the opportunities either, as there will often be specific opportunities available for your niche and situation. The important thing is to not restrict yourself to the main, most competitive method when other ways exist.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, you can catch-up with Lawrence and Neill at next week’s Search Leaders Masterclass in Manchester, where they’ll be delivering a session on – Sales before search: Why alternative search engines and ‘renting’ ranking space might be the answer to your sales targets.

Sources

  1. http://searchengineland.com/google-now-handles-2-999-trillion-searches-per-year-250247
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/
  3. http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/11/3317720/facebook-billion-search-queries-a-day
  4. https://www.further.co.uk/blog/who-what-and-when-profiling-google-yahoo-and-bing-search-demographics/
  5. https://www.aborg.com/2014/08/google-vs-bing-which-one-are-your-customers-using/
  6. https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html
  7. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/i-want-to-do-micro-moments.html
  8. https://www.instagram.com/press/
  9. http://blog.business.instagram.com/post/150771324916/instagram-advertiser-number
  10. https://vimeo.com/about/advertisers
  11. http://venturebeat.com/2016/08/04/linkedin-now-has-450-million-members-but-the-number-of-monthly-visitors-is-still-flat/
  12. https://blog.pinterest.com/en/150-million-people-finding-ideas-pinterest
  13. https://blog.pinterest.com/en/2-billion-monthly-idea-searches-and-counting
  14. https://www.millwardbrowndigital.com/pinterest-and-the-power-of-future-intent/
  15. https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/how-pinterest-drives-purchases-online-and
  16. https://ello.co/dredmorbius/post/naya9wqdemiovuvwvoyquq
  17. https://plus.google.com/+Nianticlabs
  18. http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-many-amazon-echo-smart-home-devices-have-been-installed-2016-6

Author Biogs

Lawrence Alexander - Home Agency

Lawrence is a strategist specialising in digital and brand communications. He’s worked with over 150 high street brands including Microsoft, Mashable, BMW, Sony and Unilever. Since 1999, Lawrence has been using a mixture of behavioural psychology and digital brand strategy to help businesses and brands achieve their business objectives.

 

Neill Horie, Head of Technical SEO at Home Agency - Search Leaders Masterclass, Manchester

Neill is Head of Technical SEO at The Home Agency with a passion for making things clearer via organisation. To that end, he’s involved in a projects in the hope that regardless of whether it’s a new website or an old product brochure, it’s clear what’s what.

 

 

Why is personalisation so important in UX?

Lawrence Alexander: Why is personalisation so important in UX?

In today’s guest post, Home Agency’s Digital Strategy Director Lawrence Alexander takes a closer look at ‘Personalisation’. 

It’s been reported that Barak Obama only wears blue or grey suits. They are beautiful suits (obviously), but as the President of The United States of America, he could have as many suits in as many colours as he likes. A new one for every day perhaps. But he has a very good reason for only wearing blue or grey suits; a reason I will share with you later.

First a question for you; the reader. Do you own a personalised object like a fitted suit, a personalised number plate or some custom jewellery? For most of you the answer will probably be no and for those of you that have, I’m sure it’s something you consider to be a special item.

For most people a personalised item is something rare and therefore special. So why is it that so many marketers believe that customers expect a personalised service?

Personalised content, services or experiences have rapidly grown in the past ten years led by Amazon’s customer centric approach with it’s famous “other items you might like” feature. This is a big departure from previous thinking when famous people said things like:

“You can have it any colour, so long as it’s black.” – Henry Ford

Henry Ford: Why Personalisations is so important to UX

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them… A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs

Have things really changed so much that the modern customer (which includes you and me) now demands that everything be personalised. The short answer is no. The demand for the extra special is not what has changed. The really difference is time.

There is no doubt that we all have less and less ‘spare time’ as little bits of it get eaten up with box sets, iPhone updates or keeping up-to-date on social media with people you sort of know.

Busier lives mean we like things to be quicker and simpler. And what makes things quicker and simpler? That’s right; personalisation. And here’s why.

Quicker…

Recommendations cut browsing and searching time. Custom filters (even ones you can’t see) mean you don’t waste time looking at irrelevant offers, and smart personalisation like time or weather means that the right offer is waiting for you when you need it. Any time a preference is made for you like location, time, age or gender, it saves you time.

  • It either saves you time because you don’t need time to filter out irrelevant results
  • Or it saves you time because you don’t have to tick boxes in an advanced search to see the best results

Simpler…

Barack Obama told Vanity Fair that:

“You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits,” [Obama] said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Barack Obama: Why Personalisation is so Important to UX

By doing this he is deliberately avoiding decision fatigue. Making decisions uses mental energy therefore making you tired, or when you are tired, making simple decisions seem much harder than they really are. Many of us have experienced that moment, when we’re tired and hungry, choosing what to have for lunch seems like an impossible decision.

Because decisions use energy our brains have a number of tactics to avoid making them. It makes reckless decisions for us; leading to regretful purchases. Alternatively, it avoids making a decision at all.

Personalisation makes the whole process simpler by making a lot of decisions for our customer. By using data such as previous buying history, product reviews, age, gender, location and whether we are able to make recommendations that leave the customer with just one decision; do I like it or not?

Personalisation is never going to make a customer want something that they don’t like, but it will make it easier for them, giving them the energy to make the decision instead of abandoning a basket to avoid decision fatigue.

So why does Obama only have grey or blue suits? To make his life quicker and simpler. The next question is; how can you do the same for your customers?

Here’s how…

  • Quick: Recommendations cut browsing and searching time. Custom filters mean you don’t waste time looking at irrelevant offers and smart personalisation like time or weather mean that the right offer is waiting for you when you need it
  • Simple: There is a limit to the number of decisions we can make in a day before our brain gets tired. That’s why Obama only wears grey or blue suits.
  • This means that all of the decisions we need to make like which button, which category, this item or that, which colour or what delivery time are all tiring out your customers and making it harder for them to live a productive life; unless you personalise!
  • By personalising you reduce the number of decisions they need to make by making the decision for your customer. Personalisation is about making the right choices for your customer so that they don’t have to.
  • This means when it comes to the final decision: shall I buy this? They won’t be too tired to make it.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, you can register to attend next month’s UX Leaders Masterclass in Manchester, where Lawrence will be leading a session that discusses: Delivering Powerful Personalised Customer Experiences.

Author Biog

Lawrence Alexander - Official Roundtable Chair at UX Leaders Masterclass, Manchester

Lawrence is a strategist specialising in digital and brand communications. He’s worked with over 150 high street brands including Microsoft, Mashable, BMW, Sony and Unilever. Since 1999, Lawrence has been using a mixture of behavioural psychology and digital brand strategy to help businesses and brands achieve their business objectives.

Related Content: How too many choices lead to a drop in sales

 

Manchester to host UX Leaders Masterclass #UXL16

UX Leaders Masterclass - Manchester

After the successful launch of the last two masterclass events in Manchester – next up will be the UX Leaders Masterclass #UXL16, which will take place on Tuesday 20th September 2016.

Delegates already confirmed for #UXL16 include: Kellogg’s, Bank of America, Shop Direct, Sky Bet, Boots, Missguided and many more of the UK’s biggest and best consumer brands.

Further details about the venue and programme will be updated over the next few weeks.

The masterclass in association with The UX Agency, Home and SimpleUsability will bring together a selection of the industry’s finest digital and creative talent, as they discuss the big issues and developments that are shaping the User Experience (UX) landscape.

To secure your seat at the UX Leaders Masterclass #UXL16 – Register Here

Clicks or comments: Tell me again, why do you have a blog?

In today’s guest post, Home Agency’s Digital Strategy Director Lawrence Alexander takes a closer look at why brands need to have a clear understanding of their core objectives before developing and implementing their blog content.

A good blog can be life changing. Some produce genuinely useful advice that makes customers’ lives easier. Likewise a brand can be built on making people laugh. For example, Unilad’s Facebook account has 11.5 million likes. That’s nearly 1.5 times the entire population of London.

But one day the Unilads will need to walk into a stuffy boardroom, sit down in front of some well-dressed, white, middle aged men and answer the question; “Do you actually make any money?”

This importance of this question can be tracked back to a cloudy Thursday almost a decade ago. Some financial analysts pinpoint the start of the “credit crunch” down to this day; 9 August 2007. On this day the French bank BNP Paribas announced that investors would not be able to withdraw funds from two of their accounts. This news helped the world to see how serious the situation was and so began our current financial crisis.

That very moment was the final straw for the Mad Men and dot com bubbles. Before then creative agencies were able to take a chance on creative ideas, waiting for one big idea to pay off. But the announcement of the financial crisis saw banks and investors reduce their risks by reducing agency overdrafts. At the same time big brands needed to reduce their risks and did so by demanding that agencies prove return on investment.

Agencies needed to find campaign propositions that were ‘less risky’. They needed marketing tools they could measure so they could prove return on investment. Digital marketing answered the call. Digital, we heard, can track every view, every minute, every click and every conversion. From that moment on digital marketing flew off the shelves.

This chart shows how the steep rise in searches for digital marketing coincided with the start of the financial crisis, while creative marketing, a relatively equal term, slowly declined. If people couldn’t measure creativity, they wouldn’t buy it.

Google Trends

 

But for all our obsession with measurement, belief in quality never died. Despite the rise and rise and rise again of technical SEO, Google never changed their number one philosophy; focus on the user and all else will follow.

With this in mind Google were constantly improving their algorithm to try and create a perfect human experience. What this meant for agencies meant an ever changing target; like hunting a mythical beast that changed from pandas to pigeons to penguins and back again.

As agencies try desperately to use Google’s metrics to prove return on investment, Google tries desperately to create an algorithm to identify the contemporary Mad Men creating truly creative content.

And so here we are, an industry chasing our own Google shaped tail.

I’m not suggesting we return to the Eighties when ridiculous ideas were formed in snowy Columbian mountains and marched into boardrooms with enough confidence and swagger to sell singing robots to a powdered potato company. But maybe the pendulum has swung too far.

Ask yourself: do I trust in science? Do I only invest in what I can see? Do I believe in guarantees over gambles?

Or: do I believe in brands? Do I think that people fall in love with great campaigns? Do I think that crazy eats cautious for lunch? Do I believe that an Eastern European meerkat mispronouncing my business’ name will make me the market leader?

It doesn’t really matter which one you choose. Both have their virtues. But they’re not comparable.

Before you invest in your brand’s blog, you need to decide whether it’s clicks or comments that’ll get you the right results. You can’t measure the success of your content if you don’t know why you’re doing it.

So tell me again, why do you have a blog?

Author Biog
Lawrence AlexanderLawrence Alexander is the Digital Strategy Director at Home Agency. He’ll be talking about measuring brand content at the Content Leaders Masterclass #CLManc16 on Tuesday 26th January in Manchester.

You can find out more by following the #CLManc16 hashtag on twitter, by reading the supporting article ‘Clearing up confusion in brand measurement’ over on the Home Agency blog.

Blog: https://www.homeagency.co.uk/blog/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lawrencealexanderinfo