An interesting study made the rounds at the World Economic Forum last month. The study, which aimed to gauge and chart user confidence in differing sources of media, shows that consumers now trust Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) more as a source for their news than they trust the actual sources that Google uses to compile its results.
This is striking because Google itself doesn’t report on anything, it simply compiles and lists other source references. It seems that this at-a-glance view of stories and information, deemed relevant only by search engine algorithm, is more comforting to the curious reader than pulling up an individual site.
This study is unlikely to turn too many heads in the marketing and advertising world, since this trend has been in the works for some time. But it does provide a good reminder and an excellent opportunity for communities to prioritize taking stock of their Search Engine Management strategies, and make sure they’re out in front of this ongoing change in consumer behavior.
I reached out to a couple of our own senior living experts for their thoughts on this development.
Ken Curnes: Senior Vice President / Consulting
I find the conclusion of this study interesting in that it reinforces several digital strategies we discuss with our clients on a regular basis. Clearly this demonstrates the value of search marketing and the need to “be found” by Google. Secondly, it shows the importance of websites featuring interesting and informative content that can be presented to the consumer. Not just marketing messages, but consumer-oriented content. Finally, this all necessitates intelligent search optimization on an ongoing basis to maximize the investment in your website and its content.
If “worthiness” and “trustability” are factors that are enhanced by being found by Google, by all means, let’s do everything we can do to be found.
Brandi Towns: Associate Public Relations Director
Google has held an increasing amount of influence for some time, but with this announcement, the present is as good a time as any for senior living organizations to take a look at what story Google is telling about their community. Is it positive? Is it accurate? Is it consistent? Is it robust? Is it relevant? Is it complete? Does it stand out from competitors? Would it motivate you to learn more? If not, look at better ways to share your story through Google. Optimize your social sites and synchronize content across all channels. Generate more searchable “news stories” in a variety of online media outlets. Create and curate more quality content.
Another important consideration, don’t discount the role of Google when it comes to reputation management for communities. Not only as a hub for online reviews, but also for breaking news. What would display in Google searches if a crisis or issue happened at your community? Are you and your leadership team prepared? Do you know how to minimize the effect? It’s vital to monitor Google frequently, as every piece of new information about your community continually shapes the whole story users see when they search for your community.
Lindsay Steiner: Search Marketing Manager
As a marketer who specializes in paid search, people assume I don’t click on the ads that are shown on Google’s results page. In reality, I frequently click Google paid ads because I trust them to take me to exactly what I’m looking for, without waiting. Their algorithm considers so many factors that Google search results provide me the most consistently relevant results – even when they’re getting paid.
As we move further into the digital era and learn to better utilize the information it provides us, trust is no longer generated by a brand name or a media identity, but by the fusion of traditional sources, personal experiences and social media. It’s from this new perspective that people now interact with the information they encounter online.
As a society, we’re more and more addicted to “now.” Google understands this, and has made their SERPs the place to get your answers, now.
Sometimes, the difference between failure and success is recognizing and acting upon the things you can control. Well-planned and thoughtful digital marketing strategies will help you control how Google represents your community in its search results.
Are you doing everything you can to make Google work for your community?