How experimentation keeps brands competitive – even against players like Google

The launch of Google’s job search func­tion­al­i­ty, which fol­lowed its for­ay into trav­el, might leave busi­ness­es in oth­er ver­ti­cals wor­ried their indus­tries are next – and how they could ever com­pete with the search giant. But no mat­ter where Google goes next...

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

The launch of Google’s job search func­tion­al­i­ty, which fol­lowed its for­ay into trav­el, might leave busi­ness­es in oth­er ver­ti­cals wor­ried their indus­tries are next – and how they could ever com­pete with the search giant.

But no mat­ter where Google goes next, it’s not doom and gloom – at least not for for­ward-think­ing play­ers will­ing to evolve.

In fact, accord­ing to Mar­cus Miller, head of SEO and PPC at dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm Bowler Hat, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that, while pow­er­ful, even Google is not invin­ci­ble.

You only have to look at Google Plus to know that every­thing Google touch­es does not turn to gold,” he said.

Indeed, point­ing to Google’s biggest flops of all time – which also include Google Video, Dodge­ball and Google Answers – Tom LaVec­chia, pres­i­dent of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm X Fac­tor Media, agreed that even though Google “has many, many wins, [it] con­stant­ly [exper­i­ments] and [fails] all the time”.

And it’s that will­ing­ness to exper­i­ment that is key to sur­vival for any busi­ness.

In a sim­i­lar vein, Miller con­ced­ed many small­er niche busi­ness­es have lost traf­fic to more advanced search engine func­tion­al­i­ty from Google.

Con­sid­er the site — I won­der how much traf­fic [it] lost when Google start­ed show­ing a user’s IP on the search engine result pages? Like­wise, online cal­cu­la­tors and the like. If your busi­ness is based on sim­ple answers that the search engine can deliv­er, then you are on shaky ground,” Miller said. “But recruit­ment? Trav­el? I am not sure Google can pro­vide all the answers here. Cer­tain­ly, the recruit­ment indus­try is built on rela­tion­ships and trust. A search engine or AI sys­tem can’t replace every­thing that human does in these indus­tries (yet at least). We live in dis­rup­tive times. Things are chang­ing. Rapid­ly. The busi­ness­es of tomor­row are the ones that will adapt to and ben­e­fit from the changes of today.”

Per David Erick­son, vice pres­i­dent of online mar­ket­ing at Kar­wos­ki & Courage Pub­lic Rela­tions, the most obvi­ous way brands can cap­i­tal­ize on Google’s job search func­tion­al­i­ty specif­i­cal­ly is to mark up job list­ing pages using its struc­tured data require­ments.

That gives brands the chance to have their job post­ings list­ed direct­ly in search results rather than going through a third-par­ty employ­ment list­ings provider with the added ben­e­fit of col­lect­ing user behav­ior data direct­ly from the brand web­site,” Erick­son said.

But, on a broad­er lev­el, brands should think about Google’s role in their indus­tries and what Google knows over­all, which, in the case of trav­el, is quite a lot.

Think about how con­sumers behave…: They research the places they plan to vis­it. They prob­a­bly email links to web­sites they’ve found as a result of that research. They find accom­mo­da­tions and plane tick­ets via search. Whether those clicks occurred via a Google Ad or the organ­ic list­ing, Google knows about it,” Erick­son said. “When they book their hotel and air­fare, they get a receipt emailed to them, prob­a­bly to a Gmail account and the pur­chase was like­ly tracked by Google Ana­lyt­ics. They like­ly get auto­mat­ic noti­fi­ca­tions of changes to their flight plans from the Google app and/or they may use Google voice via a mobile app or Google Home to check on their flight sta­tus.”

As a result, Google explic­it­ly under­stands the cus­tomer jour­ney and any bot­tle­necks with­in for a huge per­cent­age of trav­el­ers, which it can now exploit.

And, Erick­son observed, the same fun­da­men­tal dynam­ic holds true for con­sumers look­ing for jobs.

They search for oppor­tu­ni­ties and email them­selves the research. Even if they are not using Google to search for jobs, they are like­ly get­ting job alerts emailed to them via LinkedIn or oth­er job list­ing sites,” he said. “If it’s in Gmail, Google will know how they inter­act with those list­ings. And then, if a con­ver­sa­tion with a recruiter or HR man­ag­er fol­lows, Google will know if a job offer was made and accept­ed or declined. These types of trans­ac­tions occur with­in Gmail on a mas­sive scale every day, so Google has the dataset to rec­og­nize pat­terns not just among job seek­ers, but among job seek­ers with­in spe­cif­ic indus­tries.”

As a result, Erick­son said the real ques­tion each busi­ness should ask is, “What does Google know about my indus­try?”

That in turn can help busi­ness­es bet­ter under­stand the cus­tomer jour­ney and asso­ci­at­ed bot­tle­necks – and iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties them­selves.

Or, as Brock Mur­ray, COO of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agency seo­plus+, put it, this is anoth­er sign that web pres­ence opti­miza­tion is the imper­a­tive for busi­ness­es, not sim­ply web­site opti­miza­tion.

Google has a mis­sion to help searchers com­plete the desired action with­in their plat­form, whether that is look­ing up store hours, book­ing an appoint­ment or even search­ing for jobs,” he added.

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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