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Search engine competition and the need for a cohesive Internet strategy

A new study released by The Australia Institute has highlighted the importance of high rankings within search engines. The Institute surveyed 1,084 respondents in July 2011 in regard to perceptions around online competition.

Importantly, this research found that 46% of respondents stated that they are always or sometimes influenced by the order of search results when considering an online purchase. In this regard just 15% of respondents stated that they viewed sites beyond the first page of search results.

While the various search engines can display differing results, the search engine usage in Australia is highly concentrated with Google having 93.2% market share. This is higher than the global average of 82.76% and well above Google’s market share of 67.55% in the US.

While this reinforces the need to optimise your website to appear favourably in search engine results, a process known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it also demonstrates the need for a cohesive Internet strategy.

While search engine optimisation is clearly important, not everyone will be able to claim the first spot in search results. This is why there is a need for a cohesive Internet strategy that incorporates search results, social media and other tools to reach prospective customers.

Internet users actively engage in social media, in Australia alone there are over 10 million Facebook accounts, representing a market penetration of 49%. Likewise many businesses actively generate sales through Twitter through regular tweets and discussion. These tools are also important in reaching potential customers and this reflects the need to integrate your website with social media.

In addition, other tools can also potentially improve search results, with Google often utilising its supplementary services like Google Maps and YouTube in influencing the order of results. It is probable that Google will introduce a similar approach with Google Plus, Google’s new social networking site. Already Google introduced its +1 feature whereby visitors can show that they like the content on a website and it would be fair to expect that there would be increased integration between Google Plus and search results in the future.

Combined these tools can assist in complementing results from search engines providing an Internet strategy that works across search engines, social media and other tools utilised by Internet users and your potential customers.

The Australia Institute is an independent think tank based in Canberra that researches a variety of economic, social and environmental issues. For further information please view the report what you don’t know can hurt you from The Australia Institute website.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex’s expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

More posts by Alex Makin

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Kylie says:

    Thanks, some great advice!

    • Alex Makin says:

      Hi Kylie, thanks for your feedback. Search engines are definitely important but so is a proactive approach to social media to extend the reach of your website..

      Alex

  • Dianne says:

    Does Google Plus influence SEO?

    • Alex Makin says:

      Dianne,

      As Google’s new social media platform it is still a bit too early to examine conclusively how Google Plus will influence search engine results and optimisation.

      Given however that Google’s other tools, such as Youtube and Maps, influence the effectiveness of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) it is perhaps inevitable that Google Plus will also be a factor in future SEO initiatives.

      The Google +1 feature was a precursor to Google Plus and provides in essence a peer review process of determining the relevancy of a website. Google +1 obviously has an impact on SEO and no doubt this will be extended through Google Plus.

      Thanks,

      Alex

  • John says:

    How does a Facebook Page or Twitter account help in search engine rankings?

    • Alex Makin says:

      John,

      Search engines such as Google partially measure the relevancy of a site through the links it has via other sources. This is known as backlinks and occurs when other websites or social media tools, such as Twitter or Facebook include links back to your site to a specific page.

      These backlinks help determine the popularity and relevancy of a page and hence tend to increase the potential for a higher search ranking.

      Thanks,

      Alex

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