You Are Viewing Search

Google Search Results now include Forum threads

Posted By Sujith Kosaraju on October 1st, 2009

Google had added yet another search feature to its search engine that will now start showing additional info, from threads on forums, based on relevancy to your search query.

In Google’s words –

This new addition to Google search results applies to sites that tend to have a large number of posts on a specific topic. When several different discussions on a site are relevant to your query, we indent them under the primary result and include the date of each post.

Basically this means good news to the forum owners who has loads of content on any given topic or keyword. Google instead of diluting its results with multiple listings will bring the same into single listing with related listings. When your search query matches more than one thread on a forum, Google might list down some of those threads right in your web results.

For example if you search for [rome to paris train] you will see, below the sixth result, a list of relevant discussions on various ways to get between these cities.

Google Search with forum results for Rome to paris train

Google Search with forum results for Rome to paris train

Above results show the different options for the user which makes life easy for him to decide and go after instead of researching back again on a vast forum.

Idea behind this Google Search with forum listings could be to increase the quality of listings and to reduce the dilution of its own search results not by listing multiple forum threads.

Would be interesting to see how Google takes its search listings for Social Media sites and Micro Blogging sites.

Serving the new On-Demand Consumer

Posted By Sujith Kosaraju on September 26th, 2009

By many 2009 is called the year of death for retail companies if they don’t constantly thrive and innovate towards serving the customer. Stores have been closing as the consumer spending hit an all time low, big retail chains have been filing for bankruptcy. Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz in a recent TV Interview says “We thought we were recession-proof, but we’re not.”

With ever increasing consumer uneasiness towards the whole economic situation and consumers finding ways to spend money productively and more efficiently, now it is the turn of the retailers who have to spend more time researching what user wants and then serve what he is looking for.

2009 is the year that e-commerce comes of age. It is the leading strategy for any successful multi-channel retailer. The dotcom is no longer just another store; it is the store that drives sales to the other stores.

But what is this all about, is this the death of the big retail chains who don’t spend time to innovate, who don’t evolve or adapt to the new trends of info commerce, who don’t adapt to the changing consumer information search patterns. Retailers have to constantly reduce the gap between online and offline transactions. Some of the important trends or market buzz that the retailers should pay close attention to

Shopping Trends

1. New Shopping Paradigm: The Shifters
2. Multichannel Linking (Online with Offline)
3. Improving your website for Local Searches?
4. Reducing the Gap between information serving to servicing.
5. Leveraging the power of Long Tail Local keywords.

New Shopping Paradigm: The Shifters

A national survey conducted by IBM among 30,000 U.S. consumers has found some encouraging results for the retailers. They have found a valuable category of consumers called the “Shifters” who are changing their shopping habits to deal with shifting budgets and incomes. “Shifters” are none other than shoppers who move their purchases to new retailers which will open up new window of opportunity for retailers.

The trend shows that tighter budgets, prevailing economic conditions and lower confidence have changed fundamentally the way consumer shop today. Two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they are postponing purchases or buying fewer items overall, while 60 percent of consumers indicated they are shopping more often for products on sale and using coupons. In light of this new shopping paradigm, the report warns retailers against relying solely on past purchase patterns to forecast future consumer demand.

Shifters are more valuable to the retailers as they contribute to 30 percent of the entire shoppers segment. The top three reasons for Shifters to buy products from any retailer is the Price/Promotion, Local Convenience and Product Availability which opens up new opportunities to retailers to tap this ‘Shifters’ with information that he is looking for at the convenience of his time.

Multichannel Linking (Online with Offline)

The “Initiation Point” of Commerce

Not long ago, we can recall the days where e-commerce was at a nascent stage where consumers had to depend solely on the Retailer Store staff to find information about a product. Current information search patterns have changed tremendously on the way how consumers typically find product information.

Product Search Cycle:

Customers today often bypass retailers and start their product research directly with the manufacturer. Along the way, customers may consult with hundreds of other consumers who’ve purchased the product before by simply researching on the Internet.

Retailers who package goods online for sale might be completely ignored until the product has been decided by the consumer or till he finds the best deal. The transparency of the online medium has put the consumer firmly in control of the purchase process.

So the question now arises whether Online is the future of Offline? Yes, the Jupiter Research, historically one of the most bullish analyst firms has stated that e-commerce is “maturing” but that the Internet will influence “a trillion” dollars in in-store sales by 2010. So for retailer it’s more about empowering the consumers and giving them the tools and the information they need to make the right purchase decision.

According to the recent consumer surveys conducted by Nielsen and Yahoo Search on online consumer retail purchase behavior has showed that 80% of consumers have bought from a store whose Web site they visited first.

While only twelve percent of shoppers go and buy direct from a manufacturer’s website, the amount of commerce that is carried out on the Web is several times as much, you can maximize your multi-channel performance with up-to-date stock information for your authorized online retailers as well as local outlets. This allows you to give the consumer more of the choice they want to complete the purchase where, when and how they prefer.

Go Local: Make your website Local Targeted

In this busy world every one requires relevant information at an identifiable place which increases the chance of a lead turning into a customer. This short span is where any retailer with a website has to enthuse the customer with the required product and by Go-Test place finder.

Consider how easy it would be if you are searching for a laptop and the relevant website retailer throws up a product page with the closest Sony showroom retailer to your place. Challenge for any e-commerce retailer is to tune their website targeting more of local searches than broadly optimizing for generic product searches.

A consumer looking for a local retailer, entertainment outlet, or service business is often much closer in time to a buying decision, and their level of interest is greater. “Local clicks” very often represent better leads and convert better than general clicks.”

So how do I make my website leverage local targeted traffic, these are few simple answers to the retailers and websites.

o Make Product information readily available on your website.
o Show Local stores with product in stock.
o Offer contact information and ways to reach the local store.
o Provide Flexible buying options When, Where and how they want.
o Route the information to your local store and Connect to the customer in short time.

Reducing the Gap between information serving to servicing

Sites that rely heavily on lead generation should churn out information quickly with faster service times.

The instant access to information on the Internet has created the expectation that everything should be rapidly available – from complete product guides to images shopping comparisons to reviews and choice of product delivery. Shoppers expect that prices and points-of-sale can be easily compared. Added to this the short attention spans of Online Shoppers is another important factor to consider while serving the information to the shoppers.

According to Jason Burby: “Often what makes or breaks the sale is your offline conversion process. You can easily swing 50 percent depending on a few variables:

* How quickly does follow-up occur? Numerous studies show the quicker follow-up occurs, the higher likelihood of a sale.

* How good is the person following up? Is she polite? Does she represent the brand? Is she easy to work with?

* How well can the salesperson customize his story? The salesperson knowing specifically what the prospect was interested in rather than asking how he can help the prospect will make a big difference.

Retailers must balance attitudinal measurements as well as measure the impact of offline follow-up as they make site changes. Often, offline follow-up can be the key to closing those leads coming through the Web channel.”

These things don’t really feel connected to your site, but as they — and offline conversions as a result — fluctuate, your Web channel’s value will fluctuate as well. Make sure you take the time to understand their impact and invest in improving them.

Leveraging the power of Long Tail Local keywords

Today most of the searches that are carried on the internet are not of generic in nature but are pure long tail keywords. So a long tail keyword is a combination of 3-6 words that are specific and relevant to the products that you sell. In simple terms, any generic keyword that has product features, Model number, SKU no. price range, etc. can be taken as a long tail keyword.

Long Tail keywords vs. Generic keywords

An online user who is using short tail keywords (generic keywords to be specific) such as “digital camera” may be looking for different brands/models available in digital camera category or might be conducting some research on how digital camera works. So it is better to make your category pages filled with short keywords. Example: Digital Camera, Desktop, etc…

The Real Truth about Long Tail Keywords:

* Can easily rank in search engines
* Will not have too much competition
* Will not be present in keyword database because search volume is very minimal
* Can boost conversion (but depends on various factors, we shall see this in later part of our article)

So make your product pages more long tail keyword rich by following these simple strategies

Use general keywords in the website home page – Example: Camera & Photo

Use category specific keywords in category pages – Example: Digital Camera

Use brand specific keywords in brand category pages – Example: Canon Digital Camera

Use long tail product keywords in the specific product page – Example: Canon Digital Camera 7.1mp with 3x Optical Zoom

“Long tail keywords can bring conversion only if your website (landing page) content is relevant to the search phrase along with the availability of other landing page hygiene factors.”

Bing continues to Grow

Posted By Sujith Kosaraju on September 25th, 2009

Good news for Bing fans, The search engine continues to grow from its inception. According to the August 2009 Comscore search rankings, Microsoft sites grabbed an additional 0.4% share. Meanwhile, Google lost 0.1% share as did AOL, which is powered by Google search. Yahoo! and Ask.com remained steady.

This brings Bing’s market share gains since launch to 1.3% and Google’s loss since Bing’s launch to 0.4%. With the latest August numbers Microsoft stands at 9.3% compared to Google at 64.6%, this is first time ever Google’s Search share is dropping after the Search giant has taken over Yahoo Search.

Search Market Share August 2009

Search Market Share August 2009

Meanwhile, Bing experienced the biggest growth among the top 5 in search queries, at 7%, outpacing the percentage growth of overall searches as well.

New Features on Bing worth a try

Posted By Sujith Kosaraju on June 1st, 2009

Bing.com the all new search engine from Microsoft went live quietly today with out much hype. Already reviews from majority of the Tech sites have rated the search engine much user friendlier and as the Google killer. Lot of positive responses can be seen around on blogs and discussion about Microsoft Bing.

Few new features of Bing to try:

  • An ambiguous Web search: “turkey” (do you want images, recipes, facts, or a map of the country? The topic guides in the left explore pane will help you narrow your search).
  • All travel related searches: Bing Travel. Don’t have to visit a travel website, check the query for “chennai to hyderabad”.
  • Video search: “Tendulkar”  (Cool part is the video plays there itself, just hover over the thumbnail to play the video)
  • Image search: “Tiger” (infinite scroll displays all the images) with options to choose like Size, Layout, Colour,Style and People.
  • A health search: “Sore throat”
  • Shopping: “Digital SLR” (sort by price or brand, get average ratings and CashBack).
  • Maps: “BBQ” (automatically knows what city you are in and offers up geo-appropriate results).
  • News Search: “Bing” (what else?)

Check the all new Bing for yourself now at http://www.bing.com

Microsoft Bing goes Live

Posted By Sujith Kosaraju on June 1st, 2009

bing-goes-live

All new Micros0ft Bing Search Engine goes live. Check the first cut reviews of Bing Search here.

Bing the all new Search Engine from Microsoft

Posted By Sujith Kosaraju on May 29th, 2009

Microsoft on Thursday unveiled their all new Search Engine Bing formerly code-named Kumo. Experts and reviewers around the world have already rated this product on par or even better than Google Search. Microsoft has done a great job in building this product with lot of improvements over their current product Live Search.

bing-logo

First cut Reviews of Microsoft Bing from all over the world

Wired Magazine says – With Bing, Microsoft has shown that it understands that different kinds of searches require different kinds of answers and interfaces. They’ve shown too they understand that a search is often only the beginning of a decision such as what Indian restaurant to try or what kind type and model of water filter is best. Read more about Bling at Wired Magazine.

Cnet Concludes – Google keeps improving in the area of in-search collation and display as well, but Bing makes Google look complacent, and that’s not good for Google. For the moment, Bing’s on top in this game. Try this search engine. I do not think you will regret it.

Bing willl go live worldwide by June 3rd 2009 and every search professional till then would be waiting to use this product.

More information and videos about  Bing.com service is available here.