Like millions of consumers, I am Googling, Googling, Googling all day, every day.
Google is my virtual confidant. One that probably knows me better than some of my friends and even family members. WHY?
Because I tend to ask everything to Google. I mean everything…
From my deeeep, spiritual questions to simple day to day things as how to make vegetable soup (yes I am useless in the kitchen).
There are 6b queries in a given day. Which makes me feel better about my reliance to search engines to find what I am looking for. And aside from my searches on cooking for dummies, Edelman TRUST BAROMETER™ (a brilliant, global “flashlight” revealing trust levels in different institutions,that I also happened to be a part of, back in my days at Edelman) unveils that 64% of general population trusts search engines as a source of general news and information. 64% PEOPLE…Care to read more about how to turbo charge PR w SEO, click here
Google search data is the search data of the future. It is the consumer insights source to watch out for.
Curious about how searches done on Google can illuminate different sides of human psychology and behaviours? Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is THE must read book for you then.
SO WHAT DOES GOOGLE SEARCH DATA HAS TO OFFER FOR US?
Think of me as your consumer: There is so much insight that you can learn about me just by my search behaviour and queries. And the beauty of it all, what you would learn is likely to be much more authentic and honest than what I would reveal if I were sitting at a focus group.
Where does this honesty come from? Because I have absolutely zero drive to filter or withhold my reality while Googling. I don’t have to worry about sounding stupid for asking a certain question, not knowing how to spell something (which happens to me quite a lot because I am an expat), nor feeling the need to filter my likes and dislikes with the fear of being judged. I am completely honest with myself and my keyboard about what I think and what I want.
This takes the discipline of consumer insights to a whole new level and brings me to my point.
Premium chocolate Godiva Founder Pierre Draps had said: “I was born in chocolate…it has seduced me and I have dedicated myself all my life to this art. I have lived a wonderful dream.”
Well Google seduced ME and I am totally obsessed with it. (Hi my name is Elif, I am a Google-a-holic)….
I think and talk about this so much that my family and colleagues are sick and tired of hearing it. My 66 year old mother had been exposed to this topic so much that by now I totally bet she is capable of conducting simple data mining about her favorite TV show.
Yes it gives me great happiness to think and talk about Google search data BUT this is not important to you.
I will remind myself of what I, as a comms consultant advise to others: “What is in it for your audience? Why would they care to read your passion about Google?”
BRAND GATE KEEPERS, WAKE UP AND SMELL GOOGLE SEARCH DATA
We are living in a fast-paced world where consumers are bombarded with brand messages and campaigns. In this frenzy of information, they are looking for personalization and accuracy in targeting more than ever. This is where this model of data comes into play.
I just want to set the record straight before diving deeper: What I am suggesting is not throwing away traditional ways of mining consumer insights nor tossing aside focus groups BUT what I am saying is this can actually be complementary to turbo charge current efforts, especially in parts of the world with high internet penetration. Google search data is a faster, budget friendly and more authentic way of understanding what your consumer truly thinks about you and your brand. It can unlock insights that traditional researches might have missed.
1-KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Are you sure you understand every single way people refer to your product or service? Do you know what exactly your consumers want to know about your products or do you assume you know? If it is the latter, you might want to see some Google search datasets before you do your content strategy as what you think they want to know might differ from reality. Mind the gap!
You can use tools like Google Consumer Barometer to further understand your audience or Google Trends to see what people are talking about you, the likes of you or things associated to you.
Find out what people are curious about your line of business. Identify their queries, concerns through Google searches and make sure to inject these insights into your content strategy.
What do you want to be known for? You want to take the lead on a specific issue or subject related to your sector? Find out what people want to know about that and start talking in an SEO friendly way and with time, you might be more visible for the queries you want to associate yourself with.
The more basic the query is, the more difficult to get higher ranking on the organic results due to high volume and players, so see if you can be more targeted about what you want to “call yourself”.
Some say SEO is dead, I respectfully disagree, they had said PR was dead as well yet here I am, a living, breathing sample of my kind. Good content married with optimized outreach& channels is still valuable.
2- BRAND AWARENESS
You launched your product. Google searches on it are getting higher. A good sign of brand awareness indeed, but that is not where you stop at… Find out the “what and how” of these queries on 1-your product, 2- around your product and 3 – industry that your product is in. This might give you a clearer picture of how well you managed to convey your message and how was it received.
3- GOOGLE SEARCHES; NEW KPI FOR BRANDS?
When you do a new product launch, have you ever tried measuring Google search queries? If not, you better start, as this can be a quick and handy measurement or even a new set of KPI for your campaign.
Before-during-after any kind of brand related activity, you can zoom in on searches around your related keywords to analyse how your efforts may have impacted consumer trends and/or brand awareness & perception.
4- BRAND ASSOCIATION
Do you claim to be the best car service company ever? Test how much your consumers are associating yourself with that. Measure the % and how many times your brand is being mentioned on the top organic results for queries around best car service companies and benchmark yourself against competitors.
5- NPD AND INNOVATION IDEAS
Google searches sometimes can reveal new product ideas that you haven’t thought about or gotten a chance to convince your boss to go for.
Imagine you are a marketing or R&D manager who came up with a brilliant new product but your boss is questioning the appetite of the market for it and wants to see some proof. You can strengthen your case by showing him Google search data and trends revealing the consumer demand for it.
6-NEW MARKET ENTRY
You want to expand your product or services to another country but not sure if it is the right move? Like our marketing manager above, eager to get his boss to agree on his new product idea, why don’t you zoom in on the Google searches done on that specific region to see if there is appetite for your product and/or how you can market it?
You can even forecast the best timing to enter the market by watching closely Google search trends around your product and/or service. A good exemplary tool for this would be Market finder.
7- OPTIMIZE YOUR MEDIA SPENDING
Every communication guideline you see is talking about the importance of being much more targeted and relevant to consumers. It is the no brainer of today’s digital world.
Use analytics to better target your communication and advertising. You might optimize your media spending by better targeting what your consumers really read, follow, consume. You may choose NOT TO SPEND 20X to be featured on THE leading platform when you realize your audience is actually following Y website’s Z tab and you can spend 5X and feature your ad on that tab. This might give you a higher chance of finding your consumer with the right content at the right channel.
8- CONSUMER TESTS
You can do fast, budget friendly consumer tests, including A/B testing through Google and analytics. Pink or blue font for your ad? Ask Google. Round or square Buy button for your website, ask Google.
You created an ad campaign and want to test the waters? Run it on a smaller audience on Google and see what they have to say about it before you go all national on the ad.
Some of the Google search data can sometimes prove only the obvious which is what the sceptics about this form of data usually argue but it is always useful to prove your case with tangible facts and numbers than your gut feeling.
And sometimes this dataset can even prove right or wrong traditional consumer test results.
9- TREND BAROMETER
Track search trends to further grasp the agenda of the regions you operate in and see if you can leverage this through PR or marketing efforts.
This can be a complementary effort to your social media tracking to pick up on trends.
Again, I want to emphasize that this is not an exact science YET. Research scope and sample sizes might not be as fruitful as you wish them to be sometimes but it is a faster, budget friendly and authentic way of conducting brand research and is definitely worth seeing what you can make of this for your brands.
ETHICAL SIDE OF THINGS
This is all good and great but of course there should be rules to define what brands, corporations could and should get their hands on not to compromise the privacy of personal data and rights.
This is a major discussion nowadays. We can all agree that technology evolves at a much faster pace than law and ethics do. The objectivity of an AI giving loans at a bank, the accountability of a self-driving car in case of an accident and many more grey areas are still waiting to be defined more clearly. If I were in legal, this would be the emerging area I would focus on to survive the digital earthquake.
Law and ethics need to turbo charge their efforts to keep up with the tech sector. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the new set of cross-EU data rule that will come into play in a couple of months will change the landscape for brands and consumer insights dramatically. Companies need to clearly understand it and align their businesses accordingly. Is your brand ready?
On the subject of ethics, the beauty of Google search data is that you can zoom in as much as you want to on the data and it will still remain anonymous which means you can pick up on the silly searches made around how to make a simple vegetable soup in London but won’t find out they actually belong to me.
Any questions or comments I am around to talk and by doing so, believe me, you would be performing a community service and giving the ears of my entourage a well-deserved break.
If not, keep calm and Google it!
Disclaimer: As a responsible PR professional, of course I have to emphasize that everything you see and read on my page- including this article- is a reflection of my own thinking bubble and doesn’t represent in any way the opinions or positioning of my employer.
Big Data Enthusiast, Communicator, dedicated to understanding and using data to transform the way we work and play London, Greater London, United Kingdom