Search is a sacred place where online and offline, consumer and brand, meet and join together in holy matrimony. Can I get an “Amen?” Except when it’s more like The Lockhorns and your online and offline messages end up tripping over each other instead of amplifying your brand story. The New York Times ran a story today about plastic surgeons who offer discounts to their customers in exchange for making a video about how great their elective surgery was and posting it on YouTube. So testimonials good, right? No, paid testimonials for Dr. Giggles bad – me no trust. What probably sounded like great online-offline synergy (and yes, I did taste a little three-hour old breakfast when I typed that word) actually has led to bad press, negative blog postings, and hurt the reputation of the doctors involved.
This week Reprise Media’s Managing Partner Peter Hershberg took part in Business Wire’s panel discussion titled A Social Media Conversation: How PR, IR & Marketing Professionals Can Engage and Participate in the Social Web. As Peter was talking about a total brand approach to both social media and search I could see his fellow panelist Melissa Bauer, Senior Public Relations Manager at The Knot Inc. nodding her head in agreement.
When Melissa began to speak about how The Knot, a wedding resource site, seamlessly interconnects its publishing (books, magazines and syndicated columns) and television properties, with its website which, in turn, houses a major social networking area, a localized vendor search resource, and a library of social widgets that can be integrated into networks like Facebook, it was Peter’s turn to nod. Here’s a company that understands the best use of its website – as a nexus around which all of their on and offline user activity revolves in a totally integrated and on-message way. Whew!
For all that integrated lovey-dovey goodness The Knot does come up short in one area – which proves that even a good marriage always takes work. When you pop the term “wedding” or “weddings” into Google The Knot shows up as number 1 organically. However the spots below that are all taken up by other wedding sites, as are the paid search ads. Before you get out your giant foam “#1” pointy-hand Knotsters, there is plenty of data that has shown that users will click on number 1, but they often go back and click on number 2 for comparison. Once they are on 2 they often don’t go back to the results page so you’ve lost some customers.
Today’s search users are also more likely to type in more than one-word phrases but if you type in “Wedding Dresses” or “Wedding Photographer” The Knot isn’t in the top results. Despite The Knot’s cool segmentation into local resources on their site, typing in “Wedding Photographer Wisconsin” or “Wedding Dresses New Jersey” doesn’t bring up their site on the first page of results at all.
So how can The Knot strengthen their great marriage of online and offline elements? We would suggest that a targeted paid search campaign including strategic keywords would do wonders to help get theknot.com better placement in those search results and drive even more traffic to what is surely the premiere site for wedding planning. In addition, all of their cool tools and applications should be cross-linked and optimized in their own right… the more links they can stack onto the first page of results, the more chance someone is going to click on one of them, and the less opportunity competitors have to get placement.