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What’s white, invisible, invaluable and online now?

No search returns!

By that I mean the empty returns so many B2B websites deliver to their users.  They’re actually gold dust.  They allow us to extract value from exactly nothing.  And we do it without a magic wand in sight.

Ever get sick of searching B2B websites for an obvious business term and returning no results? I’m often confronted with a big fat zero on my travels.

As a user I’m disappointed.  I’m searching with intent but there’s nothing to speed me to my destination.  I’ll probably take my query elsewhere.

But this cloud has the glint of a silver lining.  As a website owner it’s top quality, real-time, HD feedback.  A search failure is often the manifestation of deep, painful and hard-to-fix core content issues – stuff I need to have my eye on.

Tech markets move fast.  Sometimes change is instant: Steve Jobs said iPad this week and, suddenly, a generation of websites are talking the wrong language.  But more often it’s constant, and internal search results help us stay in-touch.

Here’s just a snap-shot of the juicy goodies search can help answer:

Is my marketing positioning right?
Not if you’re positioned around ECM while users search for CRM in droves.

Do I have the right content?
If you’re not topical then you’re out of date fast.  It’s just one more reason to blog.

How can I evolve my SEO strategy?
Search tells you exactly what your customers are looking for right now.

Is my site architecture right?
Search use becomes more erratic when your site navigation breaks down and fails your users.

What kind of users do I have?
If you’ve lots of high intent users (lucky you) then you’d better speed things up for them.

How valuable is my search box?
Invariably people who search are more likely to buy.  Search is a weapon.

Analytics Customization
Now what B2B marketing team doesn’t want to know all the above and more?  Well, in true you-couldn’t-make-this stuff-up fashion: almost all of them, apparently.

Most firms don’t even have the Google Analytics search facility switched on.  It’s the first thing we do to customize marketing analytics packages for clients.

It’s customer research, user surveys and content testing all rolled into one.  And it costs a big fat zero.

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