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The Death of the Address Bar & What This Means to Search Engine Marketers

May 23, 2008
Remember when you used to navigate to a Web site by typing the URL into the address bar? You'd start by typing http. Then, you evolved and skipped using the http and just entered www. Now, you simply go to the search engine of your choice and type the company name you are looking for.

Why did this happen?

1. People Trust Search Engines To Deliver Accurate Results

Back in the day, search engines weren't as reliable as they are today. Five years ago, if you searched for a company's name, you'd be lucky if the first listing in the search results was the company you were looking for. Today, this is not the case. When you search for a company name, you can almost guarantee that the very first search result will be the company you are looking for.

2. The Rise of Toolbars

Most Internet users today have a toolbar with a search box installed on their computer. Since the trust in search engines to deliver accurate results is at an all-time high, it's understandable that people with toolbars are going to be more likely to use the search box right in front of them, rather than type in a lengthy web address.

Another reason for the rise in toolbars is that all major search engines have toolbar offerings of their own. The reason for this is that they want to encourage you to use their search box on their toolbar because they then have the opportunity to make money, whereas they do not have the opportunity to make money from use of the address bar.

3. Homepages are Search Engines

Most people today have a search engine set as their homepage; therefore, access to a search box is never further away than clicking the home button. Since getting to a search box is so easy, people use it more frequently than they would an address bar.

So What Does This Mean to Search Engine Marketers?

If you ask any search marketer what their best keyword is, they almost always tell you it is their company name or a derivative of that, i.e. branded terms. So why do branded terms make such great keywords?

When people buy online, they often require more than one visit to a site before the conversion takes place. Typically, their first visit is generated from a paid search ad that is for a generic term, product name or model number. After doing one of those searches, they now know who offers this product and have an idea of who they want to buy from.

Now that they know where they want to buy the product from, they have to get back to that Web site. Since we now know that the address bar is dead, how do they get back to the site? They go to their trusted search engine and enter the name of the company as a search term in their toolbar or search box on their homepage, then either click on your paid search ad for your branded term or, if you're lucky, your organic search result.

Since nearly all search marketers today give conversion credit to the last ad that gets clicked, they very often are giving credit to their branded terms. The problem is that it was the keyword the user searched for prior to the branded term that introduced them to your company and influenced them to want to buy the product from you. The only reason why they typed in your company name and clicked on your branded ad was to navigate back to your site.

Search engine marketers need to implement technologies that look at all of the ads in the sale versus only seeing the very last ad before the conversion. With this type of technology in place, search engine marketers can give credit where credit is due. In this example, the credit should go to the first keyword that was clicked on, not the branded keyword, since the branded keyword was only used to navigate back to the site. Branded terms need to be a part of your campaigns; however, they should not steal credit for sales from other ads that are doing all the work.
About the Author
Adam is the Chief Revenue Office at ClearSaleing. He is a seasoned sales manager starting insides sales teams at Google and Actuate Software. Adam holds a B.S.B.A. in Marketing from The Ohio State University. ClearSaleing
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