I came across an article today that spoke to the proverbial white elephant in the room – people navigate the web using Google (or their favorite search engine, which is probably Google) even when they know the web URL they are seeking.
Why is this a white elephant?
We all like to think that people will go to the sites they want directly by entering the URL into the browser, using bookmarks to go to the sites they enjoy, or using readers to find posts from specific sites to find content. In short, they will get to the site they want to go to directly or by referral – no detours, no risk of getting lost.
The reality is people don’t do this. Instead, they search. And when they search, it means your site must be optmized for search to be found by every individual’s unique spin on search – people will search your company url, name or what they think is your url or name.
Who does this? Hands up – me included.
I hit Google probably 20 or more time a day. The fact is, I don’t put a web address into my browser, I enter it in Google, confirm it is what I’m looking for, and click on the link to get to where I want to be online.
In essence, the author of the article admitted to not using many of the additional features available, and in looking around noticed his family and friends were navigating via Google. Then he did some research and found that over 50% of people online use search engines to go to a known site instead of typing the URL into the browser bar. Read the article here.
I can confirm this based on keyword results for NewsOverCoffee. In the past year, the top eight keyword combinations were all variations of the site URL and there were many more outside the top 10 accounting for over 50% of my search engine traffic. This means they were trying to find me.
What does this mean? Why is this important?
With more sites, micro-sites, and information online today than ever before, these search engines have their work cut out for them. Search is how you are found. Your site must be optmized within your ability and budget. You need to make sure that fundamentals are in place and that you can leverage analytics and SEO tools to help the search engines help people to find you online.