Back in February we reported Google Trends data showing search volumes declining for numerous common categories. In the past four years, searches for movie reviews, financial services, florists, digital cameras, cancer treatment and sexy lingerie are all down about 50 percent. Now Alex Campbell, a strategy consultant at DTDigital / OgilvyInteractive in Melbourne, posits that consumers are migrating to social media instead of search engines to find what they need online. He lists three factors:
1. “Social networks have dramatically expanded my network of contacts” who “share similar interests,” Alex says, so he trusts their recommendations more than those from Google.
2. SEO experts have killed their own game. “The SEO industry has transformed from ‘help Google index my site better’ to ‘how can I beat Google’s relevance algorithms to show people results they don’t want’.” The natural result is many common searches turn up companies that are not the most relevant, but have gamed their way to the top of the listings.
3. “The flow of information has changed,” Alex suggests. “In times past, I was always seeking out information through Google search. Now the vast majority of the information I am interested in comes to me, rather than me having to go out and find it.” As people become skilled in setting up human networks among experts with ideas they like, they build their own information feeds that often supplant Google.
The movie review test
Alex is not predicting the death of Google, and neither are we. Search engine marketing, especially paid search, remains a powerful tool for marketers to share wares with the customers searching for them. We believe, though, that Google requires ever more careful management of paid search campaigns due to rising competition and diminished consumer interest. With only 24 hours in a day, it is obvious that Google will reset at a lower search volume … because people seeking information via human networks spend less time asking computer algorithms for help.