Guestpost Bill Hunt: Bill Hunt’s Crystal Ball Reading

Wed 20 January 2010 11:00, Bas van den Beld

Guestpost Bill Hunt: Bill Hunt’s Crystal Ball Reading

Equally proud as on Motoko Hunt's presence I am on the presence of her husband Bill Hunt. He is one of the other columnists of the multinational columns on Searchengineland. In Berlin he had a very interesting talk into the future of search. I am therefore very much looking forward to his post in which he looks into his "Crystal Ball".

Bill is one of the smartest people in the business who has actually earned his stripes by making companies big and succesful. I would therefore suggest to read his 2010 predictions carefully, come watch him at SES and do good with it.

Bill Hunt’s Crystal Ball Reading for 2010

As many of you know I went into semi-retirement mode about six months ago that has given me plenty of time to think about and explore new things.  As I look into my crystal ball for 2010 there are a few things I am specifically interested in, passionate about and hope will take hold since they are the next generation of search marketing.

Better Understanding of the Voice of the Consumer
In traditional search marketing many simply take the words and phrases at face value and don’t try to understand the “why” of the query.  When this is done we often end up with campaigns based on searcher demand with messaging that does not match the wants and needs of a searcher.  Just take a look at the average bounce rates of most sites – they are around sixty percent and that is because they don’t synch with what the searcher wants but what the advertiser wants the searcher to experience.

Simple keyword segmentation is a good place to start.  It helps put keywords into a format you can use to better understand the “why” and “context” of the query.

As you can see from this chart, from my presentation from SES Berlin, keyword segmentation shows us what people are interested in related to the keywords they use when searching for “auto insurance.”


In this example, we see that 47% of the search volumes are phrases explicitly looking for quotes and 27% reflect the price sensitivity of searchers.  However, many insurance sites don’t make their quote engine a focus of the site nor do they highlight cost savings and value.  

By effectively listening to the “query language” [query volume and intent identification] of your marketplace and the actions they take on your site [clicks and path tracking] you can create a better engagement experience for searchers with the added bonus of uncovering new markets and product opportunities.

I have seen a number of cases where savvy marketers no longer allow their agencies to randomly build web content unless they have looked at keyword demand data.   It is only when we truly listen to the consumer and precisely offering relevant content at their time of interest or need will we ink the maximum opportunity of our digital marketing.

Focusing on increasing “SERP ShelfSpace”
I introduced this concept at SES San Jose in 2003 with a case study from one of my former B2B clients.  During the presentation I showed how we successfully leveraged the both the clients site and sites of their key channel partners to secure all of the top 10 positions thereby owning all of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ShelfSpace.”  This provided significant mindshare and consideration for their products while also reducing exposure to the products of their key competitors. 

As you can imagine, “ShelfSpace Optimization” never became a mainstream tactic since getting one listing is hard and getting multiple listings for a single topic is nearly impossible.  However, with the introduction of Google’s Universal Search and the growth of Social Media Marketing, this tactic has become a key element of the rally cry for many SEO’s turned Social Media Guru’s.

This complex blending of content by the engines and the volumes of content created via social media begs for some sort of comprehensive digital asset optimization and management process. The assets created (or leveraged) by Social Media, Public Relations and Search Marketing must be managed effectively to support the product or brand message behind them and well as ensuring they are found by repositories and present the right signals to ensure they are presented in the right context.

I am already seeing some very smart electronics marketers as well as travel companies starting to integrate and synchronize all of these digital assets so that they will not only dominate the ShelfSpace, but also ensure they have multiple points of intersection with searchers.

Search Marketing Data will become the nucleus of all marketing planning
I believe that search marketing, more specifically, the valuable data derived from its activities, will become the common hub that will bind marketing and advertising, both traditional and online into a coordinated set of activities to achieve maximum “Consumer Intersections” and "Digital ShelfSpace." In plain English – a paradigm shift will be built around a rapidly growing need to listen to, clearly understand and build content specifically based upon the “Voice of the Consumer” that can be derived from the rich data generated from search marketing programs.

Why can’t this valuable search program data also be leveraged for messaging strategies, geographical target identification, and even proxies for mass media reaction and awareness? It can and should.  The reason it is not is that we rarely share the data within anyone but the search teams – if traditional and other digital teams knew what was possible they would use this valuable lens into the mind of the consumer.

If marketers would put keyword research and interest modeling in the upfront research process and align with other research and focus groups I can only imagine the downstream impact and performance improvement that could be gained in all areas of marketing and advertising.   We as Search Marketers need to find ways to showcase our data to senior-level decision makers so that we can take our rightful seat at planning and strategy table.

Increased Global Search Marketing Opportunities
I passionately believe that 2010 will be a great year for global search marketing. While this is old news to the readers of Search Cowboys, the opportunities for companies to expand into new markets using search are better than ever and I am seeing increased interest from companies large and small to leverage this great opportunity for expanding their businesses.

In early November I spoke with twenty or so global search marketing managers from Fortune 100 companies and their top initiative for 2010 was to get a better handle on global search marketing.  They want to understand how to manage it, leverage it and get more out of it.  Many companies are finding search marketing (paid and organic) to be one of their best modes of entry and a great way to understand opportunities in local markets without huge advertising budgets.

Recent conversations with Trade Advisors from various governments all indicated there has been a significant increase in interest from small and medium companies on how to leverage search and the Internet to reach new markets.

Search Consultants, agencies and organizations like SEMPO need to take advantage of this great opportunity and offer services and information that will position them as a go to person/agency for companies looking to expand from or to their markets. 

So, these are my ideas and wishful hopes for 2010.  We can only hope that with the current tough economic times, maturing of the search marketplace, and the ever growing pressure from consumers that some of these ideas can be realized. 

About Bill Hunt:

"Bill Hunt is the President of Back Azimuth Consulting and works with clients to understand the voice of their consumer. Additionally, he is the Chief Marketing Officer of OC4 a start up Cloud Computing Consulting company.   I also try to keep up this blog, do public speaking, and the odd consulting project that does not conflict with my non-compete agreement.

He is the co-author of the best selling book “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.” Driving Traffic to Your Companies Web Site from IBM Press now in it’s 2nd Edition.  He also has monthly columns on global search marketing in Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch."

Bill can be found:

On Twitter
On his website
On Google

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