December 13 2008

Space Optimization - The New Marketing Frontier

Wikipedia defines search engine optimization (SEO) as the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.  SEO has been vital to online marketing since the beginning of the Internet.  Millions of consumers search the Internet every day.  Getting your website found for relevant consumer search terms is the single most powerful way to influence your target audience and to be viewed as an authority on that particular subject.  SEO has historically focused on consumer product search terms like ‘San Diego Real Estate’ or ‘New Homes San Diego’.  Consumer search terms like these are extremely competitive because as home builders, we all know that being found for those terms (our target audience) will lead to sales.
Until recently, we really never paid any mind to the Google search results for our company name.  Company name search results were never really competitive and being found for our company name was easy because we were the only ones that cared to be found for that name.
Social media has changed all that.  In the old days (3 years ago), publishing to the web was difficult.  You had to know HTML, how to use HTML editors, how to buy a domain name, how to point that domain name to a web server, and how to FTP your HTML to the web.  Confusing - I know.  Today publishing to the web is easy.  You don’t need to know HTML, using an HTML editor is as easy as using Microsoft Word, you don’t need to buy a domain name, and you don’t need to FTP anything.  
Most Internet publishers don’t get their own website, they simply post comments and opinions on either community groups or blogging sites.  These sites are typically free to use, have simple built in HTML editors and all you have to do is press save and your content is live on the web.  
Social media has made everyone a publisher!  Now anyone can talk publicly about whatever they want.  Guess what they are talking about?  YOU.  They are talking about your products and they are talking about your company.  Consequently a Google search that only returned your company website for a search for your company name, 3 years ago, is now returning results of conversations consumers are having about your company.
As consumers, we all want to be heard by the companies we buy from, especially if we are unsatisfied.  So if consumers don’t feel like the company is listening, they want to tell someone else.  How they hit those non-listening companies the hardest is by telling other consumers about their bad experience.  
Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing there is.  Consumers trust other consumers much more than they trust the companies themselves.  This is why reviews on sites like eBay and are so popular.
One of the revolutions social media has brought about is space optimization.  Space optimization is the next evolution of search engine optimization.  Where SEO is about being found IN ONE of the top ten results, space optimization is about being found IN ALL top ten results (or at least multiple spots).  The blog post, When Consumers Attack, is a prime example of why companies need to add space optimization to their online marketing agenda.  This is as vital as SEO itself.
Today we Google everything.  If we don’t know something, we Google it.  If we want to research a product, we Google it.  If we want to research a company, we Google it.  If a consumer Google’s your company, what will they find in addition to your company website (please say your company is found number one for your company name)?  Good stuff?  Bad stuff?  Anything?  Companies have to be concern about what is being displayed in that ‘top ten’ space.  Your company reputation is riding on those results.  If negative consumer stories are displayed in that space, that will affect your reputation.  If good consumer stories are displayed in that space, that will also affect your reputation - but in a good way.
Space optimization is the most powerful way to influence consumer perception when your company’s reputation is involved.  Space optimization is no joke.  Look again at When Consumers Attack.
Consumers are more sophisticated than they have ever been before. It only stands to reason that marketing will need to be more sophisticated than it has ever before.  Space optimization is one of marketing’s next levels of sophistication.  
Setting up a community website is the most effective way to both give consumers a place to talk as well as give the company a place to listen. Caution, if companies don’t give consumers a place to be heard, consumers will find their own places.  
Let’s not let sites like and be the only consumer comments in our company space.  Let’s give consumers a place to share their positive experiences as well.  This is space optimization.  Where search engine optimization is optimizing your company’s website on Google, space optimization is optimizing your company’s reputation on Google.  
Take action with your company’s reputation.  If you don’t others will do it for you and chances are it won’t be pretty.
Jim Adams - CEO
New Homes


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