Social Search and Search Engines Have Different User Intent
A few weeks ago, SearchEngineWatch.com posted an article entitled “Intentional Targeting: Search vs Facebook.” Author Guillaume Bouchard explains that “Facebook and search offer very different value propositions.” He argues that search still delivers a better ROI, even though users typically spend significantly more time on social networking sites then they do using search engines.
Bourchard makes a good point in his article that is important for website owners to remember user intent when they are determining where to allocate their funds for online advertising and SEO. Search engines are keyword driven, meaning that when a user plugs in a search term, let’s say “Hawaiian vacations” for instance, they are actively interested in learning about (and perhaps looking to buy) Hawaiian vacations. This means that a more targeted and engaged visitor is getting directed to sites that deal with Hawaiian vacations. This is better for a website because there is a higher likelihood of conversion.
When a Facebook user clicks on a Facebook ad, they weren’t usually looking for that information. Instead, the ads were posted based on that specific user’s profile information; their “Likes,” favorite books and movies, even their relationship status all provide keywords/information for Facebook to better determine what kind of ads they are more likely to be interested in clicking.
The key difference is that Facebook ads can only assume what the user might be interested in, and has no real way of determining intent. A Google search means that the person is actively interested in finding that information. A user who recently updated their Facebook relationship status to “engaged” is more likely to have their page peppered with ads for wedding photographers and bridal boutiques than their single friend. But just because they are engaged doesn’t mean they’ve actually started looking into those things. Meanwhile, the recently engaged Google user who is aggressively sorting through pages of wedding decoration ideas is actively looking for an answer.
The bottom line is that someone who clicks through a Facebook ad about “Hawaiian vacations” doesn’t have the same intent as someone who types “Hawaiian vacations” into a search engine. This isn’t to say companies should ignore the possibility of creating a Facebook ad (in addition to their company profile and fan page), but only that they need to consider how much they want to invest in social search and whether it will pull away from their other SEO efforts.
Categorized in: Search Engines
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