SEO and Your Brand

Our managing director, Marcus, picked a great MarketingProfs article by Wil Reynolds citing on many ways big brands fail to capitalize their popularity when doing online marketing. I couldn’t agree more with his points.

Maybe due to over reliance on inept agencies that run their online marketing strategies or spending too much time and money on traditional advertising that propelled them to where they are now, certain brands may have missed countless opportunities search engine marketing is presenting them. If done efficiently, these brands could have improved their monetary returns and give them more resources to explore and develop new things. Look at Google, Apple, Christian Dior and eBay, these are companies that have been recently named as the most efficient innovators which needed the least amount of research and development to turn into products and services, according to consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

While money does not buy effective innovation, success of a brand relies on effective management of all aspects in a business model.

For search engine marketing, the items enumerated in the article does not only apply on startups and small businesses. They are huge minefields waiting to be uncovered. And as what Mr Reynolds stated in his case study, let me continue the bashing of Nike by running a parallel investigation based on points he raised.

  • Missing on long tail terms. With 1.183 million searches in Keyword Discovery Tool for nike, consumers are almost associating the brand with the name of the item itself. When I was a kid, I often felt embarrassed when I tell a saleslady i need a Colgate (instead of toothpaste) called Pepsondent. As Nike is producing a multitude of sports products, its not too difficult to corner the market of these items online if Nike is only careful enough to consider these “little things”. The term “long-tail” is called such because it is composed of the less used and oft-neglected group of search terms which theoretically has higher conversion rate because of its specific nature.

    As Nike enjoys popularity with ultracompetitive keywords, competing sites of its reseller partners are taking advantage of these less competitive ones, so numerous that combining them could rival the total number of top ten most popular search terms. In phrases containing Nike in it, Nike does not rank on the first page.

  • All Flash web sites. We’ve seen a lot of Nike promotional web sites flourish like “the movie” web sites. Nike Basketball and Nike Women are a few examples. Look at these sites, all Flash, no HTML. All humans, no search engines. And just when we think that Nike is not interested in placing a link to its ads in its web site, we find some Nike ads appearing on sponsored listings for certain Nike-centric ads. Nike seems to support more of pay per click advertising when delivering traffic more than the sustainable organic search results.

    Giving up free clicks in favor of the click fraud tarnished contextual ads is a question only Nike can answer.

  • No meta description tags. Maybe they manage a lot of pages that they are too busy to care for the need to place little description on meta description tag. These tags are often touted as no longer a significant influencer in search results. But its primary use of providing a description of a page as it appears on search results is a very big influencer to online searchers whether they should visit the site or not. Without the meta description, search engines will pick the text on the content body. Alas, there is no content on the body as the whole site was fashionably done in Flash!
  • No defined landing pages. OK, the whole pay per click alternative was a bad choice in the first place because organic search can provide a whole lot of traffic without having to pay for dollars just to let someone visit any Nike site. But doing the pay per click without clear objective is equally maddening.

    Why did you create an Adwords ad for a certain search term as particular as nike training shoes if you can’t point that visitor to the specific training shoes page? Instead he is led to the Flash-flavored homepage and starts to search for that item again. If he finds it, lucky him. If not, Nike just wasted another marketing dollar (or dollars) for that click.

    Well the reason could be that with Flash pages, it becomes impossible to specify a products page in a pay per click setup.

  • Low quality landing pages. Just when you think the highest bidder wins the ranking war for Google Adwords, then consider the tale a history. Google recently revised its sponsored list ranking system. A specific search will trigger Google to locate the most relevant ad based on search query and quality of landing pages. Although I do not mean Nike has awfully poor pages in terms of content and relevance, its the missing text content that hurts its prominent placement for pay per click ads.
  • Flash shopping cart.Once I learned that we are building a Flash-based e-commerce site in The Luxury Gifts Company, I felt disappointed at the time because I knew that this one will never get any love from Froogle or any price comparison web site because its content is hard to extract. It may have won an award at WebAward, but the real objective of the site was never achieved. Same case for Nike, whose site remains to be a promotional tool rather than a transactional one. Good thing it has many other sellers who act on their behalf, so coffers for online sales aren’t actually empty at the end of the day.
  • Wrongly targeted ads. Having ads that don’t relate to a specific search does not only result a waste of click dollars, it also drives the searcher mad for being misled into clicking ads that were thought to show them what they are looking for. A lose-lose situation.

With these mishaps committed by the big brands, online landscape has become a level playing field for small potatoes and big names.