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Searching to be sold to – I’m voting with my feet

Is it just me, or is this becoming the norm?

Like probably most of the connected population out there I’ve used Google lots and lots for searching a myriad of things in my work and home lives and until recently I found it generally an okay experience. I know that a good strategy is to use the right key words if you want a targeted approach and closely-matched results - hey I’m not stupid – but all I seem to get these days are ‘sponsored’ ads from Google, which often have little or nothing to do with what I’m searching for. Maybe the algorithms are wrong.

I don’t have time to wade through all the drivel and paid-for promises made by all the businesses that have been suckered into ‘sponsoring’ Google. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary a sponsorship is “when a company commits money or resources to a nonprofit event or program in exchange for specific promotional benefits. In exchange for supporting the nonprofit, the company gets their name and logo on things like banners”.

So, when exactly did Google’s business activity become a ‘nonprofit event’? Why can’t they be up front and just say ‘paid advertising’ like newspapers do? Would that change the way we view results?

Dig deeper for the good stuff

Instead of clicking on one of these often-compelling sponsored blurbs I tend to scroll deeper and deeper into the list of search results to find what I’m looking for. I’m probably alone in doing this and I’m guessing that this isn’t what Google intended when it started flogging the commercialisation of its search engines, though I understand that it needs to make money to stay in business, but really? Is this the best way to meet the needs of your audience? I personally feel exploited by them and their current process. Trouble is, there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to searching; unfortunately, Google has the market well and truly covered for now.

Don’t put up with rubbish

Speaking of voting with my feet, I recently deleted a ‘news’ ap from my phone as the latest ‘upgraded’ version had so many bugs in it, it kept freezing my phone’s screen and drove me crazy. It wasn’t emotionally hard to delete it, in fact one of my new year’s resolutions this year was to limit my visits to aps that were below par, both in content-quality and useability.

Sure, I want to keep up with news, both local and international, but I don’t need mindless drivel that’s poorly written, and I certainly can’t be bothered wading through opinion pieces written by people I don’t respect and certainly don’t agree with. Ads that I can’t opt out of or easily cancel, or the links to low-rent third-party sites with questionable content, are also hot buttons for me.

I’ve been aware for some time that many people don’t get their news from the traditional sources, relying on social media (which is often just gossip and hearsay) and on-line news sites, and that many people have long given up on watching TV or reading newspapers for current affairs updates. This has been confirmed by the closure of news rooms in the main stream media. There have also been surveys on how much we trust media to get unbiased news – I’m sure that must be a fairly recent thing. More can be found here and here.

Everything has a life cycle – relevancy is key

For many organisations, knowing whether (and when) to move on, close down, or maybe just upgrade, doesn’t come easy. Losing touch with your audience can be fatal from a marketing perspective – and this can also apply to websites that are no longer relevant, useful or easy to navigate.

When I started planning this blog, my intention was to write about latest trends for websites – it’s one of my ‘go-to’ topics in the first quarter of a new year. So, I started googling (as I usually do to get my up-to-date info) and that’s when my frustration started. All I came across were ads for competitors in my sector, none of which were inspiring, I might add.

Instead of latest website trends (of which there doesn’t seem to be many at the moment that aren’t about artificial intelligence) you are reading a blog about a couple of my pet peeves. However, there are some takeaways from this – don’t try to be too clever in what you offer, don’t deviate from your real purpose, be honest, trustworthy and reliable, and most of all, don’t lose touch with your audience.

While staying relevant is down to you and your organisation, we can help your website to stay up-to-date, be easy to navigate and deliver your key messages to your current and future audiences. Just ask us.

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