Search continues to reign

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest… social media is taking over the world and websites and search engines are on the way out. To quote US rock band REM, it’s the end of the world as we know it!

Or is it?

There’s no shortage of social media marketing “experts” out there spruiking the demise of websites and the rise of social media as the go-to and only option for businesses seeking online promotion for their goods and services. In the website naysayers’ world, the likes of Goop Digital and its SEO websites team in Geelong shouldn’t make too many plans for the future.

Consider this statement from the start of the year by US technology company chief Rob LoCascio:  “In 2018, we will see the first major brand shut down its website. The brand will shift how it connects with consumers — to conversations, with a combination of bots and humans, through a messaging front end like SMS or Facebook.”

And then there’s this quote from digital marketing CEO Eric Siu: “The rush of the search engines to find their place in the world of social media says it better than anything else: the day of social media primacy is coming, if it’s not already here.”

So, we have LoCascio predicting the demise of websites and Siu telling us the dominance of social media is already here. LoCascio made his prediction earlier this year and Siu made his in… 2010!

Websites are standing firm

And what does this mean? It means that, like Harold Camping who predicted the world would end in 1994, then in 1995, then again in 2011, there are plenty of people making bold predictions that don’t come true or are a long way from ever coming true. Pessimists have been forecasting the end of websites for years but websites still stand firm and are here to stay until something better comes along. At the moment, that “something better” is not yet apparent, hidden somewhere over the technology horizon.

Before you pick up your phone to call and challenge me (remember those people who said mobile phones would never take off?) or sit down at the computer to fire off an indignant email (a scientist once said there was a world market for maybe five computers) I’m not for a moment claiming websites will never be a thing of the past. They might, one day, suffer the same fate as Morse code and the homing pigeon. But I will say that day is not yet on the horizon and websites and search will be the go-to option for a fair while to come. Websites and online search continue to dominate in people’s ongoing quest to obtain information.

Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe hard evidence, unless of course you’re also a climate change denier or anti-vaxxer. You can stop reading now if you belong to those camps because you guys just refuse to believe anything based on facts.

Eli Schwarz and SurveyMonkey, world-leading provider of online surveys, have completed a study to assess the popularity of website search and social media. SurveyMonkey’s taken real-life scenarios and asked almost 4000 survey participants how they’d get an answer to a question. For example, would people search websites online, use social media or call a family member or friend? Survey participants had to answer questions about everyday situations such as where they’d turn to find a new dentist.

And where did they turn? As you’d expect, asking family and friends was popular choice but 36 per cent also asked a search engine. Only five percent relied on social media.

Most turn to websites for answers

Overall, search ruled the survey results, with 97 percent of participants making at least one search every day. People aged between 18 and 34 made at least five searches a day. Survey-wide, 52 percent of people said they made all their searches on a mobile phone, although in the 18 to 34 group, 68 percent used only their phones for search.

To paraphrase the survey organisers, search continues to reign online and any business that thinks it can abandon its website for social media alone will do so at its own peril. Speculation about the demise of websites and online search is somewhat exaggerated and a little premature.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re not anti social media. Far from it! We firmly believe social media and websites should work together and no business should abandon one for the other. The two platforms have different uses and require different approaches but the end goal of both should be harmonious and synchronised ongoing online marketing.

If you’d like to know more about Search Engine Optimisation, websites and their prominence online, please contact the Geelong SEO websites gurus at Goop Digital. As always, we’re here to help.

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