Search engine optimization (SEO), a method used to increase Website page ranking on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, can provide purchasing managers much needed insight into demand for products and services.
While forecasting demand has never been easy, SEO increases the intelligence of the supply chain by monitoring specific keyword terms and the geographic location where searches are done.
Optimizing a company's Website for search engines increases the visibility for people searching on specific keywords related to products and services. Websites that rank high in query results contain the most relevant information and most useful content for a specific search term or phrase.
The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) estimates the SEM market will reach $16.6 billion in 2010, up 14 percent from the prior year. That's according to the 2010 State of the Market Survey based on input from 1,472 agencies and client-side marketers from 68 countries.
Companies on average expect to spend 43 percent more on SEO in 2010, compared with 2009. About 49 percent will reallocate budgets from print advertising to search engine marketing. Thirty-six percent will shift money from direct mail, and nearly a quarter will move budgets from conferences and display advertising, according to SEMPO.
SEO can help procurement managers track demand for products. For those not familiar with Google Insights for Search let me introduce you to the tool, using Intel as an example.
Google Insights for Search identifies the rising search terms related to Intel. It also tells us the geographic location where the most searches are done.
While procurement managers shouldn't rely solely on SEO to forecast demand, optimizing sites to rank on the first page of search queries can inform buyers on the relevance of content on their Website. If the content isn't compelling enough for Google to rank it on the first page of the keyword search query then maybe the company needs new content to describe the products.
If you're trying to help consumers find information on your company's Website to brand products or educate consumers, Google Insights also can help to find the best search terms to optimize the written copy on the site. Think about the audience you're trying to reach, and use the most important keyword terms first.
Covario, a San Diego-based search engine marketing firm, conducted a study on the likelihood of consumers to purchase a brand's product after visiting its Website, setting a specific dollar amount for each visit. It turns out that dollar amount provides insight on demand for the products and estimates on cost of goods sold (COGS).
A combination of keyword research, competitors' ranking status in queries, and understanding consumer buying habits can give purchasing agents insight into demand for their companies' products.
Companies selling or providing less-than-sexy components and services built into Apple's iPhone or iPad still need to communicate their message to consumers and understand the best way to reach them. Intel doesn't sell chips to consumers. The company doesn't need to participate in search marketing to get companies like Sony or Dell to build processors in their computers. They already do. But consumers may not know. And that comes down to branding.
Google can stand on its own as a brand, but consumers might like to know Intel will provide the Atom processor in Google TV expected to ship in time for the holidays. Maybe it's not only an opportunity to educate people about the processor and Google TV, but also to push the brand and the relationship.
Intel, sophisticated in search strategies, informs consumers of their options. Everyone knows Intel, but may not know all the products it offers. Consumers, however, don't go to retail stores and ask for microprocessors designed by small-to-mid-sized companies, so SEO works especially well for lesser known companies, too. Ranking well in search engines helps build awareness by educating consumers on how products work.
Suppy chain buyers need to work with marketers to build: