Are marketing strategies too reliant on Google?

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Google went down, globally, on 14th December 2020 and immediately the marketing world went into panic stations. Nobody could access their documents (G Suite went down), their marketing platforms (Google Ads and YouTube went down), their conference calls or email (Gmail and Hangouts went down), or their reporting dashboards (Google Analytics, Google Search Console and DataStudio went down).

While the downtime was short-lived, it did pose the question of whether we have become too reliant on Google as the force behind our activity. So here, the team look at some of the other platforms you can incorporate into your marketing activity in the unlikely, but not impossible, event this happens again to start diversifying your approaches and covering your bases.

SEO: A world beyond Google

Google is the most dominant search engine, there’s no doubt about it, but other search engines have their own benefits. In the UK, Bing is the next-closest search engine to Google when it comes to usage, followed by Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Ecosia as the other key players in the space.

When it comes to Bing, a lot of similarities can be seen in the overall Search experience when compared to Google, including the layout and additional organic features to incorporate into strategies.

Whenever we work with clients with a physical presence, either as an office headquarters or a chain of retail stores, we recommend they also set up listings on Bing Places – Bing’s answer to Google My Business – to take advantage of the features available there as well. Yahoo also offers a similar platform in Localworks or you can submit listings through Yext.

Bing is largely underrepresented in digital strategies because of the dominance of Google, but there are definitely features to take advantage of as part of your SEO campaigns and while the ranking algorithms are different there is a lot of crossover in terms of general usability and relevance to the search query – if it works for Google, it’ll likely work for Bing (and other major search engines in the UK) as well!

Determine which search engines are driving traffic and conversions on your site and make sure you’re looking into new features and opportunities across them to tie into your overall approaches.

Ben Wheatley, Senior SEO Account Manager

Paid Media: Social reigns supreme

Similar to SEO, Microsoft Ads (aka Bing) allows for an additional layer to Search activity and brings with it some great opportunities. For Search, a lot of it comes down to who your audience demographic is – if your audience is older then Bing is a fantastic platform to reach them on as they tend to favour it over Google.

For the budget-conscious, Microsoft Ads also tends to provide cheaper CPAs so if you’re struggling for budget diversification this is a great option to explore. Search engines such as Yahoo and Ecosia are also partners of Microsoft Ads so you get the additional reach of those platforms as well. And if that isn’t enough, they also offer action buttons, which place a CTA button directly in your ad listing when triggered to further encourage a click through – something that Google doesn’t offer.

If you’ve got the budget available, absolutely syphon off a small portion of that to Microsoft Ads. The user base is lower than Google, but at cheaper CPAs, additional partners, and additional features in the ads themselves there is some great opportunity to improve performance.

James Rigby, Head of Biddable Media

If you don’t want to put all of your budget into Search, then Paid Social is where you can really shine. YouTube is the only platform that was affected by the downtime, and, while other platforms of course are not immune to downtime, spreading your budget across different ones limits the potential impact of an outage.

The trick is knowing where your audience is and making sure you are reaching them in formats that resonate with them. If that is video, then you’ve got some great options in Vimeo, Facebook Watch and IGTV depending on what your objectives are. If you’re looking for more B2B videos then LinkedIn videos could also be worth exploring, whereas for more B2C videos you can also explore platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, or Twitter’s new “Fleets”.

Explore additional features in the social platforms you use – these are evolving all the time and are a great way to increase exposure and connect with your audiences through the formats they are using.

Ruth O’Brien, Paid Social Strategist

Reporting: Not just a pretty dashboard

When it comes to reporting, the marketing world has been quick to adopt Google DataStudio as the go-to dashboard provider. And while it does have a huge number of integrations available, it is still Google-provided. Other platforms like Tableau can also be used to create dashboards, and most CMS’ have their own dashboards for performance which you should be looking at frequently as well.

When it comes to reporting suites outside of Google, there are some fantastic alternative platforms available – a lot of it just comes down to what you want to be reporting on and how. For example, if you’re looking for website health reports then, again, Bing Webmaster Tools is a great place to start, whereas if you’re looking for more sophisticated reporting then platforms like Adobe Analytics are a great alternative.

Generally, everyone reports on the same type of metrics – health, performance, opportunities – so when it comes to how you report on them a lot of people will deploy the same methods. Looking outside the box at different platforms and different reporting types can uncover new opportunities to apply to your strategies, so you should never be relying solely on the data that one provider can offer.

Diversify your reporting stack and tap into your back-end data wherever possible. The true application of reporting comes from the insights you can derive from it so if you’re just taking that from one place, you’re only ever seeing a part of the picture.

George Watson, Data Analyst

Four ways to diversify your marketing activity

  1. SEO: Look into where your traffic is coming from and start exploring additional features outside of Google. Bing has a host of additional options to start building into your strategies.
  2. Paid Search: Expand your reach through Microsoft Ads, they partner with different search engines and generally see a cheaper CPA than Google making it a must for diversifying campaigns.
  3. Paid Social: Explore native video options from different platforms. Video isn’t going anywhere and while YouTube may be the go-to, social platforms are constantly expanding their targeting and creation options.
  4. Data: Set up reports across various platforms to draw different insights from different tools before tying it all into one overall insight. A strategy, and its execution, is only ever as good as the data that fuels it.

Looking for ways you can improve or diversify your own marketing strategies? Get in touch today and see how our specialists can support you.