Feature: The Search Pendulum

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Every day I vacillate between two worlds of search. In the first, the media declares obtuse headlines, such as "click fraud is a problem" and "search works." The pendulum then quickly swings to an alternate world where a few experts report on the most minute algorithm change with mind-numbing granularity. Neither is terribly helpful to the marketer.

Help, I am getting seasick -- as I try to exist on both ends of the spectrum.

There must be an in between place where the obvious and the cerebral come together to help real marketers with marketing challenges. Bonus points for a branded case study.

Last week I got lucky.

A friend recently revealed that some of her clients are struggling with the YouTube index. Yes, you heard that right. As Greg Sterling puts it, "YouTube is the Google of Video." Yesterday's HTML www.yourbrandsucks.com is today's 4.5 star-rated video, à la "Hummers Suck," replete with any number of tags determined by the audience. In this odd twist, the tagging and popularity functions of the site mean that it is the user who is constantly "optimizing" content.

The solution? Create and upload clever video content to be found, loved and tagged by all. A few brave brands also encourage consumers to create positive content via contests, such as the "The Office Make Your Own Promo Contest." 

Just a few days and many boring headlines later, I struck gold again with "Arby's Is Thinking Chicken" from fast-food trade journal QSR. The story follows the thinking and tactics used to raise awareness of the chain's naturally raised chicken products.

The answer? Search.

"When Chicken Naturals was announced, a Google-friendly Web site - ArbysChickenNaturals.com - was waiting to support the new product line," read the article. While it looks like the site is still working on its natural search ranking, it is a pleasure to read a real, public example of a brand that has put dollars behind search as part of a product launch.

I can now put the Dramamine away. At least for this week.

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