About a year ago, as Thanksgiving 2008 drew near, I wrote an article about a phenomenon that I dubbed the turducken disconnect. The full title was The Turducken Disconnect: An SEM Fable for the Holidays and the main point, hidden among some seasonal yarn spinning, was this:
If you are A. selling things online, and B. trying–through paid search or organic search–to get people to come to your site to buy those things, then we can reasonably assert C: someone who searches for one of those things and clicks on your link in search results should land on a page featuring the item they were seeking.
I went on to say–by way of example–that if you sell turducken and someone clicks on your paid search ad for turducken, your site should greet them with a turducken. It does not have to be a talking turducken. It doesn’t even need to be a specially-priced turducken (although that could be a good way to convert first-time visitors into first time buyers). The point is, your traffic from the search term “turducken” should be met with turducken, not sausages or fish stew, regardless of how mouth-watering those other items might be.
I came up with my name for this disconnect–surely one of the most persistent black holes for digital marketing dollars–during my adventures in pre-holiday shopping last year, looking for a product I had only just heard about: turducken (boneless turkey stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken/hen–seriously, if you think I’m making this up, just Google it).
A year later, a lot more people seem to have heard of this dish and I tip my hat to the online purveyors of this gastronomic extravaganza. Why? Because a recent non-scientific survey–conducted by me–shows that 100% of paid Google search results for turducken now lead to turducken. If only the same thing could be said for knitted gloves. Yes, you guessed it, my recent non-scientific survey of search results for this seasonal item revealed some disconnects, including one retailer who really should know better.
Notice how I keep using the word should in this post? That’s because search results should lead to items sought. It’s really not optional unless you are an over-funded brand that strives to appear whimsical. All other online businesses know they are paying good SEO or PPC money to get search results in front of consumers. But whatever you pay to achieve that search result you waste if you present visitors with a page that doesn’t have what they are looking for.
Please tell me if you think I’m wrong here, but I reckon the vast majority of consumers who search for products don’t spend more than a second or two digging around for the item if they don’t see it on your site the instant they get there. I would further assert that this holds true even if you are a super cool brand name. When I Google “knitted gloves” and click a link to “Knitted Gloves at Super Cool Brand” you cannot, however cool you are, assume that my real intent is to browse for shoes and hats at SuperCoolBrand dot com. (Okay, I guess you can make that assumption if you’re prepared to wager search dollars on it, but I think it’s a poor bet.)
So, as the holiday shopping season starts to heat up, why not take a moment to make sure your search campaigns–as well as your display and affiliate and email campaigns–are landing people in the right places, with messaging that matches the expectations those campaigns are setting. After all, when you get a match, it can be a beautiful thing (and sometimes a tasty one as well).
(In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own stock in any company that makes, grows, breeds, or sells turducken or its component creatures, but I do work for a company whose product automates the matching of site content to search results.)