In one of my earlier posts about findability I used a search on nike shoes as an example of how even the best companies don’t fully understand search tactics. My point was that people are searching for products or services; not companies. Consumers will only take the time to find out about companies after they have found a product or service that meets their needs. Nike’s more sophisticated affiliates and distributors understand this and have their entire sites open so that users need only use Google to find exactly what they are looking for.
I had a conversation with my business partner, Steve Chitwood and he made the point that Nike didn’t need SEO and that they wanted to have their users land on the home page so that they could up-sell them on the other Nike items. This may be true, however as a user, I expect that when I search for something it takes me directly to it; not to another search function so that I can find it. If we for a moment entertain the thought that people are buying products and services, not companies (as crazy as that sounds) AND that eventually every site will be porous enough through search engine optimization that people can find exactly what they are looking for in the least amount of steps, then what does a home page do?
This can be thought of as the beginning of what people in the industry refer to as Web 3.0. Which for those of you in the know is essentially the internet as one big relational database (like Google’s product Google Base). For those of you not in the know the metaphorical implications would be that if you were going to the grocery to to buy the ingredients needed to cook a Cajun dinner; all the ingredients you needed would be in one location of the store. This structure has also been referred to as the semantic web.
Now, the discussion about whether or not this is the future of the web is a lengthy one and not the intention of this post. The intention of this post is to help marketers understand that with your site optimized for search engines, every page becomes a home page. Brand equity must be built on every single page and not just the home page. Current thinking has the majority of branding done on the home page (at the top) and as you scan downward/get deeper (on the page/into the site) a user comes into contact with more information and less marketing/branding. Many of the internal pages of site focus on informative content and hopefully a call to action. In the near future it may turn out that web sites become a series of microsites or a series of “home pages”; each branding and marketing that specific product/service. These microsites would be connected and “have knowledge” of the other site and how that offering fits into the overall product/service line. (This is the promise of Service Oriented Architecture and more importantly, how the Cajun meal comes together.)
As more and more businesses realize the internet is the platform, it will be interesting to see if this methodology is utilized and business can partner real time based on searches preformed by potential customers to create compelling offerings.