When the 4Ps Motoring Team challenged me to undertake a review of some big brands for the Moto GP event the first thing that I realised was that just collecting the SERP sampling data was going to be an enormous pain thanks to the plethora of microsites and subdomains and showcase sites that seem to orbit all these big biking brands. So challenge one was finding the dratted things so I could work out which URLs to sample in the first place.
The brands we attempted to look at were Honda, Ducati and Yamaha, in various incarnations over their often very fragmented web presence. We followed the usual methodology of tracking a selection of relevant high volume query terms in our trusty SERP sampler, Stat, and then totting up the results to see which brand sites were showing up in the organic listings for terms related to Moto GP.
Honda noticeably lagged behind on visibility for the event for its main .com and .co.uk sites, but then it also has world.honda.com/MotoGP/ and www.hondaproracing.com/motogp/ competing against each other on a branded search. Perhaps sampling for those as well would give some kind of search footprint, but I have to ask what possible benefit Honda think they’re getting from competing with themselves for such a high profile event.
Unsurprisingly the specialist site for Yamaha, www.yamahamotogp.com, dominated the main brand site at www.yamaha-motor.eu for Moto GP terms. Can’t help but wonder how much the brand would potentially benefit from amalgamating those sites together, bringing theme and authority together at a single touchpoint for the Yamaha Motors brand, but at least the brand isn’t as actively fighting against itself as Honda.
Ducati arguably comes off best of the brands in this very non-exhaustive sample, keeping its racing content on the main www.ducati.com website although again competing with itself (not to mention skirting potential Google problems with duplication) on the not even top level domain geotargeted www.ducatiuk.com. Unfortunately “best” in this case isn’t really anything to shout about, but there’s at least some evidence of unified site thinking over at Ducati HQ.
There’s not much point going into the depths of particular markups and optimisation for each fragmented bit of web presence for these sites given their setup. I will say this, however: I loathe campaign sites. Microsites, subdomains, showcases, whatever the dickens kind of buzzword you want to call them. Why any brand would choose to so violently fragment its presence all over the web rather than having a single obvious and clear touchpoint continues to baffle me on an almost daily basis.
It’s poor for brand – how do users, let alone search engines – guess which site they should visit? It’s poor for search because it introduces duplication risks, self-competition and lack of authority unification. It’s even a pain for tracking, and having umpteen different campaign websites and subdomains and goodness knows what else is just plain confusing when you’re trying to draw up something like a cohesive marketing strategy or just keep track of all your web assets. Forget about getting meaningful engagement data and results out of it without some kind of supercomputer and/or divination ritual on hand.
So in the name of Moto GP I’m going to do something I don’t do very often – I’m going to put the SEO stick down and pick up the big boy in the motoring world, which is brand advocacy. The equity of brand, especially in a digital environment, is driven by user experience.
So what is a better experience for a user – having a single one-stop-shop for All Things Brand X online, or seeing a lot of different domains and subdomains scattered around in their search results and having to try and figure out which one they want to click on? What is better to inform brand marketing efforts – integrated data that can easily give you a user’s first touchpoint and how they engaged with and moved through your content, or just a bunch of traffic and bounce rate statistics for different domains and site ecosystems?
So bikers of the world, please stop self-competing – you have nothing to lose except the befuddlement of your audience and the value of your marketing data!
4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO, content and PR are evolving together to meet the demands of users and big brands, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and technology across all inbound channels.