When I first moved to Nashville in February of 2003, I was in pursuit of a dream: I wanted to develop my songwriting and write hits. It did not escape my notice that the industry was changing, even then, and that the distribution models that had ensured songwriter royalties were being disrupted, so that I might not have the opportunity to make money at it for very long.
However, I also came here with a background in e-commerce and software project management, as well as skills in various aspects of the Web, both broad and deep. I knew that would be my stable source of income, but I didn’t realize it would become more of a passion for me than songwriting, and that I would eventually start a company to further the web capabilities around me. Yet here we are.
So it still comes as a bit of a surprise when I find that my long-held passions for music and for online user experiences come together in a new way. Yesterday that happened when the news broke around Google’s forthcoming music service. I received a call from a friend at The Tennessean asking for input, and the more I got to thinking about it, the more interesting the Google story seemed to me.
Her article appears in this morning’s paper, and I’m quoted at the end of the piece:
Kate O’Neill, founder and CEO of Nashville-based [meta]marketer, said it’s another reason for users to stay on Google and not leave it for other sites.
“What Google is smartly capitalizing on is this desire for global access that people have,” she said. “That’s what users really want: continuous access to whatever they want, whenever they want it.”
What I think is even more interesting, from the standpoint of a meta-marketer, is the way this further positions Google as the champion of user experience. Structured semantic search results are going to continue to emerge, and they will put relevant answers in the path of the searcher, not just options for a possible destination.
If your business has historically provided stock quotes, then you already experienced this when Google (and other engines) put stock quotes at the top of search results for a ticker symbol.
If you’re a music content provider, you’re about to experience this.
If your business hasn’t been affected yet, it probably will soon.
It’s important to know what your strategy is for providing a relevant experience beyond the search results page. What value does your site add after the searcher’s questions are answered? What experience can you provide that Google can’t or won’t replicate?
Content has very often been said to be king, but the truth is experience is king. Content is only part of the overall experience, and only part of a typical site’s value proposition. It’s an important part, to be sure, and in the landscape of structured semantic search results pages, deeper, richer content will probably win. But it’s going to take planning and careful consideration of the overall user experience and of measurable success factors to be sure you’re keeping up.