Finding The Limitations Of Search

The Limitations Of Search

Search is an effective way to address your audience. Customers who use search already have an established need, so we can assume they are in the middle part of your marketing funnel. These customers can give us valuable clues about what they are looking for, often expressed in keywords or brand words searches.  Search marketing does have its limitations however, which must be carefully navigated.  Here are five common limits with search.

1. Search volume

There are a finite number of key word searches.  Therefore, there is a limit on the size of the search market.  This could translate into higher costs in search impression, as more brands bid for these popular keywords.

2. Upper sales funnel

A search-only strategy cannot build interest, brand awareness or recognition of needs.   Search alone is not generally effective in building trust in a brand.

3. Some customer do not need search

Some customers do not need search to find their product. They may already have recognised or recalled a brand that fits their needs, which could be a strong competitor brand within your category.  These brands are more likely to have made the initial investment into building awareness or interest.

4. New challenger brands or new product

Consumers will not typically search for new brands or new products, as these are not in their common experience or realm of awareness.   Search alone is not an effective way to launch a new brand or product, as it relies on some form of previous engagement with a customer.

5. Generic words

Brands or product names with multiple meanings could be difficult to use in a search campaign.  For example in the auto industry, the keyword ‘Territory‘  (4WD/SUV from Ford) would be a poor option for the search terms as it would result in a high number of mismatches.   This may translate into wastage in impressions, as only part of this is in-market audience in your segment.   This in turn may translate into a lower ROI.


Search is one of the best ways to address the middle and lower tier of your sales funnel.  However, it is not effective in building a bigger audience.   A multi-channel marketing strategy is one of the best ways to grow your audience or expand your sales funnel.

If you are relying on search alone, you are forfeiting the upper sales funnel, especially to competitors who have a multi-channel marketing strategy.

Read our Case Study on how we effectively used a cross-channel strategy to drive awareness.