A New #1 Online for Video Surveillance

By John Honovich, Published Feb 27, 2013, 07:00pm EST (Info+)

Last year, many were shocked and alarmed that HomeDepot took the #1 spot online in Google's powerful search rankings for video surveillance. Now, a rival has taken the new spot. While HomeDepot did not drop far, this competitor made a big jump up the charts and is a significant threat to the long term future of video surveillance providers.

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Comments (14)

We sell onine and I have completely given up on the rat race of trying to be number 1 in Googles Organic Search results for certain keywords. Its so convoluted and ridiculous and changes all the time. I think I could spend less on google ads and appear #1 in paid search as opposed to paying an "SEO expert" to come in and attempt to get us high in the rankings of organic search.

Sean, thanks for the feedback. As for spending on ads, I am wondering how you evaluate the cost and return on them. Google ads for what I have seen tend to be quite expensive, even in a relatively less competitive surveillance market (i.e., compared to cars, drugs, pcs, etc.). I would expect each click to cost a few dollars. Can you share how analyze that spending? How do you know if there is a return? For every x clicks at y dollars each, do you see z additional sales?

I dont waste my time trying to compete with the big keywords such as "surveillance system" or "security cameras". Everyone and their dog is advertising with those words and can sometimes costs up to $4 per click or more. I usually do more niche based words, it results in less clicks but they are often a more valuable click. Google has tracking info to see what click results in a conversion "sale".

As surveillance has moved into the consumer space, I would expect the consumer-driven mega-portals to move the most product. This proven marketing model supports any commodity.

imo, if you are a true integrator this search-ranking news should not be that troubling since knowledge and skills, service and support, etc can not be sold on Amazon. :)

I think this new volume of searches is more a reflection of the emerging residential/small commercial demand for cheap (now more broadly available)equipment rather than a shift in buying practices by most mid-sized or larger surveillance and security end users.

The more Google emphasizes low cost ecommerce surveillance offerings, the more validation they get to buyers. Today, most buyers of surveillance are consumer level but certainly lots of mid market buyers are looking to Google and setting expectations based on what they find there ("But online I found this camera for X and this kit for y and you want to charge 10xy", etc.). Many integrators already complain about this.

The second risk is the tendency for such online offerings / practices to move up market. This is not unique to video surveillance but is a common occurence for bigger, more complex products to be sold online as ecommerce sites get more maturity and the products get optimized for DIY use.

Finally, the volume of searches is not new. There's been a large volume for a while. What's new is that Google used to send these searches to an array of low end, spammy websites that had little influence. Now, it is sending it to mega eretailers that many trust and buy regularly from.

Kudos to Google then... I'd rather have end users being serviced by known entities with established return policies (and possibly support?) instead of the low end, spammy websites... :)

And after reading this old IPVM piece on the Online Surveillance Market from 2 yrs ago, I've learned that selling products online is not a new practice in our industry. :)

However, the vast majority of this 'new' market being served by retail mega-portals is exactly the same market segment that our industry has historically ignored outright, as the channel structure is cost-prohibitive to those that lack the required cap ex.

As cheap stuff has become increasingly available, adoption has increased in this space. These folks have always wanted it - but it has been providers (manufacturers and integrators) in our own industry that have turned up their collective noses at them.

If all that is required of an end user's surveillance/security equipment is to run consistently and capture images, then commodity systems may do the trick and I predict tons of future sales for these folks. (note: based on my own past experience, these types of end users consume huge amounts of support time and costs, making even having these types of customers untenable to most security integrators).

However, the traditional target businesses that traditional security integrators service require more than that, and they willl continue to seek out integrators that provide value for their business operations that commodity box sellers simply can not.

i agree with you that the middle market will become the battleground... :)

Google "tailors" the results to the user. I get completely different reslts from my neighbor. Wikipedia is #1 on my box,

Morten, are you signed in to a google / gmail account? That could change your results. Also, if you are doing this from outside the US, your results may vary from mine.

That said, we did searches from a couple of US locations and got the same results with Amazon on top.

Update, I just searched google.dk and Google Denmark returned Wikipedia as #1.

Also, Google UK turns Wikipedia #1 and Amazon #2 and Google Canada returns a small Canadian e-retailer (aartech)

For some reason. Google has me labeled as being Norwegian. This means that I get an awful lot of spam mail with Norwegian content - Apparently I win travels from Oslo to some other place on a weekly basis.

I do have a google account (naturally), but apparently, logged in, or not, Google "personalizes" the results. From Google

"Signed-out personalization: When you're not signed in, Google personalizes your search experience based on past search information linked to your browser, using a cookie."

I searched "Video Surveillance Software" on google.dk, just to see what came up as #1.

Something called NCH software was googles best match. #2 is the famous "Contaware", while #3 is Felena Soft with the "Xeoma Video Surveillance Software will turn your home or office into secured fortress!"

I also searched in Danish, in that case, the top 5 links were to reviews or articles on video surveillance (which is probably fairly appropriate suggestions).

All 3 browsers I tried (IE, Chrome, Firefox) returned exactly the same top 5 results for 'video surveillance' (and I installed Firefox just to add it to the test; no prior browser history).

1. Amazon

2. Home Depot

3. videosurveillance.com

4. Cisco

5. Logitech

I was even at my local library this morning and tried the IE browser on that public machine: same top 5 returns.

It appears (at least in these unscientific experiments) that returns are more location based, rather than a reflection of browser cache. Now, advertisements on my web pages are clearly a different story. All my ads are for hotels, rental cars and surveillance equipment. :)

Home Depot/Amazon/Cisco top 3 here in Chicago

My ads are all about anti-acne treatments, but I do spend a lot of time on Anandtech.com, tomshardware.com and Slashdot.org.

I think it's fairly safe to say that an American who types in "Video Surveillance" on a whim will get Amazon as a top pick. I could make some snide remark about how Americans always search for something they can buy, rather than knowledge of a topic, but I won't (yet I did).

I do believe that the current high-end NVR manufacturers might be missing out on this market segment, and I am not sure any of them will be able to capture it (Avigilon being the exception). SAP tried to offer "entry level SAP" too, but I am not sure it was ever a success. Companies that cater to a particular segment seem to have a really hard time changing gears and catering to another.

I think it has to do with the DNA of the companies. As companies grow and thrive in one segment, the company will attract and keep employees who share a certain mind-set, while people with diverting ideas that might be great for a secondary, but immature, segment will move on to other companies. This can cause internal self-radicalization to occur; everyone in the company has roughly the same mindset, and they were previously successful with that mindset, so they start thinking "everyone in the world thinks like we do", and any alternate idea is simply stupid and bound for failure.

When the immature segment suddenly gains traction, it's too late to change direction. It will feel as if the employees are working against their better judgement, and they will feel as if they are being asked to do something that is clearly inferior. As an example, most NVR manufacturers seem to enjoy supporting MANY camera manufacturers. It might seem inferior to limit the supported cameras to just 3 or 4, so there will be internal friction to making these tough decisions.

Just some stray thoughts....

Never invest in an "SEO Expert" unless 2013 transforms into 2005. That is a thing of the past and it is very innefective today. What you should invest in is a "Growth Hacker" if you're a young company looking to grow. Don't be put off by the word hacker. Hacker is actaully a good term but unethical hackers hijack the word.

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