Where to find clues to understand a Web site visitor's intent. Second of two parts.
In my previous column, I wrote about winning tactics you can use (mainly post-click) to squeeze the most out of your marketing budget. I received interesting feedback. Most readers seem to think I was talking specifically about paid search. But the tactics apply to both sides, paid and organic.
Of course, you have more control over variables in paid search. But paying as much attention to analytics on the organic side provides dividends, too. At ad:tech New York recently, I spoke to an in-house search marketer with a small firm. She told me she "felt lucky" that some of her pages turned up in the SERPs (define) and was afraid to make changes to those pages in case they tanked.
About 100 Internet years ago if you changed some keywords around, you could see big changes -- either an increase or decline -- on the SERP. But given the amount of end-user data that search engines have, if the page is good quality (or "useful," as search engines tend to put it), it's likely that the user vote will keep your position on the SERP.
Update Your Listing's Description
I participate in a regular session with former Googler Vanessa Fox at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit. She's a true fountain of wisdom. She advises marketers to change their listings' descriptions.
Why? For certain navigational results, Google uses the description given by the DMOZ editor, most of which are god-awfully dull. A simple change to add a more compelling description can improve the CTR (define) phenomenally. Yes, something as simple as that can make a huge difference.
Geotarget Your Audience
When I worked in conventional offline marketing, I had permanent frustration with broadcast media because of the waste. For instance, if I wanted to advertise a coffee shop to the local community on local radio, I'd be hitting an audience within 50 miles radius. Who drives 50 miles for a cup of coffee, no matter how good it is? To get to the smaller group, I had to advertise to the larger group.
With geographic targeting in search marketing, I can get to the smaller group and conserve my budget by saving wasted clicks. Your Web analytics tool can easily identify your top five visiting countries, visiting states, visiting cities, and so on. By knowing where most of your visits/conversions are coming from, you can optimize your campaigns to those territories.
Aside from identifying the top five territories, determine those markets with the greatest movement in variance. Don't miss the trends for new and fastest-growing regions just because they're not in the top five.
Identify Your Most Valuable Customers
The eternal quality-over-quantity debate is a must when evaluating a future marketing strategy. You may impress your boss for a little while with big numbers. But numbers alone don't tell a story. What do 2 million visits and 12 million page views say about your site? You may find that 20 percent of the visitors are driving more than 80 percent of the conversions. Be sure to identify your most valuable customers and determine what attracts them.
Never give search the credit for everything. A couple big buzzwords in analytics are "attribution" and "engagement." Examples of engagement include viewed newsletter sign-up pages, viewed product pages, items added to a shopping cart, as well as the number of visitors looking at shipping pages, rich media ads, and other brand-awareness methods. It's not always about the last click. Visitors may have clicked through from an organic listing before they clicked your paid ad.
Once you begin to focus more effort on quality visitors, you'll discover that certain keywords and keyword phrases drive high conversions. Increase your bids for those keywords, and optimize your ad copy and landing pages to generate even more conversions.
Mine internal site search trends. If a small number of visitors use your site search (e.g., around 1 percent), you may have a page layout problem (e.g., the search box isn't easily accessible). Some search terms may seem totally unrelated to what you actually sell. But these are clues for cross-selling and up-selling. For example, if someone searches for balloons on a site that sells gift baskets, this is a definite sign that searchers desire balloons to decorate the baskets.
Be sure to look at all of the terms people enter into the search box. This really is free keyword research and a beautiful insight into the end user's language. And that's so valuable for both paid and organic search.
Remember, it's all about decoding the end user's intent.
Meet Mike at Search Engine Strategies Chicago December 8-12 at the Chicago Hilton. The only major search marketing conference and expo in the Midwest will be packed with 60-plus sessions, multiple keynotes and Orion Strategy sessions, exhibitors, networking events, and more.
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Mike Grehan is Publisher of Search Engine Watch and ClickZ and Producer of the SES international conference series. He is the current president of global trade association SEMPO, having been elected to the board of directors in 2010.
Formerly, Mike worked as a search marketing consultant with a number of international agencies, handling such global clients as SAP and Motorola. Recognized as a leading search marketing expert, Mike came online in 1995 and is author of numerous books and white papers on the subject. He is currently in the process of writing his new book "From Search To Social: Marketing To The Connected Consumer" to be published by Wiley in 2013.
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