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Leveraging Internal Search for SEO Success

  |  June 2, 2010   |  Comments

Your customers are trying to tell you something. Are you listening?

We marketers spend a lot of time trying to figure out what our customers want. Likewise, customers spend a lot of time trying to tell us what they want! The good news is that Web analytics tools can provide us with strong signals about our customers. Your internal search reporting is one great place to look. After all, when a visitor searches for something on your site, they’re asking you a question. How well are you answering? Here are a few ways to use internal search data to improve your bottom line and put smiles on more customers’ faces:

Ride the Zeitgeist

Internal search is a great place to find keywords to add to your PPC (define) keyword lists and site content. It’s also a sensitive barometer that can reveal changing ways that customers talk about your products and services. Don’t just look for keywords you’re not bidding on - look for keywords that a few months ago nobody was searching on. Maybe a competitor has a new ad campaign with a different name for a similar product to one of yours. Maybe somebody just made up a new word and it’s catching on. Either way, this is an easy (and interesting) way to find out what the kids are calling it nowadays.

No Results? There’s Gold in Fixing That!

Are you monitoring the keywords that are producing zero results? These represent critical failures of your website and/or internal search algorithms. Are there common misspellings that you could redirect? Maybe your content isn’t being indexed well. Maybe you need to create more content on a particular topic.

Get Me out of Here!

On many sites, the search box is the shortest distance between two points. Sometimes, it’s the only way between two points! By looking at which pages, and which types of pages, people are searching on, you can get a feeling for where your navigation isn’t getting people where they want to go. And remember: for every visitor that typed something into your search box, there’s probably another who typed it into their browser search bar and found another site instead. Try to monetize that loss to gain buy-in to fix this.

How Many Searches Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Another revealing trend is the number of searches a visitor has to enter before he finds what he wants. If someone enters four or five searches before he finds what he’s looking for, it may be time to look into a new search technology. Or it may be time you started creating content that uses your customers’ language instead of your own company jargon.

Before you can mine this wealth of data, you must capture it all. So take a look this week and ensure you’re capturing referring pages, zero result searches, and the number of searches a visitor makes. Your customers are trying to tell you somethingâï¿Â½Â¦are you listening?

Join me at SES Toronto June 9-11, 2010 to carry on this conversation!


Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

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