Companies today have a virtual smörgåsbord of options when it comes to marketing their products and services online. Lack of expertise, numerous tactical options, pressure for sales in a down economy and the tendency to chase shiny objects cause many online marketing efforts to be fragmented. I really doubt that a significant waste of effort and disconnect with customers is part of any company’s online marketing strategy. But it’s happening. A lot.
Marketers must prioritize what will work best and in the mix of online marketing tactics. According to eMarketer, SEO and PPC have been rated the most effective for conversions and ROI and while some companies are using software like PPC management tools to make things easier, there’s a lot more to consider for better segmentation.
With any type of marketing, relevance is essential for achieving a profitable program. When it comes to search marketing, understanding customers, the keyword searches they use and the offers they’re most likely to respond to are essential.
In order to move your online marketing from fragmented to prioritized and more relevant through search, here are 3 key concepts search marketers should master.
1. Understand searcher personas
It’s fundamental marketing to anticipate and understand customer needs.
To really make a difference with more targeted online marketing, search marketers need to become more sophisticated in their understanding of customer profiles and developing personas to represent who they’re trying to attract via search. Delivering generic content to a searcher looking for a specific product is a common mistake that creates a disconnect for search engines and customers.
“Searcher personas and search acquisition workflows are integral to the way I approach search strategy. Before you can start attracting visitors to your web site, you need to know who you are attracting and why.” Vanessa Fox
Knowing what kind of content and types of digital assets your customers will respond to can improve effectiveness at driving “organic” search traffic. The same goes for designing Pay Per Click ads and landing pages that are relevant to the needs of customers you really want to reach.
2. Develop an ideal keyword mix
Many companies start with a list of keywords they think are best for SEO and implement them with on-page optimization and link building. According to MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Search Marketing Benchmark Report (SEO Edition), 67% of small businesses place more value on on-page optimization over keyword research. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your ideas about keywords are more important than those of your customers.
Developing a keyword glossary is essential and starts by collecting a raw list of concepts, topics and phrases from sources like website content, interviews with front line employees and actual customers, competitor web sites and good old fashioned brainstorming. That raw list is brought into a keyword research tool that will output provide a list of actual search phrases plus variations sorted by popularity.
Understanding keywords from the perspective of the searcher and where they are in the buying process allows the search marketer to properly optimize content, landing pages and ads accordingly. Same goes for making the ads and landing pages more relevant because it leads to better performance with click through rates and conversions.
From an organic perspective, specifically optimized pages that have attracted relevant links from other related web sites will result in higher rankings for keywords that are being targeted. Customers will self-segment themselves with the search terms they use. By developing an ideal keyword mix that is focused on customer needs and the solutions offered by your products and services, your search marketing efforts will better target customers in a relevant way and increase sales.
3. Optimize content for specifics
Content can mean web pages, digital assets and any other documents that can be optimized for organic search. Optimization also applies to landing pages used with pay per click advertising to improve quality score. If you read Online Marketing Blog with any frequency, you know my mantra: “If it can be searched, it can be optimized.”
If you don’t have enough content to accommodate all the keywords you’re targeting, then you have an opportunity to create more content. A common misconception is that updated content is important, when the reality is that adding new content that reflects the search needs of customers is what’s important. The addition of every new web page means another potential entry point to your web site via a link or search.
Being focused helps search engines understand and rank pages so that customers get what they’re actually looking for. Delivering on the promise of a compelling search result is priceless for conversions.
Fragmented marketing with search helps no one. Marketers would do well for themselves and the customers they’re tying to reach by paying attention to the development of searcher personas, developing quality keyword research and optimizing specific pages and digital assets for specific phrases according the searcher needs in the buying cycle. As a result, you’ll deliver a more relevant experience for both search engines and customers.