Motoko Hunt | September 11, 2012
The biggest opportunity of search marketing comes from being able to match your content with the searcher when they ask for it. When a searcher is searching they are not thinking about paid search or organic, they are trying to find a solution and want the best result. Why don’t we as marketers think the same way?
Within each silo of paid, organic and site search, we try to match the right offer and content to the search’s query, but rarely do we manage it in a holistic manner. This creates a series of challenges that results in missed opportunities, frustrated searchers and redundant effort. The following are steps you can take to improve performance, and lead you to a more holistic approach to search.
Step 1: Reduce redundant effort
All too often I see all three disciplines doing keyword research to find out what are the most popular phrases. It only needs to be done once and shared across the teams. Each can add to the list and to any segmentation, which results in 100 percent coverage of your keyword portfolio. Even for the site search, this list is helpful but even more importantly, the list of onsite search words is very important to organic and paid search marketers since this is exactly what people want related to your business.
This can be improved by sharing keyword lists and desired landing pages between disciplines using extranet or keyword management software. This will reduce the workload of the total team and help understand the collaborative performance of all words.
Step 2: Increasing SERP Shelf Space
If we think of the search results page as a store shelf, the more of that space we occupy with compelling product packages the greater opportunities we have for sales. The same is true in Search Marketing. The more compelling ads and ranked pages you have the more opportunities for consideration you will have. Typically, these activities are all monitored separately we don’t know how they perform collaboratively.
This challenge can be improved by simply monitoring the search results page at a keyword level to understand if and how we are represented with via paid, organic and social media to make sure that we are not only represented but it is collaborative.
Step 3: Reducing competing messages
Not reviewing your SERP Shelf Space opens you up for another huge problem – competing messages. These can come from different business units as well as between paid and organic. Too often we have a niche offer for students, seniors or advanced users being seen by all searchers, which prompts them to click and be disappointed.
To prevent this simply follow steps 1 and 2 to model your words to make a decision of what you want people to see and do related to this phrase. If you can develop this matrix you can set the business objective, the search intent then craft the best page for organic and to set specific related offers and site links in paid. Just this simple discussion and prior planning can result in significant increases in click.
Step 4: Reducing contextual mix match
Many companies also take their product search performance for granted. Few companies even know what shows up in the different forms of search, when someone searches for a product name. Recently a large company told me they never buy their product names in paid search since they rank #1 for all of them. This can be a good strategy only if you know what is represented in organic search. In their case, most of the products did rank well in organic search, but a few had PDF’s or a less than compelling snippet needing paid to be utilized until they cleared it up.
This is critical in site search especially for technology and B2B companies. Often a site search for a product returns support and news content more so than product information. Site search engines are often not as sophisticated as external engines, and often can’t index complex or highly creative pages resulting in product home pages being absent from site search results.
I am aware of one case where a site’s navigation structure was overly complicated and 67 percent of the visitors to the home page went immediately into site search to find specific products. Unfortunately the majority of the results on the search results page were support documents resulting in an increase in negative customer satisfaction responses and site abandonment.
This could easily be solved by understanding the optimal content for key phrases and simply boosting the home page or preferred landing page of products in site search. Since this is your search engine you can influence the results and ensure the right mix of content for critical queries such as product searches.
Again, no need to recreate the master list, it should be the same or very similar to what you are doing for paid and organic.
Step 5: Create search councils to enable sharing and coordination
You can still manage the tactical separately but companies that truly excel holistic search marketing leverage a search council, where all disciplines are equally represented and encouraged to collaborate. During the council meetings they review keywords, strategies, shelf space, upcoming campaigns and product launches to ensure that they have done all they can to present the most effective and uniform face they can to their prospects.
This same process can be leveraged with other forms of marketing with representation from the search council to bring the opportunities of search into other marketing disciplines. I’ll talk more on that in a future article.