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Insight/ Online Media

In Search Of A Solid SEO Keyword Strategy

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by Andrea Fishman
Principal, BGT Digital Experience Solutions
PwC

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Search marketing is an effective way of reaching users who are searching for specific terms associated with a brand. Both paid and organic search programs are centered on qualified keywords that are best known to convert. One of the most important things to remember is that most conversions directly tied to revenue occur after a user reaches your Web site.

Many companies wrap paid search into their behavioral targeting programs due to the ease of directing traffic to targeted landing pages built specifically for the goals of those campaigns. Needless to say, many large organizations get lost in a sea of customized landing pages or microsites that are completely separate from the main architecture of their Web sites, which are often left unoptimized and blocked from displaying in organic search. By having a dynamic UI on your main Web site, you are able to deliver the same personalized content that would appear on those microsites, regardless of whether visitors are arriving from paid or organic search, while gaining better insight into the conversion path of your consumers.

A few primary areas of alignment are critical to ensure effective connections between your SEO and behavioral marketing program.

Syncing SEO Keywords With User Segmentation
In the early phases of an SEO initiative, keyword research is conducted, pulling insight from your analytics and paid search campaigns, competitive research in the industry your products and services are categorized in, as well as that industry's "breakouts" and trends. These keywords are taken and applied throughout your Web site, optimizing the metadata, on-page copy, and navigation in a holistic attempt to drive users from search to the most relevant page on your Web site. We look at optimizing for unbranded general terms such as "cruises" that are a bit more broad, but have a higher search volume, as well as more specific long-tail terms, such as, "How do you choose which cruise line is right for me?" that drive less traffic, but have a higher conversion rate. Similarly, looking at branded keywords driving traffic to your site is a good indication into the segments you're targeting. Terms such as "Company Name Cruises" versus "Company Name Deals" are two very different groups of people. An effective keyword strategy takes into account the context of search terms such as these when optimizing on-site features of the Web site.

Simultaneously, when setting up a behavioral marketing program, you first have to identify the various segments of users that you are trying to reach. On top of the specific messaging you want to present them with and the calls-to-action that you would like them to take, you need to ensure that the page is displaying that content effectively enough to capture the user's attention. Both of these programs are based on delivering users to the most suitable page with relevant content that will lead them through to conversion. Your SEO keyword strategy should be tied closely to the user segments you are targeting on your Web site. The terms outlined above should be mapped directly to specific pieces of content and calls-to-action on your optimized landing page. Search can drive users to a page, but after that it is the Web site's job to drive conversions. By having a seamless experience from the search engines through to the landing page, you are reassuring users that your Web site is right for them.

Delivering A Message Catered To Users
Your Web site should be constructed in a way that allows individual pages to be optimized, whether it's your home page or top-level products or services, and that the page can be personalized to drive user engagement.

People are driven to search by a multitude of factors that are heavily influenced by their past experiences, many of which stem from being exposed to a brand message, conducting product comparisons, or even receiving a recommendation from a peer. From the most general keywords to more long-tail terms, we are able to identify what users are looking for and then the actions we know they will take. When all of this is synced closely to a retargeting program, we're able to serve users the most relevant information based on their last interaction--no matter through which channel we are reaching them. It's best to keep in mind that these individuals are in various stages of the buying cycle and are coming in with different states-of-mind. One static message may be relevant to users who saw your latest TV commercial, but it may be irrelevant to somebody who has been browsing through completely different products and services in the past.

The majority of your target consumers should be able to find the keywords that they searched for, as well as relevant content and messaging, based on the page they land on.

Through it all, if a user enters a Web site and is looking for specific information, he'll either find what he's looking for and dig a bit deeper or just drop off. We're always looking for ways to attract users to a Web site, increase on-site engagement once they're there, and then lead them down the path to a conversion. Search is just one portion of your overall behavioral targeting program, but keyword strategy is a component that should be incorporated into the messaging of all your online campaigns in order to influence users in each channel while maintaining a consistent message. Though you can't directly tie revenue to SEO initiatives, this is a way for companies to tie their SEO programs closer to the aspects of online marketing directly tied into sales.

About Andrea Fishman

Andrea Fishman (@andreafishman) is Principal, BGT Digital Experience Solutions, PwC. A 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business and graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman is a nationally recognized expert on interactive marketing.

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