It's not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated; with keyword research you can predict shifts in demand, respond to changing market conditions, and produce the products, services, and content that web searchers are actively seeking. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually any niche.
But what kind of information should you gather for your own buyer persona(s) to inform your digital marketing strategy? That depends on your businesses, and is likely to vary depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C, or whether your product is high cost or low cost. Here are some starting points, but you’ll want to fine-tune them, depending on your particular business.
While working at a Fortune 100 company for nine years before moving to lead my current team, I became fascinated by customer behavior. What kinds of digital offerings most deeply engage customers in their digital lives? I started by looking at some case studies of the products, services, communications and experiences that had been embraced and adopted by customers during the first two decades of the internet. Over a period of seven years working on inbound marketing campaigns, what I found was a recurring pattern of three behaviors that drove the adoption of new digital experiences, which I call the three core behaviors of a network:
"The other guy is doing it" seems like a terrible rationale, except that showing off the shares and attention a competitor is getting for their content can really help prove your point with someone who still doesn't see the value in content marketing. Just be ready for what sometimes comes next - "Do exactly what they're doing" - which is not the way to win at content marketing.
At the heart of digital marketing is your owned media, which pretty much always takes the form of content. Every message your brand broadcasts can generally be classified as content, whether it’s your ‘About Us’ page, your product descriptions, blog posts, ebooks, infographics, or social media posts. Content helps convert your website visitors into leads and customers, and helps to raise your brand’s profile online -- and when it's optimized, it can also boost any efforts you have around search/organic traffic. Whatever your goal, you’re going to need to use owned content to form your digital marketing strategy.
Laura,Great post. This touches something I wish more SEOs practiced: conversion optimization. I think most SEOs think of what they do as a service for, instead of a partnership with clients. The end result should never be raw traffic, but value obtained through targeted, CONVERTING traffic.You make excellent points about market research, product input, content creation, and other functions many SEOs and SEMs neglect.More and more SEO providers focus only on assembly line basics and worn out techniques instead of challenging themsleves to learn product marketing, usability, and conversion optimization.Your advice on market research is extremely valuable.Great start to a promising series. I look forward to more!
7. Keyword research. Specific target keywords aren’t as important for SEO success as they used to be, now that Google search is fueled by semantic and contextual understanding, but you should still be able to identify both head keyword (short, high-volume keywords) and long-tail keyword (longer, conversational, low-volume keywords) targets to guide the direction of your campaign.
An influencer is someone who people listen to online. When it comes to search engine optimization, having an influencer in your corner will mean more people link to your website, share your blog posts and trust your content. If possible, have an influencer who is a subject-matter expert head up the content creation on your website. This person can be you, someone from your company or someone you align with.
It’s rare to come across new SEO tips worth trying. And this post has tons of them. I know that’s true BECAUSE…I actually read it all the way to the end and downloaded the PDF. What makes these great is that so many are a multiple step little strategy, not just the one-off things to do that clients often stumble across and ask if they are truly good for SEO. But there are also some nice one-off tips that I can easily start using without ramping up a new project.
SEO today is in many ways still a focused and specific discipline requiring experience and expertise. However, it has become much more dependent on, and integrated with, other digital marketing channels which is a good thing allowing for the scaling of content and resources. As most marketing is now digital, SEO has a proper seat at the table and place as a lead organic traffic driver contributing to end business goals.
For example, let’s say I have a health site. I have several types of articles on health, drug information, and information on types of diseases and conditions. My angle on the site is that I’m targeting seniors. If I find out seniors are primarily interested in information on prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, then I know that I want to provide information specifically on those things. This allows me to hone in on that market’s needs and de-prioritize or bypass other content.
Connecting the dots between marketing and sales is hugely important -- according to Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate, compared to a 4% decline in revenue for companies with poor alignment. If you can improve your customer's' journey through the buying cycle by using digital technologies, then it's likely to reflect positively on your business's bottom line.
You may not want certain pages of your site crawled because they might not be useful to users if found in a search engine's search results. If you do want to prevent search engines from crawling your pages, Google Search Console has a friendly robots.txt generator to help you create this file. Note that if your site uses subdomains and you wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particular subdomain, you'll have to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain. For more information on robots.txt, we suggest this Webmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files13.
Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven"t researched this. Perhaps, more importantly, you won't understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions, and options for marketing communications. There are great tools available from the main digital platforms where we can find out the level of customer demand, we recommend doing a search gap analysis using Google's Keyword planner to see how you are tapping into the intent of searchers to attract them to your site, or see how many people interested in products or services or sector you could reach through Facebook IQ.
Analysis is the key to SEO – Monitoring your ranking on search engines is key to getting better results. Start by tracking the most important website metrics to set a baseline for your performance. Make small content changes and see if you notice a boost in your site traffic or rankings. Avoid making several unrelated changes simultaneously so you can always keep track of what was responsible for improved performance.
Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn't exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page30 that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user's experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. You can use Google Search Console to find the sources of URLs causing "not found" errors31.
Another illicit practice is to place "doorway" pages loaded with keywords on the client's site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO's other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.
#16 is interesting because no one really knows about it. Myself and a former colleagu did a test on it about 4 years ago and published our results which conculded what you are saying. Since then I’ve been careful to follow this rule. The only issue is that often times using the exact kw does not “work” for navigation anchor texts. But with a little CSS trickery one can get the code for the nav bar to be lower in the code, prioritizing contextual links. I’ve also seen sites add links to 3-5 specific and important internal pages with keyword rich anchor texts, at the very top of the page in order to get those important internal links to be indexed first.
This is beyond website content, but good user experience is becoming more and more important in strong SEO rankings. According to Robert Berris in his blog Three UX Principles That Help Your Website Do Its Job Right, “During the last two years, Google has evolved to place much higher emphasis on sites that deliver quality user experiences across platforms and devices. Though traditional ranking factors are still king, search engine optimization is increasingly becoming user optimization.” So, work with your web developers to be sure that your website is easy and intuitive to navigate and that each link works and takes your visitors to the next bit of information they’re looking for.
Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.
Digital marketing is defined by the use of numerous digital tactics and channels to connect with customers where they spend much of their time: online. From the website itself to a business's online branding assets -- digital advertising, email marketing, online brochures, and beyond -- there's a spectrum of tactics that fall under the umbrella of "digital marketing."