Companies often fail at a key component of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - what to do once the strong search results produce a flood of visitors to your site. This two-part series will explore six steps to ensure success in search marketing efforts and make the most of the influx of site traffic.
Step 1 - Identify the User
Once a visitor is on your site, there is a small window of opportunity to gain as much information as possible. The following steps will help to identify your users:
1. Analyze your Web logs. Research where your search engine users are coming from and keep track of common phrases that brought them to you.
2. Demonstrate search phrase reinforcement. As you begin to see patterns or trends, use them as a guide to map keyword-rich content to specific pages, thus improving relevance and increasing length of visits. Users are bombarded with your brand and product/service offerings only while you have them captive.
3. Demographic research. Build profiles of visitors and prioritize them so you know who to target. Avoid ignoring certain audiences, such as existing customers, partners, media, investors, analysts, and prospects.
Step 2 - Lure the User
Provide the information visitors want to receive. With an easy-to-navigate method, you create a first impression that establishes credibility for your Web site and its content. In order to do so, it is important to follow these key tactics:
1. Create a brand. Your site is defined by the look and feel, not the actual content. Be sure your brand speaks for itself; do not try to become everything for everyone. One good qualified lead is better than five bad ones.
2. Improve the relevance for targeted search phrases. Be cautious, if you have the content, users will travel for it. However, if you make promises you can't keep, you are likely to lose them for good. If it feels like you are "keyword spiking" your current content, you should organize a content strategy, including cross-linking opportunities, improved keyword density, consistent voice, calls to action, and common sense!
Step 3 - Demonstrate to the User Chances are users will be unfamiliar with the site, especially if they are coming from a search engine link. A search engine can dump a user in any section of your site so it is important to ensure there is always a noticeable link to your site map, home page, etc. Employ the following strategies on each page so users can navigate the site easily, regardless of where they land:
1. Make it clear. Tell the visitor what the site is and what information they should expect to find.
2. Make it usable. Your search engine visitors are there because your site came up at the top of the search engine list. When they click on that link to your Web site, you need to identify the content they are looking for immediately.
3. Provide valuable content. Your content attracted the user to the Web site and it should be what keeps them there. Don't fill it with keywords just to be ranked high in the search engines. If visitors cannot easily find the content that directed them to your site, they will quickly leave.
4. Define functional and practical navigation. Once a user has read the specific content they are looking for, provide a clear and consistent navigation enabling them to move quickly and efficiently throughout the rest of your content.
By following these key steps, you are well on your way to taking full advantage of the increase in your site traffic from your SEM efforts and, ultimately, increase ROI and profits. Next month, we will explore the final three steps to complete the full-circle approach to ensuring success in your search engine efforts.