ADOTAS – The organic search space has evolved dramatically in the past decade, as has the search engines results page (SERP) and the tactics required to achieve success in organic search. Even with this rapid evolution, we at RMI have been able to identify principles that have remained true over the years and have consistently led to successful organic campaigns.
- Apply a direct response methodology to organic search;
- Go granular in keyword-level data analysis; and
- Strive for quality, not quantity.
Companies that are driving large-scale revenue lifts through organic search have shifted their approach and mindset. They’ve begun to build strategies and analyze their organic program in a similar way to how one would look at paid search – applying a direct response methodology.
RMI’s SEO Tactics Chart unveils many of the tactics we’ve executed as a result of this way of thinking. Combining the tactics within this chart with the principles laid out in this article will get you one step closer to success within your own organic search program.
1. Mine data to drive keyword selection
Begin by analyzing keyword-level conversion data when formulating your SEO strategy. Study your top paid search converters. In most cases, their organic counterparts will not convert as high in comparison but remember that keywords with a higher likelihood to convert will often times match up pretty well, on a relative scale.
Pair this data with traffic potential and you’re moving in the right direction. Then bring margin into the mix and give more weight to high margin-driving keywords. When compounding these metrics, you begin to create the roadmap for a very powerful program.
2. Measure incremental non-brand lift
One of the biggest mistakes we see when presented with organic performance data is taking credit for revenue and traffic lifts that did indeed occur, but not as a result of organic efforts. For starters, clearly break out brand and non brand data. If you say that you experienced a 45% month-over-month lift in organic traffic, ask yourself where it came from.
Was the majority of that lift the result of brand increasing due to an aggressive display campaign? These are important questions to ask. Consider seasonality as well. If revenue from non brand keywords in aggregate decreased 18% month-over-month, was it the result of your rankings taking a hit, or is search query volume down that month for those terms? Google Insights for Search can help you answer that question.
3. Stop obsessing over rankings
Would you ever analyze your paid search program by saying “let’s start off by looking at our Average Position report?” Absurd.
A keyword rankings report is one of the last things you should look at when evaluating the performance of your organic efforts. Remember that the SERP is fluid and dynamic in nature. It’s personalized to your behaviors and location. Between personalization of the SERP itself, and the fact that rankings are subject to a high degree of volatility, it’s a mistake to put too much emphasis on a particular ranking for a particular keyword at any particular moment in time.
A rankings report is never going to capture the real story of your program because it is usually only a sample of keywords that your site is ranking for. There could be hundreds or thousands of keywords that are driving traffic and conversions to your site that aren’t even being tracked in a rankings report.
4. Use direct response tactics in titles and descriptions
Persuasive, direct response focused copy seems to be forgotten when it comes to most organic search programs. Incorporate attributes like this into your titles and descriptions and you’ll have a good chance to garner the click even if you’re showing in a lower position than your competitors:
- Percentage off
- Price point
- Free shipping
- 100% guarantee
- Order now
5. Predetermine your landing pages
Remembering that you are focused on conversions and not rankings, it’s time to map out exactly which page you want a user to land on when they conduct a search and click your listing. Pair up keywords and landing pages from the get-go. The home page is usually not the page you want a user to land on, especially on a non branded search. Get the searcher away from the home page and to the most relevant sub category or product page when appropriate and you’ll feel the uptick in conversions.
There are a lot of ways to migrate home page rankings to a deeper and more relevant page within your site. It comes down to your internal linking strategy and offsite efforts. Create a mapping guide, and stick to it. A very short-term dip may occur, but because your conversion rate will increase by ranking the deeper page it always pays to pull the trigger and execute this strategy.
Organic search is a fantastic vehicle for efficient customer acquisition so long as it is planned and executed properly. Applying the strategies and tactics referenced in this article will help in getting one step closer to your category domination and overall success in your organic search program.