In order to effectively use organic search as an acquisition channel, companies should bring all internal efforts and strategies together. First and foremost, businesses need to establish firm business goals. By “firm business goals”, I mean actual business goals such as “We want to increase sales by XX, achieve a cost per sale of YY in ZZ months” instead of goals to increase unique visitors through website traffic. Most businesses I speak to, do not reflect on their goals enough before diving into the development of their websites. Making this fundamental mistake will increase costs considerably. The next step should then be to identify tactics and develop strategies to achieve these goals.
Start by researching the search data. Searchers aren’t an isolated demographic from the rest of your target audience. Searchers are your target audience. People use search engines every day. What they search for and how they search provides an incredibly useful insight into their needs. Most major search engines provide access to this information via various tools such as Google Insights for Search, Google AdWords Keyword Tool, Google Trends, etc.
Search engines also monitor what people type into the search box and what they click on next. They know what people click on and quickly return back to search results to find a better answer. This type of tracking provides search engines with ideas for further improvement of their algorithms. This is why search results are another great place to test your own target audiences.
With search-based market research, you can gain a lot of information about customer behaviour and needs without spending a penny on surveys or other costly methods.
Combining how we search with why we search and what we search for is vital in understanding a business’s potential audience. Effective search acquisition begins with learning more about your customers and exactly what they’re searching for. Once you know who they are and how they search, you can assess your site and make sure it satisfies the needs of those searchers.
The minimum required to increase the effectiveness of organic search as an acquisition channel is that companies should ensure their websites are accessible to search engine bots, have indexable content and be relevant to searchers. Sounds easy? You may know about using search data, building a comprehensive strategy, creating searcher personas, and engaging with customers, but what do your web architects, content writers and developers know about their role in ensuring your search strategy is effective?
For a business to be successful online in the long term, it must make search a key part of all aspects of its organisation, not a separate activity. I have been in the company of ‘digital specialists’ who have suggested that ‘SEO is dead’. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Search engine optimisation is very much alive, but to be successful in an online environment, businesses should stop thinking about it as optimizing your site for search engines and start thinking about it as optimising your site for your audience, who are the searchers.
Find a good agency or a consultant to ensure that search acquisition best practices are being followed within your organisation. Think strategically about how your business fits into a search-based culture. SEO can be accompanied with a negative perception., but this is only because some of those who practice SEO focus on shady and cheap techniques to manipulate rankings rather than customer experience.
So, what is required to implement search best practices within an organization?
- Use search data to build comprehensive and effective product and content strategies.
- Understand searchers’ behaviour and distil searcher’s personas that achieve high customer satisfaction and conversions.
- Accept that the customer journey often begins with the search box, not your website.
- Integrate search with other marketing activities.
- Ensure the technical architectures of the site can be crawled and indexed by search engines so that it can be visible to searchers.
Effective search strategy begins with acceptance of the following: If searchers want to find the best result as fast as possible. Search engines want to predict searchers’ intent and deliver the most relevant results as fast as possible. Site owners must strive to build their websites so that they are easily understood by search engines to market their content to the right audience at the right time.
Written by Polly Pospelova, Head of Search at www.KUB-UK.net. KUB Agency is a full-service digital creative agency with strategy at its heart. Working with intelligence and craft & love to invent the things their clients need – wherever their audiences’ are.