By Ryan Woolley, Vice President of Client Services, Response Mine Interactive
Over the past 10 years, RMI has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in organic revenue for our clients. The world of organic search has evolved dramatically, as has the search engines results page (SERP), and therefore also the tactics required to achieve success in this space.
Even with the dynamic evolution of the channel, we’ve found principles that work time and time again throughout the years. These include to:
- Apply a direct response methodology to organic search
- Go granular in keyword-level data analysis
- Strive for quality, not quantity
Companies that are driving large-scale, sustainable revenue and customer acquisition through the organic channel have embraced these main beliefs. In many cases, they treat and measure search engine optimizations much like a paid search program – with discipline around testing, experimentation, and granular analysis.
RMI’s SEO Tactics Chart unveils many of the tactics that we’ve executed as a result of this way of thinking. Here are some of the key attributes addressed in the chart to help you dominate your search category.
Keywords: Conversion Intent
It’s critical to consider the mindset of consumers in their decision-making process and the impact this has on conversion. In the keyword realm, we often speak of this as Head, Torso, and Long Tail keywords. Think of it as a spectrum, where Head terms commonly drive the volume and brand exposure, but not necessarily the end goal of conversion as they are more research-driven. Moving through Torso to Long Tail and SKU-level terms you’ll find the volume begins to thin out as the conversion rate increases. Building revenue opportunity models that factor volume and conversion will usually lead you to a focused set of keywords that include a healthy mix of each keyword type in your program.
On-Site: Content & Quality
Simply adding content can be a challenge in many cases, particularly when dealing with e-commerce sites in the retail space. Sometimes it’s a platform restriction, other times there are concerns that adding content will distract the user or push product down the page thus negatively impacting conversion. All are relevant concerns. What’s worked best for us is placing a small amount of keyword-focused content above the product table near the top of the page while adding several short paragraphs of content below the product table near the bottom of the page. This usually satisfies the business, the end user, and the engine.
One of the cornerstones to successful on-site optimization is authentic, quality content. By authentic we are referring to the uniqueness of the content. Again using retail as the example, it’s common to find businesses selling tens of thousands of SKUs, each with a dedicated page on their site. The idea of adding product-level content for each page can be a time-consuming proposition.
A common quick fix that businesses will apply is to repurpose or “borrow” content about that product from the manufacture website. Most often this content adds little to no value to the retailer’s organic efforts, as it was not the original publisher of the content. Unique content that is first published on your own site is what you should be striving for when evaluating the value that your content will bring from an organic perspective.
You absolutely must have a data-driven keyword strategy in place to drive results from your link building efforts. Identify keywords that have the highest likelihood of driving incremental online conversions and set those terms as your target.
These keywords become the genesis of your anchor text. But, don’t fall into the trap that many SEOs do. Here’s a common problem: “I want to rank for “men’s jackets” and in doing so I’ve determined that all of the links that I will attain will be targeted with “men’s jackets” as the anchor text.” This is a mistake. While you certainly need some focus on the primary keywords within your anchor text, it’s equally as important to work with derivatives of that keyword.
Moderation and diversification are important principles in anchor text selection. Do your homework and identify a set of valuable derivates such as “men’s winter jackets” and “cheap men’s jackets.” Diversifying the keywords within your link profile will help it in appearing natural.
An anchor text usage rule of thumb that we’ve seen success with looks something like this:
- 50% containing the exact match keyword
- 30% to 40% containing keyword derivatives
- 10% to 20% containing brand terms/URL
Reporting & Analytics
Conversions, then Traffic, then Rankings. This is the mindset used when we approach any SEO program. Focusing attention on keywords that have the highest likelihood to convert to a sale or lead is not always synonymous with high traffic terms. Spend the time in your analytics package to understand the difference and apply more pressure to keywords that will increase revenue/leads.
And don’t forget about tracking the activity that is occurring in your call center as a result of your organic efforts. In our experience, more than 90% of the businesses we’ve encountered have overlooked this – even in instances where they are tracking call center conversions from paid search. The technology is there (we have had success with ClickPath,) and if your business model is reliant on call center activity for conversions, the information available through this tracking typically opens up new opportunities and gives you a much more accurate view on the entirety of the results you are driving.
About the Author
Ryan Woolley is vice president of client services for RMI, an award-winning digital agency that helps companies acquire more customers using lead generation programs. For more than a decade, RMI has generated billions of dollars in revenue for world-renowned brands in the b2b, healthcare, travel, and home services channels using its strategic customer acquisition approaches.