Archive for August 4th, 2011

04
Aug
11

SEO Success Metrics–Get Some

It's raining money!So yesterday we poked around the edges of success metric identification and came up with a few possibilities. Okay, says you, so I figured out which one is right for me, now what?

We’ll tell you what. The success metric you choose will be the goal for your SEO campaign.  And of course, that means you should design the campaign to maximize your potential in that direction. Here are some thoughts:

More sales. If you want people to buy stuff from your website, first you’ll need to choose keywords that used by people looking to buy. There are two very important aspects to consider. The first is the “Purchase Cycle.” These are the five steps most consumers follow through the process of buying stuff, whether online or at the store.

  1. Awareness. Consumer learns of a product, becomes interested.
  2. Research. Consumer investigates product type, variations, uses etc.
  3. Comparison. Consumer checks differences in brand, cost, availability.
  4. Decision. Consumer picks one and buys it.
  5. Relationship. Consumer builds post-purchase opinion of the process which will color any future potential interactions with the seller.

If your only concern is shopping cart completions, then you need to enter the cycle at #3, the point where consumers are comparing the product in order to decide whether or not to buy.

And what that means for SEO is choice of keywords. Keywords designed to attract comparison shoppers are different from ones designed to attract product researchers. “Best widget” is a better keyword for this end than say “About widgets” or “the use of widgets.” Choose keywords that appeal to consumers who already know what they want, they are now ready to buy and looking for the right specific product, the best price, free shipping, or the like.

The second thing you need to worry about is your “Purchase Path.” This is a linear representation of the steps required of a potential customer in order to

  1. Find the product they’re looking for
  2. Gather the information they need to make a decision
  3. Enter the shopping cart environment
  4. Navigate the shopping cart environment
  5. Successful conclude a purchase

A failure at any point in this path makes even the best SEO campaign irrelevant. You can drive 100,000 visits a day on the keyword “buy little black dress” but you won’t make a single sale if arriving visitors can’t find the dress, can’t figure out what sizes it comes in, can’t find the “add to cart” button, can’t figure out an eight page order process, and can’t get the form to accept their credit card.

Purchase paths absolutely need to be simple, transparent, and rigorously tested. That is, if you want your SEO to result in sales.

More sign-ups. If all you’re looking for is a list of people who might someday be interested in your products or services, you’ll need to start at an earlier place in the cycle,  at #1 or #2.  Here, you’re going to try to identify the keywords that might be used by people who don’t quite know what they’re looking for. Maybe they’re trying to solve a problem. Maybe they just found themselves interested in something new to them. Keywords like “what is a widget” and “how to fix fraggits” are more appropriate here. Once you’ve got those keywords, to succeed you need to do two things: 1) serve information that directly answers the keyword queries in an interesting and understandable way; and 2) make it so easy to sign up for a mailing list that even your 90 year-old grandma could do it stoned. Put another way, drive keyword requests for specific information right to that information, make it easy to digest, and even easier to sign up for more of the same.

Higher ranks for vanity keywords. Vanity keywords are defined as particular keywords that are chosen for rank improvement based on criteria other than successfully driving qualified visitors. Maybe somebody high in the food chain always wanted to be number 1 in Google for his mother’s maiden name. Or for something generic like “summer.” There may or may not be increases in  likely visits or sales or anything measurable except search results page rank. Sometimes, this is an impossible task. If the boss wants to win for the keyword “MP3” well, there ain’t enough money to make that happen, unless your name is Trump. Usually, though, vanity keywords are less competitive and can be reached by basic SEO tactics. Heard of Google bombing? That’s when you decide to force high rank from a keyword by placing a multitude of backlinks using that keyword as link text on a wide spread of sites. Ask Rick Santorum whether or not that works.

More magic pixie dust. ‘K. Maybe you’ve identified something else entirely that you need from your SEO campaign. Doesn’t matter what your chosen success metric, you just need to pay attention to these things:

  • Know whose searches you’re trying to capture
  • Learn to think like they do when they’re looking
  • Give them what they’re looking for
  • Make it easy for them to do what you want them to

Easy peasy.