Updated on August 13, 2019, to reflect more current information.
As marketers, we can put so much effort into getting our sites into Google’s organic search results that we often neglect the search data from people who have already reached our sites. Internal site search data can show you what your target audience wants to read, what they have trouble finding, and, most importantly, which search phrases have the most conversion intent.
It requires a brief bit of set-up and some understanding of what to look for in the data, but it can be massively valuable in improving your site for existing users and helping you reach new users.
Getting Site Search Data Flowing
To set up this data on your site, go to your internal search function…
…and search for literally anything:
Once you get to the search results page, look for what you searched in the URL parameters. In our case, it shows up in the addsearch parameter. Copy this parameter for later.
Open up your Google Analytics Admin (1) and go to View Settings (2) to access the site search settings.
Flip the Site Search Tracking toggle to “ON” and plug in the query parameter you copied under it.
Unfortunately, this setting isn’t retroactive, but it will start collecting site search data in the Behavior > Site Search section of Google Analytics from here on out.
What the Site Search Reports Look Like
Once the data starts flowing, there are several ways Google’s canned site search reports allow you to slice the data for better insights.
Behavior > Site Search > Usage
The first is simply segmenting those who perform a search vs. those who don’t and allowing you to compare a range of engagement and conversion metrics under each of those lenses.
This can give you a general feel for how effective your internal search mechanism are at helping people find what they need and complete objectives on the site.
In our case, site searchers convert at over 6x higher than those who don’t search!
Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms
The next piece is the nitty-gritty: what are people actually searching for? Although the Top 10 may indicate some broader trends, I recommend getting all search terms out into Excel and grouping them into categories of similar searches. For us, SEO-related topics (“seo” and “serp”) and searches around our tools (“title generator” and “content idea generator”) would be worthwhile groups.
One thing to keep in mind: you’ll get a much larger range of long-tail searches with only one unique search than you will short-tail searchers with lots of unique searches. So it’s important to bundle performance across a range of similar searches in order to make the data more meaningful to act on.
Behavior > Site Search > Search Pages
The last report in the section gives you an idea of where people are on their site journey when they’re getting lost. A high percentage of Search Refinements and low Time after Search can be indicators that the page they started searching on isn’t effectively showing folks where to go next or answering their questions in terms of navigation.
What to Do with the Data
This data, like any marketing data, can be massively overwhelming when you start collecting it over long stretches of time. But focusing on a few important things can help you make the most of it.
Pretty obvious, right? Visitors searching for content that doesn’t exist on your site is a one-stop-shop for ideas your content team can work on creating. We had a lot of people searching for “shoes” in our data, probably because of this old post we did on Shopify SEO that included a ton of examples around shoes.
Maybe they want to come back to that post specifically? Or maybe we just have a lot of apparel brand marketers looking for all-around marketing advice now? In any case, it will help us create better assumptions about our target audience and what kinds of posts get them reading.
Reorganize Site Navigation
Another avenue for exploration is re-working your nav based on what gets searched for most often on the homepage.
Our site search data showed a high concentration of folks looking for specific tools we built in the past. That link is nested under our “Resources” navigation menu, but perhaps we’re making people interested in our tools work too hard to find it there?
But the most powerful way you can use this data is to generate audiences based on specific site search phrases who haven’t converted yet and reach back out to them with very targeted offers in Google Ads.
With this segmentation and audience-building method, you don’t have to hope somebody will come back to the site after you’ve optimized for site search experiences. You can actively pursue them and bring them back to specific pages that they might not have seen on their last visit.
While focusing on organic search results is important to help grow the number of new visitors to your site, don’t forget about those individuals who have already discovered your product or brand. Hop into site search data today and see what you can learn about the visitors you have and learn what they might tell you about the visitors you want.
The post Working with Internal Site Search Data in Google Analytics appeared first on Portent.
Run a Google search for “agile marketing” today and you’ll see 144 million results. It’s an insanely hot topic, which has steadily grown more applicable and desired from it’s “Scrum” beginnings.
Why are marketers today so obsessed with agility? Roland Smart, podcaster, author of “The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience Into Your Competitive Advantage” and Vice President of Marketing for Pantheon*, shared his insight on the subject at Digital Summit Minneapolis this week.
For starters, the average marketer’s tenure is just 18 months. After all, we need to get results—and we need them fast. Second, while our strategies and tactics have been artfully crafted with insight and data, once we put everything into the wild, we need to be able to act fast to monitor, measure, and optimize performance—while also navigating budget and “waterfall” resourcing limitations and challenges. And finally, today’s marketers are often managing a growing tech stack, making an agile approach a match made in heaven.
Read on to learn more about agile marketing and Roland’s secrets to making agile marketing a reality in your organization.
What is Agile Marketing?
There are several different things that marketers think of when it comes to agile marketing. (Scrum and Kanban are two of the concepts that are likely top of mind.) But a simple definition is: Agile marketing is a methodology that enables marketers to meet the rising tide of challenges of customer experience in the digital era.
At the most basic level, an agile marketing approach means tackling your highest priority task, assessing success, optimizing until solved, and then moving to your second priority task. As it relates to general agile practices: “Scrum and Kanban are simply a collection of underlying practices that your team is going to do day-in and day-out as a part of your agile practice,” Roland explained.
While each team will have its own subtle variations of their agile practices, a solid framework for marketers trying to get started is:
- Maintain a Backlog
How Can Marketers Benefit From Agile?
According to Roland: “Agile is the shortest path to driving results.”
[bctt tweet=”#Agile is the shortest path to driving #marketing results. @rsmartly #DSMPLS” username=”toprank”]
In a traditional waterfall methodology, the output is exactly what is planned. But by using an agile methodology, thanks to frequent feedback loop with stakeholders and customers plus subsequent direction refinement, the output is what is needed to drive results.
The Secret to Agile Marketing Transformation
Test Before Advocating for a Transformation
Of course, completely transforming your marketing operations is a major undertaking. So, in the spirit of agile practices, marketers can dip a toe in the agile marketing waters, Roland said.
He suggested a simple exercise testing the “Growth Lever” for a “North Star Metric.”
First, identify a priority website metric like conversions; that’s your North Star Metric. In a waterfall method, you might dive in and optimize several of your form fields and your calls to action copy and design. But in this agile approach, you can select a single Growth Lever. This should be something on the website that you can change and measure that will ultimately impact your North Star Metric.
For example, you may simply change a single CTA copy. If you have the ability and traffic volume to set up the change as an A/B test, great. If not, you can reference your past performance as a benchmark.
Roland explained, “This [data from the] Growth Lever won’t move ‘the hour’, but you’ll see the minute hand moving and can learn from that.”
The bottom line? This can help you learn before you’ve invested a massive amount of time and resources.
Get Buy-In & Break Down Silos By Leveraging Your ‘Secret Weapon’
Getting buy-in and collaboration from stakeholders across the organization is key to the success of any initiative, and it’s no different for agile marketing. But while this is undoubtedly critical, it’s not always easy to achieve, especially when it comes to getting executives on-board.
But Roland has some advice on this front. He suggests activating your organization’s “secret weapon”: Your web team.
Why? “Your core digital experience is your website,” Roland said early in his presentation.
“Everything leads to your website,” he added later. “The web team is set up to integrate with every department. They are in a unique position to exert their influence when it comes to the way the rest of the organization works.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about collaboration, which is where WebOps comes into play—something Roland’s company is well-versed in. WebOps is DevOps (a culture that promotes collaboration between development and operations teams) for web teams.
“DevOps gives web teams agile superpowers,” he said.
[bctt tweet=”#DevOps gives web teams #agile superpowers. @rsmartly #DSMPLS” username=”toprank”]
From helping create structured agile workflows to site management, there are a lot of things web teams can do to automate and streamline so your marketing team can focus on higher-value things, Roland explained.
“WebOps is at its core, is about streamlining the process of how work gets done through agile tools and processes,” he said.
Is Agile Marketing For Your Organization?
After reading this, you’re probably pondering: Is agile marketing a good fit for my organization?
Certainly, making the switch to an agile model needs deep consideration. But from Roland’s perspective, agile marketing is no longer a good practice. It’s best practice.
For more marketing tricks and tips, stay tuned here for updates from Digital Summit Minneapolis (#DSMPLS).
*Disclaimer: Pantheon is a TopRank Marketing client.
The post Pantheon’s Roland Smart Details the Secret to Agile Marketing Transformation #DSMPLS appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
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If you’re asking this question, there’s a good chance you may be missing some very valuable insights about the current stance of your content. In most cases, even if sales are trending upwards, there are always some aspects of your website that need attention and a content audit can help pave the way for what you should focus on next.
Web content is very much alive, and it requires ongoing maintenance. Even if you’ve done a solid job of managing your content development efforts, doing an audit of your site is always a good idea.
While establishing a content audit frequency is helpful, there are several other instances in which you should run a content audit. Keep reading to learn what they are.
Your Organic Traffic is Down
A significant drop in organic traffic is frequently a result of loss in organic search rankings. There are many reasons why this could be happening to you. The uprise of new and existing competitors, internal website changes, and Google algorithm updates are amongst the most obvious.
Because there are so many different factors, it may be challenging to pinpoint precisely what’s causing your organic traffic to drop. The good news is that these sorts of problems are almost always reversible.
If you seem to have lost organic traffic to some of your top-performing pages, it’s time to do some digging.
Now, before you start spinning your wheels, take a look at your Google Search Console (GSC) and see if you can spot any major drops in your impressions or the average positions for the pages that lost traction.
A quick reminder, your impressions are the number of times someone sees a link to your website in their search results. Your average position is the average position of a given page of your website in the search results. When it comes to your organic traffic, both are wildly important.
Back to checking the performance of individual pages in GSC. You can do this by going to GSC >> Performance >> Search results. Then, change your report settings to show you the Total Impressions (represented below in teal) and Average Position (represented below in purple). Next, click on the “Page” tab and search for the page you’re curious about. This should look similar to this:
After selecting that page, you’ll want to switch to the “Queries” tab – which represents the search queries that page is ranking for.
Once you’re there, adjust your date settings to compare the current search queries results to the three months prior. This time frame will help you catch any major red flags. This should look similar to this:
From this view, you’ll be able to determine what search queries you’ve lost–which will ultimately be the starting point of your content audit.
Your Content is Out of Date
Any piece of content that’s been up on the site for 2+ years should go through an audit.
Content updates are especially important for sites that want to be authoritative in their space. To be authoritative, you must be relevant. And to be relevant, you must have an ongoing conversation about which content you need to update, archive, or delete altogether.
If this sounds tedious, I promise you that the pay off is well worth it. When you keep your content up-to-date, not only are you providing a positive user experience but you’re also helping that content rank better in search results.
Every time an old piece of content gets updated and receives a new publishing date, search engines recrawl and reindex that content.
In summary, here’s a direct quote from Google’s Publishing Center, that explains just how valuable content updates can be:
“From the moment we discover a new article, we’ll keep recrawling it looking for changes. Since we noticed that most changes to articles occur just after they’re published, we revisit articles most frequently in the first day after we’ve found them. After that, we visit them less often.”
You’re Out of Content Ideas
It’s not entirely unusual for companies to feel as though they’ve said all there is to say about their brand, product, or service. After all, how much content could you possibly produce about something as straightforward as “air filters”?
Content audits inspire new ideas, or at the very least, give you a new perspective on the work that you’ve already produced.
If you can’t think of a single new content idea, audit your content to see what you’ve actually written about. Once you have this information, it becomes easier to see where your missing gaps are. And then be sure to check out this blog post for some tools that can help you write great content.
You’re Adding a New Product or Service
When adding new product or service pages, you must be mindful of how these pages are going to flow within the rest of your site ecosystem. Regardless of whether this update is core to the entirety of your business model, or it’s just another variation of something that already exists, you need to ensure that the new information fits in flawlessly.
If you don’t quite know where to start, think about the user journey and ask yourself the following questions:
- When visitors arrive on the new landing page, how are they getting there?
- Does the path make sense? Or do you need to add more copy to help the pages flow together?
- If a visitor arrives on the page from organic search, are the contents of the page sufficient enough for them to take action?
To answer these questions thoroughly, you must have a good understanding of your content inventory and should, therefore, start with a content audit.
You’re Going Through a Site Migration
Whether you’re finally moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS, experiencing subdomain or subfolder changes, moving to a new server, or undergoing a site redesign, you must start with a content audit.
The key to a smooth site migration is planning. Before you get started, you must know what you’re going to migrate and when.
Think of the site migration as a real-life move where you go from one house to another. It doesn’t make sense for you to pack up everything in your sight, move it to the new location, and only then start the cleanup process. If you do this, you’ll require extra boxes, a bigger U-Haul unit, and many more helping hands.
Content audits work in the same way. A content audit is your opportunity to declutter, consolidate, and get rid of any redundant or trivial content on your site. Sure, you will not need to rent a U-Haul for a site migration, but if a content audit can save you extra dollars on labor, you’d be smart to take advantage of it.
Your Competitors are Outranking You
At times it may feel like new competitors emerge overnight. Yesterday you were ranking first in organic search results and today, a competitor, whom you didn’t even know existed, is outranking you.
Losing rankings is not at all uncommon. It happens to the best of us. You can’t always stay on top, especially if you’ve been neglecting your content development efforts.
Competitors get ahead because they do their research. In other words, they audit you. And once they know what’s worked well for your site, they do everything in their power to one-up you.
To fight back, you must beat them at their own game. First, you’ll need to do a content audit of your website. Then, you’ll want to run the same audit for your competitor. While this can be a manual process, using the tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush mentioned earlier can cut your labor by half.
In doing so, you’ll have a clear understanding of what they’re doing that you’re not and how to go about filling the most glaring gaps.
You Established a New Voice and Tone
In short, your voice and tone is your brand personality. It’s the way you go about expressing your value proposition and is key to the type of audiences you wish to attract.
If you’re a law office, a hospital, or any other type of an institution, your tone and voice will likely be assertive and informative. Most importantly, it will be the exact opposite of say, an amusement park. While this voice and tone comparison is rather obvious, it’s not always this easy to figure out what you want your brand to sound like.
For example, if you are a software provider or an art supply shop, your voice and tone can fall almost anywhere on the silly to serious sides of the spectrum.
At times, companies get so caught up on their product or service, that they forget about their voice and tone. In some instances, it could take months to years before a company has a clear direction. Does that sound familiar? If so, you might want to check out Portent’s Tone of Voice Generator tool.
Once you finally have one, you’ll need to do a content audit to ensure that your voice and tone is consistent throughout the site. If there’s one thing that’s more important than content quality, it’s content consistency.
Don’t let your audience think, “wait, what did I just read?” Instead, audit, audit, and audit.
In summary, a content audit should be an ongoing part of your content development efforts, as it is the key to helping you stay at the top of organic search results. The content on your website should never be stagnant or out of date. And it must be audited anytime you add a new product or service to your website.
An audit is especially important when you make any significant changes to your site. And through it all, your content should always have the same look and feel to it.
So, iterate on your current work and leverage old content topics to create new once. If you don’t, know that your competitors will find a way to use your top-performing content against you.
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