How does Santa know what everyone wants for the holidays? Simple, the children tell Santa very specifically. Whether they are sitting on his lap, or writing letters in crayon, Santa's "customers" make it very clear to him what they are looking for this holiday season.
You have the same advantage. Grownups use search engines to tell you exactly what they want. You simply need to show up, no matter what or how they are asking.
If Santa were dishing out corporate blogging advice for marketers this holiday season, I'm sure it would sound something like this:
Blog for search
Recognize that blogging is a terrific search marketing tool and embrace it early. Blogs give you an easy way to quickly tell lots of stories frequently. The reality is that most blog traffic is coming from first-time visitors. They don't know you yet. What searchers do know is what they want or the problems they are trying to solve. Developing specific blogs targeting specific products or services is a terrific way to target these self-qualifying prospects.
Matt Cutts from Google offers great advice to anyone who is trying to show up in search: "Think about what people are going to type... and talk about that." This sounds so simple but is so often ignored. What blogs give you is an unlimited palette to use the keywords that drive your business. I like to refer to this as "the language of the customer."
Do your keyword research and take advantage of the space that your blogs give you to talk about your products and services using the words your customers use. You will naturally draw more traffic. Mike Volpe of Hubspot refers to this as "tickets in the lottery." The more content you have, the more keywords you are using, and the greater your odds of being found by someone looking to solve a problem.
Example: GK Elite
GK Elite is a leader in gymnastics and cheer wear. It sells products both online and through a nationwide network of retailers. It targets hundreds of specific terms through blogging, using keywords such as "gymnastic warm up suit," "all star cheerleading uniforms," "team leotards," and "tumbling cloths," to name just a few.
Targeting search through these ecommerce-focused blogs not only helps dramatically increase organic traffic, but such traffic also converts at a very high level -- which is a clear indication that the search audience is happy to have landed on one of the company's blogs.
It has been estimated that as much as 50 percent of all search has local intent. Take advantage of your blogs to "talk local." Both the search engines and the searchers are looking for clues as to where you are. Suppose you have physical locations in a big city. You might think having your address on a site or a storefinder function might be enough -- but it's not.
Use your blogs to tell stories that include phone numbers, addresses, as well as surrounding suburbs and towns. Talk using neighborhood names and slang (Chicagoland, Westside, Motown, etc.)
Remember, you can't control how the searcher might describe what they want, so you have to cast a really wide net. Posting frequently about customers you have serviced from lots of different areas help people find you.
National plumbing company Roto-Rooter has embraced targeted blogging to drive local searches. By empowering its plumbers in the communities it serves to tell stories about their business, the company is able to target people in those communities the very moment when they need the services of a plumber the most. Targeting terms like "plumber Detroit" or "toilet repair Seattle," Roto-Rooter shows up because of the local stories the plumbers tell.
A great deal of search is very specific to inventory. Talk frequently about your products and specifically about what you have right now. As the holidays get closer, people are going to begin to get more desperate. By posting about what you have in stock, you have a much greater chance to move that inventory.
I recently needed a last-minute gift for my wife. I wanted a high-quality sapphire Colts necklace -- and I wanted it now. I am positive that this necklace was available many places in Indianapolis, but because none of those businesses created any recent content talking about this product, they all missed out on a $1,000+ sale.
Example: Tire Rack
Tire Rack is an online retailer in a very unique niche. It actually sell tires online -- lots of them. The company ships to your local tire dealer, who does the installation.
The people who shop for tires online are looking for very specific inventory based on attributes relating to their car, style of driving, or specific tires that they might have seen reviewed elsewhere. By empowering its employees to blog about specific products when they have them, Tire Rack is driving serious ROI.
The biggest miss in multi-channel merchant blogging is the conversion. Just like any other web page in your inventory, your blogs need to have clear, relevant, and effective calls-to-action. If a searcher lands on a blog about a diamond necklace or a flat-screen TV, they sure better have a way to buy that product.
Many companies do a wonderful job on PPC landing pages and totally drop the ball on their blogs. You have to think of your blogs as organic landing pages. The goal is conversion -- get your searchers to take the next step in the relationship.
Example: AirFlow Technology
AirFlow and its agency, Drive, wanted to develop stronger calls-to-action. Like all good web marketers, they were continually testing various versions. By replacing the two original calls to action with three new product-specific CTAs, AirFlow saw a 987.5 percent increase in click-through conversions.
Blogging for search works because your visitors are finding you for very specific reasons -- to solve a problem. With the right CTAs, AirFlow has increased its average conversion to more than 12 percent of all visits.
Every kind of business can benefit from search-optimized blogging. By following the advice above, you are putting your organization in front of people who have expressed their intent to find a solution to their needs, whether it's for information, services, or products.
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