The Future of Digital Engagement: Lee Odden on Search Engine Marketing at Each Stage in the Customer Journey

Digital engagement is transforming customer service, and elevating the expectations of online and cross-channel shoppers. LivePerson interviewed 10 respected industry experts to help us evaluate oncoming trends and predictions for the coming year.  This is the fourth post in our series, spotlighting insight from Lee Odden (@LeeOdden), CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, on the value and direction of search engine optimization.

When LivePerson asked me to share digital engagement predictions for the coming year, I was excited to share my thoughts on the future of search in the digital landscape. Search is, and will remain, a key to online success and is a vital online tactic in the overall marketing strategy.  Customers seek answers from the web, whether it’s via PC, mobile, or tablet, at every stage in the buying cycle. So it’s important that brands ask themselves: Is your website properly optimized to capture these visitors at every phase—from discovery to purchase?

Many businesses optimize their sites with intent to drive heavy traffic (with high performing keywords), but don’t provide content that truly aligns with chosen search terms. While this strategy may drive traffic, it doesn’t necessarily keep them there. One way to quickly determine the quality of your traffic is to check your bounce rate to see if visitors frequently leave your site immediately upon landing there.

So, how can you drive quality traffic to your website, and keep them coming back? The following are a few best practices to integrate into your overall marketing strategy.

1. Know Your Customer

Get to know your buyer. Conduct keyword research and monitor current activity on your website to uncover what topics your buyer is searching for, and what blog posts are most popular. Knowing what your buyer wants is the first step to delivering valuable content that will prove meaningful to new customers.

Also, make sure that web content aligns with targeted keywords. Visitors will leave your site if they cannot easily find the content they were seeking. Ultimately, your brand will attract unqualified visitors if keywords aren’t reflective of site content.

2. Align Sales with Search

Businesses should analyze KPIs that lead consumers to conversion. What pages are driving conversion? What pages serve as stepping stones to conversion? Take inventory of these pages and ensure that they are optimized appropriately.

For example, a landing page may be the final step before your visitor takes action. It’s critical that you optimize this page to stand apart from the rest of your site. Search Engine Watch provides a “process for crafting phenomenal SEO landing pages that are optimized for search and structured to generate conversions.” Visit the full post for details.

3. Track Performance & Facilitate Change

Once you’ve implemented your SEO strategy, your job is far from done. Track the performance of your pages, as well as subsequent keywords and page rankings, to see which ones proved successful. Moving forward, tailor your strategy to reflect buyer preferences, and continually refine messaging based on performance indicators.

The future will lie creating a search strategy that encompasses all devices and channels that customers are using. Shoppers aren’t only using PCs to search for product information or shop online. More and more shoppers are multichannel, and this trend will continue into 2014 and beyond. According to Google Think Insights, “90% of people use multiple screens sequentially.”  Today, and in the coming year, your search optimization strategy must span all channels, reach your customers on all screens and be integrated with your overall online marketing strategy.

Interested in more trends in search, and the future of digital engagement?

Download the full eBook to read more from Lee Odden, and other thought leaders in the digital marketing space—The Future of Digital Engagement: 10 Thought Leaders Share Predictions for 2014.

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