Posted by searchbrat This post was originally in YouMoz , and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc. There has recently been a lot of great discussion around the role of an SEO and how SEO strategies are evolving to include more tactics (PR, Social, Content, CRO, etc.). In my opinion, the role of an SEO hasn’t changed much as the focus is still on driving more organic traffic to their client’s sites. If SEO consultants want to own more of the funnel, their title will need to change to support a more expansive role that includes multiple channels, rather than changing what the term “SEO” itself means. A background in SEO definitely provides a solid foundation to take ownership of integrated marketing campaigns that encompass a lot more of this: For this post, I am going to focus on two key areas of SEO from a presentation I recently gave . They are: Beyond keywords Content that works My main goal for this post is to show how strong SEO’s have the skills to become great funnel owners, without having to change the term SEO. Let’s get started! 1. Beyond keywords What good SEOs already do: Model search behavior across the funnel Good SEO’s are already skilled in the art of modeling user search behavior across a search buying cycle. They look to identify what language prospects are using relevant to their business. How they refine their search at each stage of the cycle and what the potential competition is for each of their target phrases. This helps identify what keywords a business can complete for (taking budget and resources into account), what content should be developed for each phrase, and what are the target keywords for their link building strategy. Good SEO’s will: 1. Use PPC data SEO’s will create exact match Adwords campaigns for the keywords they’ve identified for a business. This gives them an estimation of potential traffic and conversions (whatever that may be for a given site). This would only be an estimate as there are big differences between PPC and Organic click through rates . 2. Measure head vs long tail They use advanced segments in Google Analytics to split this traffic out by keyword length (get advanced segments for keyword lengths here ). This allows SEO’s to bucket keywords into head, body, and tail, adding competition stats and potential ROI. 3. Track top of funnel keywords They pay close attention to data from sources like Google Trends and Google Instant ( UberSugget.org ) to look for top of funnel keywords that are not mapped against commercial intent, but instead whose sole purpose is to attract people in the awareness stage and begin to grow the brand online. 4. Create keyword funnels Good SEOs will map keywords across the buying cycle of a business, including lots of extra information about those keywords. In this example, we have simply added the potential revenue from that keyword and keyword difficulty from the SEOmoz tool of the same name. The keyword marked green is one whose search volume is rising fast (data from Google Trends). 5. Create content maps The great SEO will take all this data and either map it against existing content, or create new content suitable for the target key phrase. The smartest SEO may even start thinking about why certain pages will attract links and build this into the design. If you need more information on keyword research, you can check out: ViperChills Keyword Research Guide KissMetrics Guide to Keyword Research SEOmoz Guide to Keyword Research I want more of that funnel What great funnel owners do: Model the whole customer Likely due to my background in software development, I am obsessed with persona modeling; I’ve talked about this previously on SEOmoz here and here . Persona modeling is nothing new, and smart marketers have been using them to help with brand marketing, website design, and UI for years. In fact, SEOmoz did a great whiteboard Friday on the topic back in 2008 with Ian Lurie and Rand Fishkin sporting some very groovy hair! Persona modeling is a critical task conducted by great funnel owners, and SEO’s can definitely apply their skills to provide this function. In today’s data driven world, there are so many places to acquire data about your potential customers: I’ve labeled these strategies either easy or hard to implement based on my experiences. What type of data you get back is heavily dependent on the market you are in. (Note that I put a question mark against psychographic data in Facebook as this is something I’ve only recently begun to look at, thanks to all the great information from @aimclear in sources like this post , this post , and his MozCon session .) As Ian mentioned in the video above, a lot of persona modeling will still rely on gut instinct. With all this data, you can start to validate your guesswork and pivot much quicker. For example, if we use the seven steps Ian gave in the Whiteboard Friday video (see below), we can see where our data can be applied to help validate our guess work (think how much more data we have for our prospects since that video was made): Bonus Tip: When at step one (brainstorming), I highly recommend Simon Sineks Ted Talk, Start With Why . This talk helps focus your mind on the type of people you are trying to attract. You define why your company exists and what your vision is, and outline how to find people who share that vision. For example, SEOmoz is famous for TAGFEE. They believe in being totally transparent, over delivering on everything they do, and building a world-class community of smart SEOs. You can see how that influences the type of marketing they execute. If SEOmoz started with the “What?” e.g. “We build great inbound marketing tools, come and get them,” they may not have been as successful as they are now or attract the type of customers they currently do. Starting with “why” will help you tremendously. How do well thought-out personas help great funnel owners? Glad you asked. Well constructed personas help develop many different tactics, including: Content that resonates Community that engages Display/retargeting ads that get clicked Emails that get opened 2. Content that works What good SEOs already do: Audit sites to make the engines (and user’s) happier Good SEOs are a technical bunch and know how to ensure your site is ready to take on the search engines and win. Better yet, since good on-site optimizations follow good UI principles, the people visiting your site will be just as happy. Hopefully this will lead to them becoming customers and spending money buying products from your site or signing up for the offers you have. Good SEO’s will: 1. Make accessibility and indexability a must for your site Good SEOs will crawl your full site with tools like Screaming Frog (or similar) to ensure the following: Your site is accessible to the search engines All of the pages you expect to be indexed are indexed The indexed pages are loading in a respectable time. 2. Check all key areas of your site in order to: Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions are optimized for key pages Ensure your content is relevant for the keyword it’s targeting Make sure your content is worthy of the keyword it’s targeting Resolve any duplicate content issues that may be causing issues for your site Implement schema.org tags where necessary 3. Conduct a competitor analysis A good SEO will look at your core competitors to see what are they doing better both onsite and offsite (to attract links), discover what are their weaknesses, and divise a plan for you to leverage them. If you need more information on site audits, you can check out: How to Perform the World’s Greatest SEO Audit 4 Part Guide from SearchEngineJournal I want more of that funnel What great funnel owners do: Audit content to build a strategy to amaze prospects The number of businesses who are going to place content marketing at the center of their marketing strategy will, undoubtedly, grow over the next few years. Great funnel owners can audit their content strategy for insights on what they could be doing better, develop a content strategy that is layered across their funnel, and provide benchmarks tied to business goals. Therea are three key tasks to complete to help you create the right content strategy for your business: 1. Determine your “sweet spot” Doug Kessler best summed up the sweet spot of your content in this post over on Econsultancy: “Your sweet spot is the exact area of your company’s expertise. It’s the thing you are uniquely positioned to talk about”. You must figure out what content area your company should own and, once it’s decided, make sure you can allocate the resources to do it. 2. Conduct a TOFU content audit What content is delivering against my top of funnel metrics? You can build custom reports in Google Analytics to look at your content performance in terms of top of funnel metrics to see what content is delivering. Even better, you can categorize by topics to identify those working best for your company after identifying your sweet spot. Looking just at top of funnel metrics in Google Analytics, your report may look something like this (I’ve excluded Page Title so you can see the metrics): You can then extract this data and add the links and shares each piece has attracted, which is important for top of funnel metrics, but is not the sole objective of every top of funnel content piece ( read more on that here ). Kevin Gibbons wrote a great article around the subject of content auditing for further explanation. What’s really interesting is when you start to break your content out into topics. This called topic modeling: deciphering which topics are driving metrics across your funnel. For an example of topic modeling, here is a chart showing what topics are generating top of funnel metrics for Marketo (this is obviously a condensed version with only two metrics on display). The data can start to tell you two important things: There might be topics you are writing a lot about, but aren’t bringing in much inbound traffic. Maybe the topic isn’t even important for top of funnel metrics, or maybe it’s critical once a user is in the funnel, in which case, this should become evident in your mid of funnel audit. There might be topics that are important to your brand, but aren’t getting very much attention. You may need to make changes in your editorial calendar to ensure these topics get more focus. I want to know what content is getting shared, but also what content has the highest social CTR? Finding data to support what content is being shared is important, but better yet, I want to know the social CTR of that content. This is not an easy task, but when you have the awesome guys from DataSift helping you, it makes things a lot easier. Let’s use SEOmoz as an example. I was lucky enough to get a preview of an upcoming release of DataSift that provides an insight into social clickstream traffic. By filtering and analyzing these immense volumes of social click data, it provides a view into both how we share social content, and what content we are engaging with. This view is much more informative than simply knowing what’s being shared. I now know what percentage of people are clicking on each link based on the total social reach of the content on Twitter vs the click-data. For SEOmoz, I looked at five of the most recent pieces of content from the blog. Below are the URLs with total shares: This tells me what content got the most shares over whatever time period I chose. If I had taken a bigger sample, I could group the shares around topics. Taking the example above, I can look at my social CTR for each post: More people are clicking on the post around link building than the post on Facebook resources, which got a lot more shares. Is this because of the headline? Is it dependent on the audience sharing it (more people might be interested in link building vs Facebook) and what content their follower’s love? I can now start to answer these questions with data-driven hypotheses. I can also see the Share: View ratio. This ratio is the total reach (sum of followers) that my content may be seen by, and the number of clicks throughs it’s actually getting: This kind of data can help me figure out how to get more users sharing my content on social platforms and, better yet, clicking on the links. More and more companies are going to be using content as a way to grow their top of funnel, and you need to be all over your metrics to ensure the strategy you have in place will keep you top of the pile. 3. Conduct a MOFU content audit Content driving traffic and shares is no good if it’s not delivering on actual business metrics. Going back to Marketo as an example (you can do a version of this for B2C), I can look at the performance of topics for new names (Leads), First Touch Pipe created, and Multi Touch Pipe created (where a piece of content wasn’t the first touch, but was consumed during the sale). For example, if I look at new names (which are form completes by people we don’t currently have in our database), I can see that content on social media is generating a high amount of new names for this time period (the data is a skewed due to the time period I chose): You can start to match this up against your top of funnel audit and identify any topics delivering lots of traffic but no names. What’s missing? Wrong topics? Not strong enough call to actions for those topics? Content assets not strong enough to move prospects to the next stage, such as filling out a form? I am then interested in what topics are creating the most in First Touch Pipeline e.g. the first asset a prospect consumed on their path to becoming a customer: Again, this data is heavily skewed by the time period when I looked at, but if I compare this against multi touch, you can see why it’s so important to compare the two: After comparing the charts, we can see that email is generating some good traffic for us in the top of funnel audit and that it’s also generating some good first touch pipeline, but it’s a really important topic once users are in our funnel. It’s created 18% more when we look at it as a multi touch topic. We want to ensure that email assets are readily available to prospects once they are in the funnel, including in the lead nurture track we add them to. In Marketo, we also do this by asset type, including eBook, whitepaper, checklist, video, etc. You can then start to figure out the right mix of topics and asset types for your business, like where to allocate resources and budget. Once completed, you can then layer the right content mix by topic and asset type across your funnel (B2B or B2C). How does a well-planned content strategy help great funnel owners? Glad you asked. A well-planned content strategy helps open up many new doors for funnel owners, including: Thought leadership in your market Free visits, links, and shares Reduced bounce rate Increased engagement metrics Improved CRO results More money! So what do you think about an SEO’s ability to become a great funnel owner? Are we going to see many former SEOs become CMOs in the future? Would love to hear from you in the comments. Until next time (another signature cheesy sign off ) ….. 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The SEO Path to Becoming a Great Funnel Owner
Latest posts by searchbrat (see all)
- The SEO Path to Becoming a Great Funnel Owner – October 24, 2012
- #SocialSuccess – An Inbound Marketing Case Study for B2B – April 20, 2012