When it comes to UX design and marketing content, sometimes everything feels like more art than science. It’s fair to want amazing visual elements that wow your potential customers and improve conversion rates, but you don’t have to be gifted or lucky to pull this off.
Why Content Strategy Should Start With Search Data
It doesn’t matter if you’re just making new content, considering a few feature improvements, or completely redesigning your site, search data is one of your most valuable resources for meeting your business goals. Your content marketing strategy will improve with clearer target markets delivering better conversion rates if you pay attention to this valuable information your potential customers are working hard to give you.
When trying to promote a product or service through a landing page, you spend lots of energy hoping to capture attention within seconds and are willing to invest in A/B testing for which button label generates more clicks.
Compare that to someone who is actively typing out exactly what they want, keystroke by keystroke, sometimes even with their thumb on a phone? The intent expressed with that level of effort is not to be taken lightly. You need to look hard at your search data, because your potential customers worked hard to give it to you!
Gather current search data
Much like the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, if you’re not already tracking your search data in detail you need to start today.
Your own marketing site might have a search field that searches just for content within your site. However that is built, you need to be able to get a report on everything anyone has ever typed in there. You’ll want to know both the breadth of search terms and also the frequency. Additionally you’ll want to be able to see how trends change over time.
Google will tell you what keywords people were searching for when they ended up on your site if you have Google Analytics installed (it can help with the internal search report as well!) You’ll want a list of the most popular search terms and the pages people end up at on your site.
Finally, you can do some research for what is going on across the Internet that you may be missing. Sites like href or SEMrush help you analyze what search terms your competitors are performing well for. Google Trends can help you see how words associated with your products and services may have changed in popularity over time.
Make a spreadsheet with all the search terms that produce the type of traffic you’re looking for, along with their popularity. This list will be helpful if you ever run a paid search advertising campaign, but it can also inform your content and marketing strategy right away.
Gather site performance data
Using Google Analytics or a similar service, find what pages are most popular on your web presence. You’ll need to skip a few of the top level landing pages which will capture the majority of traffic organically. What pages are popular from within your product or services section? Which are your most popular blog pages? Build a spreadsheet of this data too.
Create a search focused content strategy
Your most popular pages should map to the most popular search terms. The design and content of those pages should reflect your best work.
If you look at the two spreadsheets you’ve made and you don’t have dedicated pages for the top 10-20 key search phrases, that might be a really easy opportunity to create some new content or functionality that you know your target audience will benefit from.
If you do see a pretty good potential mapping of content to search, does the search data from Google Analytics validate that? If not you may find that making some SEO improvements to your current content will help you quickly achieve some business goals.
Ways to use search data in a complete site redesign
We’ve just shown you how to use search data in better managing your current site, but if you’re considering rebuilding everything from scratch this should apply even more.
Start with the process above, but additionally consider how these keywords might change the labels you use for major navigation items or work into your web design wireframes. If people are looking for a term your products or services can satisfy, but perhaps wasn’t focused on, you might consider updating your marketing strategy to speak directly to that target audience with some new content areas or updated branding. Does search show some confusion in your market space? Consider how your new website might become an authority by better educating potential customers on these concepts they’re clearly searching for more information on.
Ask yourself if you’re making search as easy as possible on your site? Many sites don’t have a search tool at all, or if they do it doesn’t perform very well compared to Google. A basic database search isn’t going to cut it, so explore tools like Elastic Search which give you the natural language experience people expect. There are lots of chatbot/support widgets out there that can directly connect a potential customer to a sales representative if available, but also capture search data to add to your marketing planning process as well.
Don’t ignore search data!
Every keystroke someone shares with you is more valuable than the click you’re paying for with an ad or landing page call to action. Give your potential customers the information they’re asking you for, and crush your business goals.