Pulling Terms from Site Search for SEO/Paid Search

Site search can provide a wealth of information, potentially providing more insight into the users’ search patterns and behavior than any other of your search touch points. Site search, when tracked, can return any and all variations of search patterns people utilize on your site. Granted, you are dealing with a specific segment of users who are likely familiar with your products, services, or offerings, but still, you have access to valuable raw search data.

Depending on the volume of traffic your site gets, you may or may not be able to glean useful insights from site search patterns. However, if you can establish some patterns of site search, you may be able to figure out where in the search path you have gaps.

Search leads from SEO only deliver traffic that the search engines feel is relevant to your site, while paid search only provides traffic through words you think are relevant to your site. Site search allows you to see what your customers are actually entering as search terms without the search engine or your assumptions interfering in the query to be tracked. Enabling the management of site search should be a top priority, not just to help you improve your other search campaigns but also to improve the usefulness of your website. You should not be surprised if your site search is one of the most-used sections of your website, especially if you have a very large site.

Utilizing site search to build keyword lists to sample for both SEO and paid search may prove very fruitful. Once you’ve identified the most frequently searched terms on your site, you can compare those terms against the terms that drive traffic to your site via organic and paid search. Begin with your SEO keywords. Terms that are highly searched via site search should be cross-referenced against terms that appear in your SEO list. Any terms that do not appear in your SEO list should be added to a list of terms that should be tested for relevancy. For any terms that do appear in your site search list, look at the volume of traffic generated as well as the rankings of those terms in the search engine result pages. Any term that ranks poorly is also a candidate for testing. You should end up with a list of potentially relevant words. You may need to further filter this list to eliminate completely irrelevant terms. Once you have your short list, validate that these words are not in your paid search campaigns. What you are left with should be prime candidates for some paid search testing. Set up campaigns for each of these terms to validate keyword volumes as well as the quality of traffic from these search terms.

You should be tracking what has become your standard dashboard of raw traffic volumes, exit rates, conversion rates, sales assists (if trackable), and average value per visitor. You will also want to track and log who else is competing on these terms. Are they highly competitive terms, or are they low-competition terms? You may find that there is a set of terms that it never occurred to you to target with your paid search or SEO campaigns. Testing the terms in paid search allows you to perform quick evaluations with minimal spends to determine how much traffic they generate and the relevancy of that traffic. You may want to test these terms against several existing landing pages, or develop a new landing page with content you think may be relevant to searchers on these terms. To get an idea of what may work, look at the sites with the top SEO rankings on these terms.

While you can use tools such as Google Website Optimizer for A/B and multivariate testing, you can also run these tests manually. It is important to understand how each variation differs, and what impact these changes have on your results. Build up a test case for these keywords and log how the terms perform against different landing pages. Using paid search to deliver traffic. Landing pages and entry points can and do impact revenue. Beyond landing pages, users may hit other pages, all of which can be tracked in your clickstream data. We can see that page-1 has the highest average value per visitor and the highest conversion rate. As this appears to be the most successful landing page, I would focus on this page for capturing elements to improve conversions and maximize revenue.

Building out a new page for a second set of paid search tests would be beneficial before investing heavily in SEO activity. Test this page against your new baseline metrics and validate how it compares against the current pages. I would set this page up as a noindex page for the search spiders, as it will eventually replace an existing page on the site.

You will want to maintain that old page’s inbound links, and page rank, while you’re testing out a new page to capitalize on improving conversions and assists. When you do launch your new page, replace the old page. If your paid search campaign was showing positive results, you may want to continue to run that concurrently with your SEO efforts and monitor revenue from both the SEO and paid search traffic.

Using site search to expand your SEO and paid search campaigns can be a very costeffective way to build a keyword list, using terms that your customers are telling you are relevant to them. The first rule in understanding your search campaigns is to exhaust all data you have access to that provides insights directly from your customers before expanding out. The only time you would want to break this rule is if you are new to the market or if you are introducing a new product and have no footprint from which to leverage data (in which case, you may look for third-party case studies or other sources of data).



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