April 29, 2009
A good natural search strategy can pull traffic and revenue from searches for your top products, but a great one can capture even more through long-tail keywords that are super specific and lower-traffic. The best part? These terms don't have to be difficult to find.
Find out how a major candy brand leveraged its on-site search data to find long-tail opportunities in the engines. They’re seeing a 200% increase in revenue through Yahoo! natural search alone. Includes creative samples of their optimized pages.
Most ecommerce sites with a good search engine optimization strategy have their major high-volume keywords covered. They eventually move on to lower-volume long-tail keywords to drive more incremental traffic. You can uncover these long-tail keywords by doing some research in tools provided by the search engines, and you can look at the data from your website’s search tool.
That is the strategy that Jason Marrone, Ecommerce Marketing Manager, Jelly Belly, has implemented to boost revenue. Marrone’s team is using a system that will create a product category page for long-tail terms that are often searched for on Jelly Belly’s website. The category pages are search-engine-optimized for the term.
So far, they have created more than 500 of these pages – a task that would prove too hefty if the system were not automated. “It would take a lot of man power and resources to generate all these pages,” Marrone says. “It’s certainly easy enough to do it for the top 30 [on-site searches], but not hundreds.”
Find out how Marrone’s team leveraged insights from their on-site search tool to pull in more traffic and revenue from search engines -- 122% more revenue from Google’s natural results alone. Their lessons may make you consider taking another look at your on-site search data, and point you to ways you can use to start leveraging it.
Search Marketing Insights from On-Site Search
Step #1: Analyze site search data
First, determine the most popular product searches on your website that you are not already targeting with a search-optimized page. You can choose a test sample, such as the top ten, to get started, and expand the program if your efforts prove successful. Marrone’s team used a system that considered several factors, such as the search volume for a term and the frequency of that search resulting in a click.
Step #2: Check approximate search-engine traffic
If a high percentage of people are searching for a product on your site, then people are probably also searching for it in the major search engines. However, you should investigate to confirm that your assumption is correct, and gauge their potential impact.
You can make estimates through Google’s Insights for Search with the following steps:
1. Create a (free) Google account and sign in
2. Visit the Insights website
3. Enter the search term you want to estimate
4. Enter a search term you know the average traffic of
5. Click ‘search’
6. Find the percentage difference in the volume numbers returned for the two keywords. You can choose numbers for a specific month that you have historic data for, or the average that is returned.
7. Use that percentage to calculate an estimated volume for the search term you are investigating, based on the actual number of searches for the term for which you have historic data.
This investigation will help you determine whether the amount of search traffic for a given keyword is worth pursuing with a specific landing page.
Step #3: Create search-friendly landing pages
Create a relevant product category page for each term that you’ve selected, and link it to the term’s relevant products. For example, Jelly Belly had a “champagne bubbles” product category page. It listed two champagne-flavored candy products, showed their images, and linked to their pages (see creative samples below). Jelly Belly’s landing page for “licorice jelly beans” featured 12 products that included the black beans, and linked to a second results page with seven more products.
o Other page elements
These pages had numerous internal links, including:
-Links to the homepage, ecommerce area, and customer accounts
-A link to a page that lists articles related to the page’s keyword
-Links to related product category pages, such as “search suggestions” and “business gifts”
-Image links to suggested products
o Update pages
The products and the ordering of the products, listed on these pages, regularly changed as searches were conducted on Jelly Belly’s website. By looking at search, click, and purchase behavior, the system dynamically changed a page’s products and links to be more relevant to its keyword.
o Tied to site searches
Marrone’s team also tied these landing pages to searches conducted on Jelly Belly’s website. So these pages did double duty: being shown in search engines and in Jelly Belly’s onsite search tool.
Step #4: Compare performance to similar efforts
To accurately compare the success of this program to your other marketing efforts, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
o Jelly Belly: Compared to paid search
As mentioned above, Marrone’s team has this process automated; they outsource the task to a provider. They have created more than 500 of these pages. “It would take a lot of manpower and resources to generate all these pages,” Marrone says.
The team pays the provider each time a searcher clicks to visit one of these pages. Hence, Marrone considers this system to be another form of paid-search advertising. The pages are regular static Web pages that search engines spider and index. But the provider charges Jelly Belly each time a searcher clicks on one of the pages in a search engine.
Comparing it to Jelly Belly’s paid search efforts, Marrone says it’s “equal to, and if not better than, search engine advertising.”
These pages achieve a 6.43% conversion rate on average, Marrone says. Compared to the 3.45% average conversion rate he sees through Google AdWords -- an 86.38% difference -- he considers the program to be a success. Also, Jelly Belly’s revenue, driven through natural search, has increased about 122% in Google and about 200% in Yahoo!.
o Other marketers: Compare to natural search
For marketers who are interested in following this strategy without the assistance of a provider, gauging your program’s performance would be most accurate by comparing it to your previous natural-search results. It would be more accurate to compare how much traffic and revenue the new pages pull in, compared to your other natural search landing pages, and how much overall revenue and traffic has increased.
Links related to this article:
Jelly Belly Product Category Pages
SLI Systems: Created the landing page system