MN Search – Understanding and Leveraging the Language of Your Customers

Fantastic event!  The format of three presentations addressing a topic from the perspective of three different disciplines is absolutely excellent!  My biggest discovery was the application of keyword research to the buyer’s journey – it makes sense.


As we are familiar with defining personas, clarifying the stages of the buyer’s journey for a company, finding the questions that are asked during each stage for each persona, and trying to understand what kind of content will be more appropriate, adding keyword research into the same schema makes so much sense!

Chrissi Reimer pointed out to a MOZ article that explains the switch to this approach from a standard keyword research concentrating at the top of the funnel.


In place of simply “traffic plus conversion”, the value of search becomes “awareness + branding + list building + traffic + conversion + competitive wins + reducing support costs + upsell, cross-sell, and customer success,” justifying both more investment and a much larger organizational impact…

Interesting, at the awareness, or “recognize the problem” in my example, the objective is to bring the audience to the site and entice them to opt into a some form of “permission marketing” that give the company future marketing opportunity.  The email is considered the best, social media is less effective, and re-targeting even less effective.  (Maybe I was not the only one who did not see enough conversion from re-targeting…  but it does not require the prospect to do anything beyond visiting the web site… 🙂 )

Keyword research for a content strategy will be topical, less specific.  However, content calendar will be more specific.  Editorial calendar should have personas, keywords, and URLs.  In some cases, it would make sense to create dedicated landing pages for certain steps of buyer’s journey – based on the keyword research (topics that have high enough volume and low enough competition).

contentAnd now… content.

Keyword is an idea.   Keywords is not something to “sprinkle” on already existing content; keywords are ideas that can be a base for content creation.

Document you idea for the content and determine your content KPI.  You might find too much traffic and not enough conversion at the awareness phase.

Time required to research what content needs to be created can exceed time dedicated to content creation. 

An interesting PPC tip: there could be regional variation in keywords used – even within the US.  For example, Eastern states and Midwestern states can use different terminology for specific consumer items (fresh water terminology for fishing in Midwest, and marine terminology in the East).  This difference can apply to the products or solutions company offers and should be considered in PPC campaigns.


SEO and Mobile Web Search

searchIt was a pleasure to be part of the group with very clear understanding of business objective – the revenue!  SEO to generate “traffic” – what is the point?  Connection of SEO to the revenue – and measuring the success of the effort in the terms of revenue – this is the purpose of it all…. 🙂

Organic traffic is the highest converting traffic from the panel of entrepreneurs’ view – and it could be very profitable.

Interesting: adding a price into the paid ad reduces the number of “tire kickers” – but can also lower the quality score (lower CTR in general…   even if the conversion of the landing page might be higher).

Major retailer’s e-commerce conversion rate is less than 3%. Actually, it is higher than I thought..

black-hatBad news for Black Hats – it is very hard to fake legitimacy now…  so Black Hats are starting to develop legitimate web properties and good quality content.

Very interesting: even in B-to-C, even in the “era of mobile,” the desktop traffic is still more profitable.  I saw it in B-to-B, but did not expect in B-to-C.  Maybe – mobile is more profitable for entertaining content publishers with advertisement business model…  However, those people who click on the ads from mobile devices are less likely to buy.  Mobile phones might just become an “addition” to desktop rather than its possible replacement.

Mobile local traffic for local services converts very well – people are looking for plumbers, hair salons, etc.

Another point of view: engagement might be more important for e-commerce, as over 95% won’t buy initially, and engagement would encourage them to come back.

MN Search – Local SEO and PPC


Focus on highest pay-off activities!

reviewsGoogle+ click-through rate is a significant ranking factor.  Google Reviews are very important – they are not only contribute to the ranking in the search results, but also make the search result more attractive for the consumer, particularly when competing companies do not have reviews.

Make a page for each service.  For example, a dentist can have a specific page for each service rather than one services page.  It will also help with PPC, as each page can be used as a landing page for a specific service offering.

Use “lazy links” – BBB lets you pick a page for a link – good for linking to a page deep in the site, what can help this particular page to have better exposure in search engines.

Another lazy link is sponsorship of a meetup group.



Creating a page for a specific location will help with ranking for this specific location, and will also helps to get business for the specific location.  Examples of work in the location, such as landscaping, etc., or any other types of “portfolio,” can be beneficial for search and help with conversion.

Create an epic FAQ page (people would need to click on the link to see the answer) – and study what questions are the most popular.

Keyword research with Google Suggest for SEO or PPC


For PPC, bidding on “review” terms will save money and will assure that the people who search for the term are further down the sales cycle.

No matter what you do…  you still may not rank.  😦   Use PPC.


Use Bing (much cheaper PPC bids) as a laboratory and when a successful and profitable term is found, use it in Google.

Mark testimonials on your site with schema.  Promote an opportunity to provide a testimonial as much as possible; provide anonymous options (possible on some sites) for private topics (divorce, bankruptcy, etc.).

Experiment fearlessly!

MN Search – SERPS Insights

niftyVery insightful presentation – as usually.  One of the most reassuring points is a recommendation to do our own research rather than jumping on the best practices of the industry.  Best practices may not quite work as they are promoted, or not quite work in your industry.  Best practices may not quite work in your particular competitive environment, even if they might be beneficial in your industry.

question-everythingAnother interesting point is prevalence of SPAM in some industries, and the knowledge that SPAM does work.  In some cases SPAM can result in the banning of the site, and if it happens, the site can be restored in a few months (with loss of the position).  However, the business benefit that SPAM can bring to the organization before the site is banned, could be valuable enough that business in some industries chose to engage in SPAM.  In some cases, the loss of activity after the ban occurred and site is restored is relatively small (one penalized company saw 10% decrease in leads).


Mike Ramsey researched the search activity of legal industry (his concentration), and discovered that local search was not as popular as expected. screenshot-desctio

Interestingly enough, the mobile local search (what the event audience expected to be very popular), performed even worse.


In some cases, Paid outperformed Organic, and not only Local.

Recent discovery in the community (“mechanical Turk” method) – clicks influence ranking…  most likely, this algorithm will be changed quickly now to prevent abuse.

Interesting – large companies may not need to invest so much efforts (or resort to SPAM) because of significant brand equity they already have.  Ah – but large companies are typically compete with other large companies 😉

Is creating good content enough?  You might be missing traditional techniques, particularly in local.

Local search marketer’s dilemma:

If I report on ROI, I will need to “play dirty” in some competitive industries.  If I report on Traffic, some of traffic will not bring ROI.

Mike is starting to see “smarter spam.”

We are creating marketing content at a rate that soon there will be more content that can be consumed.

AttributionMarketers need to get better on Analytics and Attribution (ah, yes, completely understandable – marketers seem to make significant efforts, but the time required for the true mastery is rather significant).   T-shaped Web Marketer has been mentioned again 🙂

Tools: (usability tool)  (Backlink tool – has a free trial) (Digital Marketing competitive tool – has a free trial)


MN Search – Link Building

linkThis event happened to be more interesting than I expected (and less technical  than I feared).  Another interesting aspect – everything starts and ends with the content marketing.  Though it probably should be considered as a fact of life rather than anything to ponder.

A few notes from the event:

  • Conversions of SEO and PR “Not only ink, but also links.”  Why is it happening?  The objective is the same – reaching out and getting attention.  The main problem is that PR KPIs are not links…
  • Example of “co-marketing”: to appeal to an important industry publication (Mashable) three companies got together and ask the publication: “We are ready to cooperate to produce exclusive content for you – what content would you like?”
  • “Guest Posting” became “Contributor Journalism” – if you are a good writer, write one piece of content per week.  Find publications with contributing model, to get access to CMS (Forbs and Huffington Post are these types of publications).
  • Interesting point about what constitutes best content: an intersection of content that is interesting for the target audience and content that is interesting for the publication.  Usually, the most known value of content is the intersection between the target audience interest and company’s needs (company’s website); the content targeted to the publication is “matched” similarly to the publication.


  • Find what resonates with the audience


  • Another name for the aligning content to the stages of the buying cycle “message map”
  • HubSpot mentioned that significant portion of the content that is accessed on its site is over 6 months old
  • Content mismatch case study: an interactive “tool” has been produced “What career is right for me?”  The tool was interesting for the users, but the media did not want to link to it… Publications do not want to link to a “tool” – they want to link to the “data.”  The tool has been transformed to a more simple data-rich material, and became more popular as a link bait.
  • Paid matters!  
    • Retargeting (to keep the brand top of mind)
    • If you want to target writers in a specific publication and “encourage” them to find and notice your content, you can buy Facebook ads to target writers in this specific publication.
    • However, you can buy the eyeballs, but it is the quality of the content that will make the difference.

And a cute picture from Clear Voice Pinterest collection that is appropriate for both PR and SEO is below 😉


SEO Meetup – MN Search Summit Debrief


The office building where the event met had the most spectacular view!

A few notes from the sessions I missed during the conference:

  • Local Search: important to have at least 5 reviews with Google
  • Local Search: Yelp reviews matter only if the person is the active member of the community (well-meaning uncle who is not using Yelp won’t be as helpful 😉
  • Link Building: anything you can scale easily does not work
  • Link Building: avoid over-optimizing anchor text
  • Link Building: getting links is similar to sales job – industry is moving to paying commission on acquired links



Content editorial calendar template – year view and month view – Free, Excel



SEO Meetup

SEOJeannie Hill gave an excellent presentation with many useful tips and ideas to ponder.

Jeannie made a very interesting point – in the large companies (where I like to work 🙂 ) approvals for SEO projects might take months.  As the industry moves faster than a corporate paper trail speed, too much changes from the time of the project conception to the moment when it can be executed.  Marketing environment, algorithms, best practices, etc. change, and the project might need to be changed to be effective.

As Google no longer show keywords…  it might not be as bad as marketers feel… With hummingbird changes and intense personalization, the keywords from the report may no longer make sense even if they would be available. 

Jeannie likes Moz Fresh alerts and uses the tool for her work.  she admits spending 2 hours a day to studying of “what happened while I slept…”

structuredSchema metadata is changing, useful to update.  Authorship is important and can help in your niche.

SEO-driven content:

  • write what is unique
  • write what is special
  • what people understand in your niche
  • use “things” versus “strings”

Search tips can change based on the user’s previous behavior; Jeannie recommended to check in different browsers – oh, yes, very different!!

In general, we need to try to satisfy our users and help Google to satisfy its customers.

If you do something that helps us to do our job, we will reward you for it

Google on structured data

Snack offered during the event was remarkably tasty 😉