Organic search traffic: Conversion, not position

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Every day, millions of people type keywords into a search engine, follow a link and land on a marketer's Web site. Most people will think I'm talking about pay-per-click campaigns, but did you know that 87 percent of commercial traffic comes from organic search? Though the majority of consumers come to your site from an organic search link, few marketers create a strategic organic search program. Last year, marketers spent eight times more money on paid search than they did on organic search. In essence, marketers spent nearly $6 billion on a minority of their search traffic while they nearly ignored the majority.

So far, most marketers who have taken on an organic search campaign view the strategy as quantity - they write content with a bunch of keywords and links on their site and hope crawlers rank it as high as possible. Improving these campaigns typically means boosting their site's position in the rankings, instead of focusing on converting visitors who come from organic search links. But is this the right strategy?

By implementing a few practical tips, any marketer can boost conversion from organic search, which long has trailed paid search in conversion rates. My Wedding Favors, for example, saw an overall conversion lift of 65 percent by using a strategy to segment incoming organic traffic into nine distinct visitor groups on www.myweddingfavors.com.

To start, determine the key visitor groups to target. The advantage of doing this with search traffic is that visitor queries contain self-described indications of their needs. Best practice would say that you should create visitor groups based upon similar needs. For example, people who use "discount" or "cheap" as a descriptor to their search would tend to be price sensitive, whereas others who use your brand name in their search may indicate that they know about your business and are looking to see why your brand is a good consideration for their purchase.

After you determine these groups, and their key messages, write content that speaks to their needs. With organic search, you don't have a lot of flexibility to direct traffic to different pages within your site. Instead, you either must include these messages in your existing content or learn how to dynamically add targeted messages in real time.

Using the examples above, the price-conscious visitor group may want to hear about your free shipping offers and coupons, but the brand visitor group would want to know more about your value proposition, offering and customer testimonials.

Instead of building targeted pages and promotions based on certain products, think of the wants and needs of each group, which often transcend product categories. It's also important to note that, typically, it's safest to use image sections of the page when considering a dynamic targeting solution, as search engines may be concerned about you changing the physical page text. In conclusion, the volume of traffic is an important metric for any business, but in the end it's all about converting that traffic. Learn whom your visitors are, target content to their needs, not just the needs of a search engine, and build your business through improving the relevance of the content on your site. Organic search is a very important source of traffic - use it wisely.

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