With the rise of social and mobile, the Internet is rapidly evolving into an integrated multi-dimensional platform facilitating many of our daily transactions and interactions. Never is this trend more evident than on a major holiday such as Valentine’s Day. Last year alone, according to National Retail Federation, American’s spent over $19B on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is now No. 2 behind Christmas as the year’s premier gift-giving holiday. Those who celebrate Valentine’s Day are marking the occasion by exchanging tokens of their affection with a widening circle of friends and family members including their children, parents, and pets.
Each year women anxiously await flowers, chocolates, jewelry and romantic dinner plans from their significant other to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But what they don’t know are the details and preparation that go on behind the scenes, to make Valentine’s Day a romantic, love-filled special day.
As a SEO Strategist at CRI, I’ve had the opportunity to watch Valentine’s trends for search queries being used to help make current or future Valentine’s Day preparations smooth and easy, making it an enjoyable day for not only the gift recipient, but the buyer as well!
As you scurry to buy your Valentine’s Day gifts, here are a few Valentine’s Day queries that may save you some time and money.
Q: Flower prices skyrocket during this holiday; how can you save a few bucks and still produce an awe-striking bouquet?
A: Users were looking for the best deal to get their loved ones’ flowers. Using the following Search Queries:
flower delivery coupon; flower delivery free shipping; flower delivery promo code
Q: Want to outdo your past Valentine’s Days and make this one extra special?
A: The simplest word can change your results. Users are using “best” to maximize their search results.
Q: You and your loved one have a sweet tooth? What sweet treats are being sent your way?
A: 1.5 M users were more interested in finding a way to get chocolates delivered to their Valentines than Cookies or Candies.
Q: It’s been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. What are searchers planning?
A: 4M users are looking to plan a romantic dinner with their special someone, whether it’s to cook themselves or a nice restaurant.
Not only is it a day for couples, but singles are also looking to pamper and celebrate the love they for themselves.
Q: Treating yourself to a special Valentine’s Day and looking for things to do? You’re not alone!
A: Don’t be discouraged to spend Valentine’s Day alone, there are 20.3M other users who are also looking to spend Valentine’s Day single and looking to pamper themselves.
So do whatever your heart desires this February 14th; buy roses on the cheap, dine out, indulge in some chocolate, or be a bit more unconventional and find a way to pamper yourself.
Interested in learning about additional industry trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
Data Capture Tips for Digital Marketers
The Google Ad 4-Pack and Organic User Intent
As SEOs, we’re used to Google changing things up on us on the fly. Google’s most recent search algorithm update makes it clear that the way to the top of Page 1 is a total focus on your user and their intent.
SEOs for years have cited industry-standard click-through rates based on the position on a search engine results page (SERP).
Organic click-through rates for searches coming from 1,708,342 keywords for 48,280 websites.
Recently, however, Google increased the number of ads displayed at the top of a SERP. It is now up to SEOs to find a way to maintain organic traffic to our sites as we lose even more real estate on Page 1 SERPs. Here’s how CRI has done just that.
AdWords’ Manifest Destiny Approach to SERPs
Click-through rates—even for the #1 overall position in an organic search—will be lower than previously. Users may not care that they’re clicking on an ad. This is especially true for branded searches, where the user may pause only to make sure the link they’re about to click belongs to the brand they searched.
In effect, we’re dealing with a new normal—where organic as a channel is able to claim a smaller share of the overall traffic mix.
But there is hope! The expanded ad pack is visible on simple keyword searches. A branded search, or a top-of-funnel search, will likely return multiple ads at the top of the SERP. To see organic search results uncolored by the expanded reach of PPC, requires you move down funnel, to the targeted searches typical of a user who’s well into their purchasing decision.
Long-tail keywords: A New Hope
Google encourages SEOs and digital marketers to focus on meeting the information needs and expectations of their users. This focus on search intent has often been yada yada-ed by marketers to read as, “Well you obviously need to start with great content that your users want to engage with.”
Advising our clients to focus only on producing great content would be missing the point. What Google is really telling SEOs with these most recent changes to their SERPs is that a focus on long-tail keywords based on user intent is no longer an option, but a requirement. This leads to a three-step process to ensure your SEO and content strategy are working together to achieve results:
Step 1: Identify high-volume keyword ‘slugs’. Traditional keyword research will continue to play a role in effective SEO. But going forward, identifying and optimizing around high-volume keywords will occur as a byproduct of an increased emphasis on user intent, and won’t be itself an end goal.
Step 2: Understand the problem your product solves. The surest way to incorporate your high-volume keywords into relevant long-tail keyphrases is to contextualize those terms to the problems your potential customers are trying to solve. So, while your desired keyword might be, say, “charity donation”, knowing that donation efficiency is the top consideration for a significant cohort of your donors will help you identify and build out a matrix of relevant long-tail keyphrases that incorporate that keyword ‘slug’.
Step 3: Craft your keyphrase strategy to incorporate your slugs into natural language queries. Knowing your target demographics primary concerns will inform the long-tail keyphrases you target. Continuing the example from Step 2, you might optimize around, say, “best charity to donate to for [x]”, or “most efficient charity to donate to”—queries that give weight to the objections, concerns and interests your target users may hold.
A More Robust Keyphrase Strategy for the New Search Landscape
In recent months, CRI has worked with clients to develop new keyphrase strategies. It might seem like a small bit of semantic gymnastics, but the migration from keywords to keyphrases—in other words, to long-tail keywords—has allowed us to make more elegant and effective recommendations that better understand and speak to our clients’ target customers.
Implementing our updated SEO strategy has baked in a user focus to our SEO strategy that is already benefiting our clients in the form of increased search visibility and more—and more qualified—traffic.
Interested in learning more about SEO and content marketing? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
How Does the New Google Ad Layout Impact SEO?
Finding Trends in Your Bounce Rates
Want more information? Get more details on Charles River Interactive’s SEO service offerings or contact us today.
Stakeholders are a necessary component of nearly every content project. Without their unique perspectives, even the most talented writers and strategists would fall short of creating the best, most customized product possible.
As a result, they are incredibly important and impactful players– and not only because of their unmatched expertise and invaluable feedback. Stakeholders have the ability to:
- Delay or halt projects
- Change direction or process
- Impact budget or scope
- Approve the final product or …
- Send everything back to the drawing board
You can’t live them, and you can’t live without them. That’s why all marketers should follow this advice: When it comes to stakeholders, handle with care.
Common Stakeholder Problems
Whether you are a client working with internal stakeholders or a marketer who regularly manages them, the challenges are the same. You may have encountered setbacks or challenges from any of these common personalities:
The Break Pad: These stakeholders have jam-packed schedules and may be repeat “no-shows” for interviews. They sit on content for weeks past deadline, holding the review process hostage. It’s a common situation because the most valuable stakeholders often hold very senior positions and are legitimately busy.
The Charlie Brown: Everybody on the project wants these people to weigh in, but they do not understand their value. Interviews are challenging because they don’t provide clear, direct answers or often defer to other people, who may or may not be stakeholders. As a result, their feedback is light on the key details you need.
The Expert: While all stakeholders are experts in their areas, this stakeholder is also an expert in your job – whether it’s writing content, developing an SEO strategy or designing a webpage. It may be hard to convince this stakeholder of well-accepted industry best practices if he or she disagrees. Prepare for intense edits and feedback.
The Monday Morning Quarterback: The no. 1 reason for project delays? Either the Charlie Brown or The Expert can morph into this stakeholder in the final stages. They see the first draft and disagree with its direction, possibly even contradicting their own input. Be aware: It’s very common for stakeholders to change their mind or be surprised when they see their words spun into something more tangible like a webpage or blog.
Best Practices for Managing Stakeholder Relationships
The best way to work with stakeholders is a very proactive approach. We have compiled our best practices for interviewing and managing stakeholders to help avoid those frustrating project delays and setbacks:
Establish a clear process from Day 1: Put yourself in the uninformed stakeholder’s shoes: They do an interview with you or your team, you disappear for weeks, then re-emerge with a sudden need for feedback and approval at a time that may not be convenient. You would be annoyed, too, right? Take a few minutes during your stakeholder call to walk them through the process, timeline and what you will need from them so they are prepared.
Don’t be afraid to over-prepare: If you want to get the most out of your stakeholder interview, do not show up as a blank slate. Do your homework by researching as much as you can about the subject matter, client, competitors and even the stakeholder ahead of the interview. Asking basic questions is the best way to waste an interview. Instead, use your time to delve deeper and get into messaging, differentiators and help with more complex topics.
Communicate key dates and repeat, repeat, repeat: Stakeholders are very busy. They will quickly scan your email, so make it easy for them: Clearly state your time frame in bold font. At your interview, remind them at the start and end when they will receive a draft for review. Follow up with an email reminding them of this date and how much time they will have for feedback. Send reminders ahead of the deadline.
Avoid sending a list of questions in advance: It may sound counterintuitive. But if you want the most out of your discussion, don’t fence yourself in with a script. When given a list of questions, stakeholders tend to offer stiff, careful answers. You miss out on the rich details that a more organic conversation can uncover. Instead, provide an overview of topics and write a few short sentences describing your goals for the interview.
Control the review process: Lay the groundwork for a clear review process before scheduling the first stakeholder call. If you are working with multiple stakeholders, it’s a good idea to establish the following:
- Which stakeholders need to review/approve the final product, and whether anyone’s feedback is more authoritative or should be last
- How many rounds of revisions are included within project scope
- Whether stakeholders are editing for content, accuracy, messaging, or all of the above
- A process for ensuring consolidated feedback so you don’t get back conflicting feedback and direction
- A clear timeline and how feedback delays will affect project completion
Interested in learning more about content marketing? Check out Charles River Interactive’s blog View from the Charles:
7 Email Marketing Best Practices
How to Write Strategic Calls to Action
5 Tips for Writing for Mobile