When you set out to write some commercial content for your website, the first thing you are told to do (at best) is conduct some keyword research and identify what people are looking for vs what you can offer. You use keyword tools like Google Adwords to find the average search volume for groups of keywords –and even Google is now giving less accurate figures for this –which is a push approach, a sampled and inaccurate interpretation of reality.
In addition, Google Analytics used to tell you what keywords people were typing before arriving to your website but now they only give you a sample of them, and too many ‘not provided’ ones.
If you don’t spend lots of time doing ground research before writing your content, you might find yourself writing landing pages that are not relevant to what your audience is looking for, and thus not being able to attract them effectively.
Yet Content marketing has mushroomed in the past two years; there are millions of tools, tactics and articles about how to create high quality content and measure its performance. It gets as complicated and expensive as you want, and you can easily fall into the trap you are always missing out on data or better ways of doing it.
At least I do sometimes get that guilt of missing out; but then I say, the hell with it, creativity is all about thriving with scarce resources, and though information is abundant, the one your brain is able to process is scarce (due to time).
An answer is within
Before spending time and money on content marketing research, you can get useful insights from your current website performance metrics.
Two weeks ago I was in Thailand, where I was astonished by the gorgeous karst peaks across the South of the country. Karst formations are a result of rain water reacting with the chemicals of the very rock and eroding it in unusual ways. The rock themselves have the information to shape themselves within.
Your website ca get inspired by this; it has performance data that can shape it with the help of an external aid (you!).
So you just need to know what to look for and how to find the data. The good news is the solution I’m giving you uses just two basic tools and the ball of mucus you have over your shoulders, which by the way, are all free.
First and foremost, what is a landing page?
A landing page is a page on your website people use to enter your website from. Search engines might serve your landing page if it is clearly relevant to the query a user types in. In this sense, landing pages allow you to target specific search intents, remove the clutter form your homepage and narrow your focus.
Did I mention relevancy?
yes I did!
You need to lay the red carpet to your target audience. I tell you, they are spoiled like cat cafe cats. Just like me, they fear missing out on the right information, and as long as they don’t find what they are looking for, they will click around and type like maniacs and silently leave the room, no farewell.
We underestimate how irritating is for people to click around on things. They are craving for a syringe that gives them the information they need. Don’t you crave the same? think about it.
In this context, A keyword itself does not give you the necessary information of what people want. Yet we marketers used to create a landing page for every keyword. Google was way dumber that it is now so it would believe that your landing page for ‘women’s horse saddles’ and your other landing page for ‘ladies horse saddles’ were offering unique content. As it is natural, Google got tired of wasting their time reading copied pages and they developed a machine that understands the meaning of keywords beyond their face value.
You need to start thinking in terms of intents and needs. You also should differentiate between homepage and the landing page. The homepage is the main hall of your happy hotel, and your landing pages are other hotel services such as spa, gym and restaurant.
How to identify landing page opportunities
1. Untap Google Search Console
I remember when I started in SEO, Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) was a slightly esoteric tool and apparently reserved to the realm of the Googlers or Technical SEO freaks. I have found out most of marketers do not feel incredibly comfortable with this tool, yet it gives you amazing data you can exploit to your benefit.
In time I realised how awesome this tool is, and for most of my accounts, it is because of Search Console that I stopped using inaccurate and clunky ranking tools (most of them anyway).
In Search Console, go to
search traffic>search analytics>
Tick on the queries report and you want to be just looking at impressions. These are the number of times your website has appeared in front of the eyes of people on search results for the search queries shown.
Sort Impressions from high to low.
Go through the list.
No based on your knowledge of your market and your industry, do you see any query that might embody an intent you currently don’t have a landing page for? I’ll leave you to think.
In my website, I did the same exercise and I noticed I have impressions for the query ‘SEO health check’, for which I do not have an optimised landing page. Based on my ‘off the top of my head’ knowledge I can assume people are looking for tools to have a quick scan and see if their SEO consultant is taking a piss or not.
What I will do is do a little more research on what people mean by that query and potentially offer a tool or a quick service to give people that information.
2. Getting help from our old friend Google Analytics
Go to Behaviour>landing pages report
Anal..yse bounce rate of landing pages. Are there any unusually high bounce rates –you can use over 50% as a rule of thumb– in landing pages?
This means that people leave your site immediately after arriving to your landing page.
If your landing page is a blog post without a specific call to action, then it should not matter that much, but if you are expecting the user to visit other pages after that.
It means it was not relevant enough, people where looking for something else and go elsewhere to get satisfied. What that might be? should you change the content of that page and make it more relevant?
you want to keep bounce rates low, and could do that by rethinking the landing page and adjusting it to the issues your users are looking to solve.
But wait a minute, because it can also mean that they are comparing and contrasting with other offers and competitors.
So you want to be also looking at conversion rates.
Check conversion rates in Google Analytics (first set up your goals)
It might be they are leaving because they don’t trust you or they don’t find the necessary content they before the purchase.
For the first problem, you want to have as much social proof as possible, but this post is not about conversion rate optimisation, you should read this instead.
The second problem can be solved with content creation and improvement. For example, writing guides and producing videos addressing the problems users might have.
For example, car lease specialist Nationwide Vehicle contracts have done a really good job in creating guides and supporting information to assist the purchasing process, giving the user all the necessary information to lease a car.
As I said, you can simply find landing page opportunities with easy and free tools that you most likely have already set up. You can always use fancy models, tools and spreadsheet full of data but I am very concerned about your available time, and just going through search console and Google analytics (and using your brain a little) bit can help you get great ideas for more converting traffic.
But make sure that you write those landing pages and they don’t get forgotten in the abyss of your to dos.
Do you know other ways to finding insights from your website performance data?
Please share below!