Question, Marketing Strategy, Search

The one question that could transform your marketing strategy

If your marketing teams don’t have visibility of each other’s objectives and actions, they may be effective within their own channels, but it’s likely that your overall marketing strategy isn’t as efficient as it could be. Asking just one question: “Can I ‘google’ this?” can change that. Here’s why.

Rarely has a single customer interaction lead to a sale. Depending on who you ask, it takes between 7 and 20+ touchpoints to convert a potential customer. Using every available channel to make that happen is not just common sense, it’s common practice. 

Just because all marketing channels are working, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re working together. 

Many marketing activities still work in silo—with limited visibility of the strategy or activities powering other channels. Insights are generated from within one medium, and again executed via it and it alone. 

That’s the brief, after all. Unfortunately, it often leads to unrealised opportunities. For example, when PPC and SEO don’t talk to each other, both teams may design separate landing pages to pursue a similar keyword set, duplicating content and competing for visibility in organic results. Or, if the editorial team creates a stunning offline publication but the SEO and newsletter teams don’t hear about it, the opportunity to repurpose that content for search or email marketing is lost. 

The ideal marketing strategy is run from a centralised and transparent hub. 

When all insights, from market intelligence to audience research, brand collateral and channel-specific data are centralised, it’s possible to design a digital marketing strategy that is aligned around core themes and activities and therefore easily adapted to channel-specific audiences and requirements. 

This approach also means that by design, all teams have visibility of the overarching strategy as well as the channel-specific activities that will bring it to life. Identifying opportunities for repurposing content, eliminating duplication of tasks and getting additional leverage out of campaigns. 

In reality, implementing this kind of “360 content” approach may require more transformation that your organisation can stomach at the time, especially where ways of working are deeply embedded and budgets are spread across different departments. 

Affecting incremental change is surprisingly simple. 

The good news is that you can start simply. By asking just this one question you can start to lay the foundations for optimising and leveraging media spend (and taking long-term ownership of valuable media assets): 

“Can this be found in search?” 

In other words, is this press release, Instagram campaign, magazine article etc. also “google-able”?

Why is this so impactful? 

Although nearly every platform offers a kind of bookmarking option, few people use them to save content they might want to recall later. Google Chrome has a “Reading List” function for saving web pages you might want to revisit later. Instagram gives users the option to create curated collections, the list goes on. All that “top content” ends up scattered across your entire digital ecosystem, making it necessary to remember both the message and the medium on which you’ve encountered it, in order to successfully recall it.

Then there’s the fact that we generally retain information in its broad conceptual state. That Instagram or Facebook ad? The magazine article? The passing product reference in a Tik Tok or YouTube video? Even the PPC ad that you almost clicked on but didn’t... We recall it in snippets: “It was about a decorator (Libby-something), using a peelable wallpaper swatch-type sticker (with animal print) in a hallway makeover”.

Later, we expect to be able to “look it up” in search, when we realise we quite fancy that pattern. We’ll use roughly those terms, maybe: “peelable wallpaper swatch animal print” and then might add “Libby decorator” when the results don’t deliver that exact content.

Google’s impressive natural language processing technology is (mostly) capable of deciphering these kinds of requests and mapping them to the correct content—but only if that content is online and makes a more compelling case for accuracy and relevance than any competition. Asking: “Can this be found in search?” will help to ensure that happens. 

Here are some examples of how that question can be put to work on different channels. 

How to ask “Can this be found?” on key channels

For PR activities

The brief: Your PR agency is running a campaign to create awareness around a new product line. It’s targeted at leaders of lifestyle magazines and commuter newspapers.

You could ask: Can someone who reads about this in a magazine or paper but forgets your brand name, search for just the product and the publication name and still find us online? For example “alcohol-free gin Stylist”. 

Potential actions: Create a blog post or other landing page on your website to showcase the press coverage, optimising it for the publication name and the generic name of the product. Ensure there are clear calls to action to link to the product page where it can be purchased. Or, temporarily optimise the product landing page for the product for the press mention: “as seen in Stylist”. 

Bonus points: Check your query to see whether anything else could potentially outrank your page -- a competitor distillery that was featured the week before, maybe? If so, rope in your PPC team to temporarily run a paid campaign and get to the top. 

Expected outcomes: Additional organic traffic to the blog landing page and a corresponding uptick in revenue for that product. 

For social media campaigns

The brief: Your social media team is running an influencer campaign, working with interior designers to style a new handmade ceramic range. 

You could ask: Will someone who searches for the influencer’s name and a generic term for our product, like “handmade ceramic vase” find our product? 

Potential actions: Create content on your website using the influencers’ images and content. This could be part of the agreed deliverables for the campaign. Create one article for each influencer, optimising for their name and generic terms describing your product. 

Influencers with blogs that have strong domain equity (check with your SEO team) could be  encouraged to create content for their own sites, linking out to your product(s). This may be more effective because the influencer’s own blog is likely to rank at the top for searchers for their name. 

Expected outcomes: Additional organic traffic to the articles on your site, as well as referral traffic from any influencer blogs, plus an increase in sales for those vases. 

For print content

The brief: Your company issues a luxury travel travel magazine twice a year, spotlighting destinations in which your hotels are based. The content ranges from what to pack, to cities’ best bars, low key activities for families… 

You could ask: Can our articles be rediscovered by searching for memorable parts of the content? Can someone search “low key family activities in Copenhagen” and get to us?

Potential actions: Get feature articles from the publication online and optimise them for those standout attributes. If nothing stands out, you might want to think about using search insights to give a fresh angle on 

Bonus points: Get any entities that are featured in the content to give a link or a mention. 

Expected outcome: Increased organic and referral traffic to your editorial content. 

Finding the “right” keywords for search

So just how do you identify the most appropriate search terms for optimising your content? If there was an obvious and simple way of doing this, it’s unlikely the SEO industry would be as substantial as it is now.

But, you can take a few heuristic shortcuts. Identify the common terms that are currently used in the content. Next, conduct a search for them. Are the results aligned with your content? Or does  it mean something different to what you’ve anticipated? Try out a few synonyms until you’ve found a good fit between the search results and your product or service. Take note of the “people also ask” content as a potential source of headings for when the content is structured on the site.

Also have a look at the image search results to see which related search terms are suggested at the top of the results. Are there terms you can incorporate?

Take it up a level by working directly with your SEO team

The above steps will put you on the right path. But it’s likely that you’ll get better results if you pull in your SEO team to give you an appraisal of popular vocabulary, searcher intent and competition. 

Do allow for two way communication and creative pushback by asking them to suggest the most efficient vocabulary to use in this campaign. Maybe a small slant in an article for the brand magazine both makes it more discoverable when the content is brought online, and helps to put a fresh spin on a tired topic. 

Expect more engagements to end on your site.

By embedding more of this search-thinking into your marketing, for example with a quick checklist of actions to take across all marketing channels and for most activities, you will increase engagement with your website and drive up enquiries and ultimately, sales. 

You’ll also proactively be building equity into your website, which will pay further dividends as your organic search profile continues to grow over time, boosting your overall return on content investment. 

If you'd like to discuss how we partner with companies to transform their content marketing, please get in touch via hello@matterofform.com to arrange a time to speak with our team of consultants.

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Published by Melissa Byleveld

Head of Search

Combining her experience in journalism, research, design and digital marketing, Melissa works with brands to create content strategies that work as well for website audiences as they do for search engines.