When Everybody Clicks: Sustainable Digital Marketing 

Copyright 2020

  • Lisa Williams

Chapter 4 - Be a Researcher - Honing your Craft


Organic search quickly is still the number one way people discover sites (Forrester Research 2014).

Keyword research was often one of the first foundational steps in the Organic Search Roadmap. It's a tedious but very important exercise in learning how people query for products, topics and needs. Google slowly began pulling keyword ranking analytics and data and has made "not provided" the rule rather than the exception to search queries.

That change has pushed search marketers to get smarter, more granular and more strategic about their keyword research and, more importantly, topic and category research. There has been great evolution in understanding searcher query and intention. We've gone from a simpler keyword query match to more complex, semantic search complemented by personalization.

The founder of Vertical Measures and author of "Accelerate!", Arnie Kuenne, shared what has become an often-used tool in the toolbox for topic research. He spoke about how, rather than execute only a keyword research exercise for a large property management company, he interviewed staff about their apartment hunting experiences.

This research led him to better understanding of the pain points associated with finding an apartment and was the cornerstone of the research that drove keyword and topic selection for content development as well as using that data to content map customer needs for his client.

This may seem like a simple step, but many brands rarely take the time to interview their sales reps, customer service staff and actual customers to truly understand the pain points and problems that a brand should be solving for their customers. Content mapping the typical questions in the customer journey is an enormously informative and often overlooked process for any brand.

The algorithm is now more sophisticated and needs less exact keyword matching in meta data and more semantic and topical signal.

Bruce Clay, Founder of Bruce Clay Inc, trainer and author works with top brands around the world. Bruce has literally "written the book" on search marketing. Yet he spends 2-3 hours a day, almost every day, reading and researching about the industry. Research is the lifeblood of his very pragmatic approach to knowing enough to help his team move quickly when things change in the space, but he also spends time researching organizational approaches so that the need to "move quickly and break things" doesn't foster a culture that lacks focus, "it's a delicate balance," he says.

Every time you want to learn something, understand the landscape of learning and dive deep into research to continue evolving digital marketing expertise, a craft that changes swiftly and often.

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