When building a new startup, you initially see search marketing boom year over year. Inevitably, you'll expect the same growth curve or, at minimum, more growth each successive year.
Here's one of the toughest challenges entrepreneurs face, in particular when taking a company public: slower growth in high-volume, quality traffic from search engines. It's the same challenge public companies that have strong online divisions face.
The solution to reverse the trend in slow growth? Admit you have a problem.
Hit the Wall?
No one wants to admit their search campaigns may have hit a wall. No one wants to think maybe their competitors' campaigns are still growing fast while theirs are not.
How does your business cope with not growing as fast as before? Can one simply say, "well we're just not going to grow as fast as before"?
In most cases, Wall Street doesn't want to hear the words "slow" and "growth" side-by-side. The street will respond in a negative way.
Hit the Long Tail
So what other alternatives exist to keep driving your business forward? The talk of the industry is "hit the long tail." you may think you've done everything you can to be effective.
Are you really sure you have taken every step to build your keyword tail?
Proximity and KPI data
Are you ranking your products and or services based upon the popularity of each given page? If you have a conversion KPI (Key Performance Indicator), make sure you're using this data to rank your products to ensure top products appear close enough to the home page for maximum rankings. Search engines like Google use proximity from the home page to ensure pages qualify as important and authoritative.
Keeping products more than seven clicks away can have serious implications with search engine rankings. If your tail is just way too big to manage, consider offering multiple ways to get to the same products. This can be handled by just understanding where these products belong.
Clustering and Multiple Attributes
Cluster products together based upon either common factors or multiple attributes. Some of these common attributes can be size, shape, features, price points, and/or up sells for compatible parts. Electronics and computer components make ideal candidates for clustering since they tend to be cross compatible and easy to group with manufacturer data.
Site Search Keywords and Phrases
Make sure your enterprise search engine is properly tuned to store the exact search terms people are using on your site. Then keep the exact results of data related to search terms. This data can be associated to groups of products further down the line and appropriate content can be altered or categorized to increase your natural search tail.
When expanding keywords this way, you can associate an average of 15 key phrases with a given product. That may increase your tail size by 15 percent. When you expand keywords by a modest 15 percent for a site that has millions of products, the increase in total keyword listings can be quite substantial. Massive numbers of keywords can really improve your numbers.
Category Search Attributes
If you take this logic a few steps further, grouping attributes based on category search information is possible as well. You can associate more keywords that may belong to major categories and increase the value of each result almost exponentially.
Increase the size of your keyword tail. Your extremely tough growth requirements must keep moving forward. Don't give up. Keep looking at the data. Be sure to use any and all relevant clickstream data to continuously improve your revenue and profits.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!