There are many analytics approaches and tools aimed at this topic, from understanding audience content consumption so that you can create an initial content strategy to optimizing specific content and messaging in the wild. We need to identify the specific ways in which search analytics can support content development for any digital marketing initiative:
• Choosing paid advertising messaging (search engine marketing)— Paid search campaigns are simply advertising links to brand content, based on relevant searches. There are many tools available to uncover the most popular searches and thus the critical search terms associated with them, which yield more consumer searches converting into visits to your site or consuming your content.
• Choosing natural search messaging (search engine optimization)— Natural, or organic, search is still a continuous effort for which every marketer needs to plan. Being found naturally, without assistance from paid advertising, is one of the most difficult problems for marketers to stay on top of. Doing so is part art, part science. It’s not just about having the most relevant keywords woven throughout your brand content. You also have to include key variables that search engine algorithms consider, such as link building, and consider local search optimization. Fortunately, there are many tools to help with this, both free and paid.
• Identifying and choosing brand associations— Branding used to be unrelated to discovery. Specifically, optimizing for discovery and external brand communications weren’t integrated such that both contributed to a common goal and/or objective. In many instances, they actually work against each other. Consider that the content (for example, keywords, tagging, and links) a brand publishes has a direct effect on the likelihood that it will be discovered. Failure to connect these two initiatives results in a gigantic missed opportunity. Most brands still treat branding as being unrelated to discovery. However, that’s changed, and it won’t ever be the same again. In an effort to add more relevance and cater to brands, Google started emphasizing the importance of branding in its search results in 2011. Similarly to how the Brand Tags project creates associations between consumer sentiment about the brands they do business with, there are search tools that allow marketers to understand how they should position their product(s) or service(s) against competitors, based on how consumers view them and search for them.
• Identifying trends and seasonal changes— Consumer behavior— specifically how people search and what they search for—isn’t consistent year round; it changes over time. Interest in specific topics or categories picks up and peaks at different times throughout the year. Understanding these trends and, more specifically, what they look like in your industry or for your product category, can be gleaned by using search tools. And you don’t have to limit your investigation to your company or product. Because search data is freely available, you can learn about your competitors as well, and you can use the knowledge you gain to make more informed decisions about appropriate allocation of resources, whether that’s paid advertising dollars or internal resources associated with content development, social media support, or publishing efforts.
• Supporting new product/market launches— Whether you’re launching a new product in an unknown category or expanding an existing product into a new market, search analysis can provide insights that lead to an understanding of nuances. For example, a new market might place greater emphasis on a specific product attribute that hasn’t played a big role in its traditional market. How consumers in different markets search can reveal key differences in product or category attributes across various geographies and can help marketers gain a sense of where interest is greatest for individual product attributes. This enables you to tailor market-level messaging for paid advertising, brand content, and social media publishing to the nuances and needs of each market.
• Brand audits— Audits provide helpful summaries of how consumers currently think, feel, share, and act toward a brand in digital channels. Agencies frequently conduct brand audits to inform advertising campaigns, product launches, and development of digital strategies. How consumers search about a brand and what keywords they associate with a brand is important when planning any of the aforementioned initiatives. The tools described later in this chapter provide marketers the ability to perform these audit.