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Improve your content for website search

Most of my clients want their website search to work–they really do. But they aren’t sure how to get all the folks who create the content all over their organization to do it right. There is a simple organizational method to improvement–one that you’ve probably applied other places–that you can use to get an organization to work together to make website search work.

You get what you measure.

You’ve probably heard that quote before, but how does it apply to website search? If you create the measurements around the right things, you’ll create an incentive for good behavior that can improve website search. Your scorecard should reward the measurements that indicate success–higher volume of searches, fewer searches that yield no results, more search results that get clicked, fewer searches that bounce back to the search result page, and more searches that result in conversions.

You can calculate all of those numbers, but just running the calculations won’t be enough. If you announce to everyone that 23% of our searches get no results, they will say, “Aw, what a shame,” but it won’t make them do anything.

If you take it one step further, you will get action. If you announce that 22% of searches for Product A get no results, but 24% of Product B’s searches get no results, now the competition is on. If you go even further and announce that you are expecting that all product groups get their percentage of no-result searches under 20% by the end of the year, well, now you are cooking. I guarantee you that if you put some teeth in that announcement–such as execs get higher bonuses if their search numbers are good–you’ll suddenly see no shortage of execs prioritizing search improvement for their charges.

Don’t stand around hoping people will fix their content. Set up the metrics and the friendly internal competition to make it happen.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar Tonneau Cover

    Good tips. It is very essential how easy to navigate a site, way better if it easy to search the specific page or information.

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