SEO and conversion with post-Panda Google

Posted by Gareth Davies on 15 Feb, 2012
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SEO and Conversion in a post-Panda world by Wordtracker - the leading keyword research tool

With Google’s Panda update helping big brands, small businesses face the challenge of targeting the long tail with limited resources.

At the London Conversion Conference, Gareth Davies heard some suggestions from Patrick Altoft of Branded 3

Why don’t people convert?

The task is to figure out why visitors aren’t converting and then fix it. Some common reasons could include:

  • Might come back later
  • Product or service may not be what they’re looking for
  • Website lacked enough detail or information
  • User couldn’t use the site
  • Preferred to buy elsewhere
  • User didn’t like the site
  • Product or service is too expensive

If you know why people are not converting, you can take steps to improve the situation.

3 ways to increase conversion

  1. Increase the relevancy of keywords - this can help increase your conversion rate.
  2. Get more visits - this will increase your conversion numbers.
  3. Attract users at multiple stages during the buying cycle – this can improve conversion numbers & rates.

Whether the sector is cars, mobile phones or a content site, everyone has a totally different buying cycle. The only way to leverage this is to research keywords and categorize them into the buying cycle.

Survey your customers

Ask questions to find out what research your customers did to discover the product or service.

Find out how they found your site and what things you could do better on your website. For example "Which guides would like to see?"

Keyword research

Undertake some advanced keyword research and work out the potential revenue for each keyword you buy using PPC.

  • Work out the keywords
  • Establish the conversion rate
  • Calculate the potential revenue

Patrick’s firm Branded 3 rank checks around one million keywords a month, so in order to apply all this data in a practical way it’s crucial to prioritize.

Target keywords that are near to the Top 5 in Google

Patrick advised people to choose keywords:

  • With potential revenue of greater than £1,000 a month
  • That your site currently ranks roughly between 5th and 10th position in Google
  • Have an above average conversion rate.

The aim is to use SEO to push more Top 10 phrases into positions one to five.

By targeting keywords close to the Top 5, a small effort has a chance of quickly achieving Top 5 rankings that will bring more visits and response.

It could take six months or more to move keywords ranking much further down (at position 50 or 60 on page five or six, for example) into the top positions.This is the same principle of building on success that’s at the heart of Really, really really easy SEO.

Assign keywords to landing pages

One downside of the above approach is that there can be thousands of long tail keywords to work with.

With such huge volume it is virtually impossible to target keywords individually in an SEO campaign.

Patrick’s company Branded 3 deals with this by using single pages to target multiple keywords organized into groups.

This list could be extensive and include many keywords. For example, keywords could include:


Once you have established the keyword list to target, each keyword can be assigned to a landing page. For example, brand keywords can be targeted by category pages, deals can be grouped to a special offers landing page and so on.

The aim is to group large numbers of keywords to a limited number of landing pages so you can promote these pages through on-page and off-page SEO.

For one Branded 3 client, seven landing pages covered 95% of search volume.

This approach also makes link building easier because multiple relevant links can be channeled every month to each landing page rather than having to target thousands of pages.


Warning: make SEO appear natural

Building lots of links with the same anchor text can mean inbound links get devalued by Google. To avoid this, Patrick recommended adding variation to the link text.

By following this strategy, it is also possible to work through long lists of keywords and target the long tail.

Variety is key. Adding noise and brand phrases can help make an inbound link profile look very natural. By doing this it's possible to shoe-horn dozens of long tail keywords into a single page.


2011 has been the year of the brands

Google Panda has meant many sites lost traffic. Some price comparison websites have lost up to 90% of their traffic, with many smaller web retailers also being hit.

However big brands have benefited. In the UK electrical sector, brands like PC World, John Lewis and Comet have been major winners and their natural search traffic has trended up by 50% or more.

According to Patrick the big brands have effectively ‘hoovered up’ everyone else’s lost traffic.

Whilst the Google Panda update has been good news for big brands (and their SEO agencies), for everyone else it has created a new challenge. SMBs must adapt and make a concerted effort online to target the long tail of search in a manageable and affordable way.

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