Search Behavior Targeting: Determining Targeted Content Viability and Messaging on Landing Pages

Backbite There is no more precise behavioral targeting technique than delivering relevant content by targeting the search query. The search query itself is indisputably the closest we can come as marketers to gaining insight into the goals, motivations and stage of users. This enables us to deliver the right messages, content and images that are relevant. Additionally, using search as our source medium enables us to deliver to our targets at the right place and the right time, when they are engaged in goal fulfillment. So Search Behavior Targeting (SBT) gives us the holy grail of right place, right time, right message…can’t top that!

Of course the odds of delivering relevancy from search are already higher than any other form of media based on the pull factor of the medium. Doing Search Behavior Targeting on landing pages further increases these odds of delivering relevancy. The result is higher conversion rates on your landing pages and experiences.

I’ve created and used the outline below to help guide the thought process around SBT. Please share with me your thoughts. I expect use of SBT as an optimization technique to explode over the next 12 months but there’s no reason to wait. Let’s get started…

I. Keyword or AdGroup Targeting
Determining Factors:
• Traffic per keyword
• Traffic per AdGroup
• Campaign Hierarchy

I’ve discussed the benefits of high-level segmentation here before. These rules hold true for targeted content delivery as well. The idea is to discover where the greatest impact can be made. This can be keyword level or AdGroup / campaign level.

It’s very important that you first examine the campaign hierarchy. How the keywords are grouped will determine if you can target across multiple keywords. For example:

Retirement AdGroup:
kw1 – retirement savings
kw2 – retirement account
kw3 – retirement information
kw4 – retirement planning

This AdGroup may seem like a good targeting group however a closer look shows us that there are two higher consideration keywords (planning and information) alongside two keywords more down funnel (savings and account). This gives us a few options. Realign the AdGroup or do keyword level targeting. In fact these keywords would be perfectly suited for stem targeting described in section three.

II. Targeted Message Determination
• Ad Title & Descriptions
• Broad and Exact Match Settings
• Traffic Volumes

Setting our targets is only part of the strategy. The second part is determining what messages to deliver. Our initial strategy will be predicated on a few factors. We must keep in mind the user has already engaged with us by clicking on the ad. Whatever title and description we used in our creative must have aligned with the users attempts to fulfill their goal. We should always look to reinforce this feeling upon the user landing experience.

Here though, it’s important to think about how the ads are displayed. If you are ads are being served on broad or expanded match there is going to be a loss of relevance. Imagine if the AdGroup we used above was just the keyword “retirement” on expanded match (not likely due to the CPC but you get the idea). Not only is there a loss of relevance to the user query but also we lose the reinforcement benefits of exact match (though we will still be able to repeat the query).

The last thing to consider on the campaign level is traffic. If you are doing targeting on this level but a majority of the traffic is on one keyword you may want to skew your messages towards this keyword or blend messages from a couple of your top volume keywords.

III. Basic Search Behavior Targeting Ideas:
• Branded vs. Generic
• Stem targeting (e.g. “retirement information” information is the stem)
• Keyword reinforcement
• Channel reinforcement
• Ad reinforcement

Above are some specific examples of ideas that would work well in delivering targeted content from paid search. Someone familiar enough or interested in your brand to query it should get a much stronger brand experience on the landing page than someone who has used a more general keyword. This may be images, larger logo and tag lines or just content.

Another interesting idea is stem targeting. Instead of delivering targeted content based on the root keyword you can deliver based on what is often times a better indicator of user phase and motivation, the stem. Looking at our original keyword examples above the stems on the keyword ‘retirement’ are “information, planning, account, and savings.” These stems present a great opportunity to deliver relevancy.

One simple idea that I’ve found very effective for increasing conversion rates and is employed on sites like Kayak is the keyword and channel reinforcement. Repeating the keyword phrase helps maintain the user flow and reinforces that you will be able to help them achieve their goal. It’s also helpful if an expanded keyword match was used and the ad title on generated part of the query. Of course if the user clicked to your site they have expressed interest based on your ad. Reinforcing this messaging on the landing page can be effective as well.

Keep in mind we are only scratching the surface here. Factors such as previous search behavior (query and visits) will at some point become part of the optimization equation so marketers can provide even better relevance and experiences to users.

I’ll be speaking more about landing page optimization at the upcoming OMMA show on September 25th in New York. Please stop by and say hello if you’re at the show.





3 responses to “Search Behavior Targeting: Determining Targeted Content Viability and Messaging on Landing Pages”

  1. Jamie Roche Avatar

    This is very stimulating stuff. Isn’t “stem targeting” a second variable in a pair ‘though?
    Information might be the more useful of the two, but information without retirement would likely lead to poorly targeted information.
    It seems that we are not necessarily re-grouping the adwords, but subgrouping them.


  2. Thinking Aloud Avatar

    Jon Mendez on Search Behavior Targeting

    Search Behavior Targeting: Determining Targeted Content Viability and Messaging on Landing Pages There is no more precise behavioral targeting technique than delivering relevant content by targeting the search query. The search query itself is indisput…


  3. Jonathan Mendez Avatar

    It is a second variable however if the root keyword is the same throughout the entire AdGroup we can then focus on the stem.
    It begs for organizing the keywords in your adgroups and campaigns around your landing experiences and routes. This is likely the best way to do it for conversion purposes however there may be some SEMs that feel budgetary factors override conversion since spend is controlled at that level. It’s an interesting issue.


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