Google Hummingbird rolled out a little over a year ago, and we (web presence managers) had to move quickly to transform our SEO practices to keep up. Long story short: we’ve since moved from a keyword-centric approach to a content-centric approach that is based on searcher intent.
What does that mean exactly? It means we are digging deeper to understand our customers and the customer journey from discovery to conversion, and we are creating online content that helps them at each stage of their journey.
From an actionable standpoint, that means aligning your content with buyer personas and a buyer’s journey. I accomplish that by “Content Mapping.” But before I get into the how-to, let me explain the benefits:
- Create content that better matches the searcher’s intent
- Increase leads and widen your funnel
- Move more people through the funnel to conversion
- Measure the effectiveness of your content
What is Content Mapping?
Content Mapping is likely the next revolution in search strategy . It’s about aligning digital marketing more closely with the consumer’s needs. Those who begin to create and execute better content strategies will win out over competitors who lag behind at the end of the day.
Content Mapping is likely the next revolution in search strategy… Those who begin to create and execute better content strategies will win out over competitors who lag behind at the end of the day.
How to Map Content to the Buyer Journey
I recently shared a three-step process to content mapping, which is a great resource for those looking to get started with content mapping. I even included some useful templates to get you started! Here’s an overview of the content mapping process:
- Identify and understand your customer personas.
- Audit your existing content, analyzing each page for SEO elements, useful content, appropriate calls-to-action and where it fits in the buyer journey.
- Identify holes in your content or areas where you are weak, and brainstorm new content ideas to fill those gaps.
Parsing through the data that helps plan, execute and measure a full-funnel content strategy has, so far, been difficult and disjointed. It’s been tricky to understand the search visibility and performance of those crucial content segments.
But things are about to get easier!
At the C3 conference in NYC last month, Conductor announced a new feature that is about to make it much simpler to understand and execute content strategy: Content Mapping. Content Mapping provides a clear, organized structure in which you can plan, create and measure the effectiveness of your content. It is very exciting to now have a platform that helps you map content to your buyer personas and the buyer’s journey AND gives you the SEO and analytics data to understand how your content is preforming.
See more details on Searchlight’s “Content Mapping” feature in the video below:
Tips on Getting Ready for Searchlight’s Content Mapping
This feature will be rolling out after the New Year, but you can still get ready to really utilize the new Content Mapping section of Searchlight. Fair warning to non-Searchlight users: I’m about to get tactical with these tips.
Tip #1: Create content segments that tie back to your personas and the buyer’s journey.
To effectively use the new Content Mapping feature in Searchlight, start creating content segments that relate to your personas and the different stages of the decision process (awareness, consideration & decision). This is where that content audit I mentioned above comes in handy.
Tip #2: Use Custom Segments for maximum flexibility.
Using the funnel segments you assigned to the URLs in your audit, you can create content segments for the buyer’s journey in Searchlight. A new update to the Content Insights feature allows you to upload a list of URLs into a custom segment, so you don’t just have to base your content segments on rules anymore. You can start doing this today to get insights about your content segments –you don’t have to wait for Content Mapping!
Tip #3: Skip the manual effort by segmenting with URL rules.
If auditing many of the pages on your site is a challenge given your time and resources, you can approach the segments a little differently.
For example, blog content tends to fall into the awareness bucket and product pages usually align with the decision stage. You can use similar assumptions about sections of your site to create buyer journey segments in Searchlight based on URL rules.
Content Mapping in Searchlight: Get Excited!
With content segments set up around the buyer’s journey and even specific personas, you will see metrics with which you can gauge progress and success, such as pages ranking and traffic. And if you’ve integrated Searchlight with Analytics, you’ll also get a nice snapshot of bounce rate, goal completions and any other metrics you are tracking, by segment.
Mapping your content to personas and the buyer journey ensures that you don’t have any holes in your content strategy. Many businesses miss important top-funnel content, which can attract more traffic and widen your funnel. And, adding data to buyer funnel and persona segments means you’ll be able to see where you are strong and where you are weak in terms of content effectiveness.