If you knew the true intent of a search inquiry (query) and you could respond to that intent perfectly then you’d convert most of the time.

For more than a decade Bryan, John and I have been working with clients to determine all the different buying modalities (read “Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?“) and provide relevant pathways for them. That’s complex. It’s hard work. I won’t deal with all that here.

I will share just one powerful concept that will make you a lot of money if you execute it well.

If you want to convert your prospective customer into an actual one you’ll need to scratch her itch. That’s just common sense. The offer must be relevant to the query.

It helps to think of EVERY hyperlink (PPC ads, SERPS, your navigation, banners etc.) as a contract between you and your reader/ prospective customer. Every time someone clicks on a hyperlink they are asking a question either implicitly or explicitly that they expect you to answer with relevant information. Understanding and planning relevant hyperlinks and the content that corresponds to that hyperlink (UX people call this concept “scent”) is how we teach companies to maintain persuasive momentum.

Relevance is always relative to buying mode. Lots of factors affect buying mode (economics, demographics, psychographics, stage of buying process, etc.) but for the sake of this discussion let’s assume a rather straightforward-mythical-ideal you-have-what-I-need-at-the-price-I-want-and-I’m-ready-to-buy sort of prospective customer.

If this prospective customer finds you through SEO and it takes too many clicks with questions unanswered for them to find the relevant scent, shame on you. You may very well have lost the ability to convert them. It’s a lot of work, even if it’s worthwhile, to make sure that you’re relevant for all your prospective customers. Nevertheless, while SEO isn’t free at least you’re not paying directly for the privilege of disappointing your prospective customers like you are in SEM.

It’s so sad! Sad is the amount of smart companies we see paying for keywords that are not helping them convert well. The real money cost is often so large that it approaches tragic.

It’s not that these smartest companies haven’t thought through the you-have-what-I-need-at-the-price-I-want-and-I’m-ready-to-buy questions and provided mostly relevant responses. They have, and not only that but many have done extensive keyword research to find all the terms associated with their product or service. Additionally they’ve tested the SEM ad for click-throughs. Plus the very best of them have probably even done some landing page optimization. This is all good and necessary because there’s a deep connection between the landing page and the search query.

Keywords are the bridge between the prospective buyer’s intent (want, desire and/or need) and the experience you provide. Divining the searcher’s intent and responding appropriately should be the holy grail of all search marketing.

Bryan often says:” Keywords don’t fail to convert…it’s the fault of the marketer to not offer the right landing page experience.”

I agree.

If you get the landing page right you’re well on your way.

But wait, there’s more!

Have you ever considered that a landing page can become irrelevant simply because of the way you’ve set up an SEM campaign? Your keywords/ key phrases are only the triggers for the actual search queries. Both the ad and landing page need to be in sync with the intent of each query;  so it seems obvious that you need to focus on the keyword and the landing page.

But it’s not obvious that you need to pay really careful attention to campaign structure, match types & negatives when you test your ad copy and landing pages for maximum results.

My colleague and friend Craig Danuloff, President & Founder of ClickEquations, offers a wonderful explanation of how to to do this in his free ebook “21 Secret Truths of High Resolution PPC“.  May I recommend that you download it, read it and put it into action immediately?

*** P.S. Full disclosure Bryan and I are advisors to ClickEquations