11 essentials of an effective SEO proposal

Creation Handshake by Artotem

One of the key decisions many companies must make in regards to search engine optimisation (SEO) is the decision on whether to create and build a team in-house or to work with an external agency. There are pros and cons to both approaches and many businesses often choose to go with a combination of the two: create a team in-house and work with an agency to support with best practice and on-going guidance.

If a decision is made to work with an SEO agency there are number of steps to be taken, including the selection of a range of agencies and later the management of a pitch process.

However, the step before the later will include a review of a series of proposals from the selection of agencies invited to submit. And in this post, I’m going to review some of the key factors a client-side marketer should look for in an agency SEO proposal.

Key factors in any SEO agency proposal

In my experience of reviewing proposals there are some common factors which you should look out for that I’ve listed here.

1. Initial audit and review

For any new SEO agency coming in, this stage gives them the opportunity to review existing performance and establish a baseline in which to measure future SEO efforts.

2. Keyword identification and prioritisation

This is when the real SEO work starts. The keyword identification process allows the SEO agency to begin selecting the keywords and keyword themes that are most relevant to the business.

3. Competitor benchmarking

In a similar way to the keyword identification stage, the competitor benchmarking process involves picking out the different competitor sets that the client should benchmark performance against.

4. Technical and backlink audit

This stage can be broken into two parts:

1. Technical – this involves analysis of re-directs, sitemaps, crawler access and source code

2. Backlink audit – due to Google’s various Google Penguin algorithm updates, it’s never been more important to have a natural link profile.

5. Content review – on-site and off-site

This stage also involves two parts:

1. On-site – a review of the effectiveness of all on-site content, including products pages, blog/articles, landing pages, support and on-site search

2. Off-site – an analysis of how and where content is being used on other sites and how it is being linked back to the client’s website

6. Social media review

This will involve an audit of how social media is currently being used and any gaps or opportunities that are not being utilised.

With many social media channels being key platforms in which to distribute and share content (both paid for and organically), an SEO agency should be able to advise on where a client should be investing in the social space.

7. Strategy and direction

Following the keyword identification, competitor benchmarking and review of existing technical SEO and content, the agency will be in a position to provide a detailed recommendation of the SEO strategy and direction the client should follow.

The strategy and direction the agency proposes should align with the client’s high-level goals and objectives as well as the business philosophy (e.g. rank well at all costs vs. white hat approach to SEO).

8. Planning, reporting and forecasting

Once the strategy and direction have been agreed, the SEO agency should provide a view on how they will forecast performance based on the plans they will put in place and how they will report on performance on a weekly and monthly basis. There should be an overview of:

  • Alignment to business goal and objectives
  • Main SEO KPIs and metrics
  • Analytics tools and processes

9. Costs and resources

Finally, the agency will outline how they would propose to work with the client.

It’s important to have a clear idea about the history of the agency, their experience in SEO (as well as other earned media activities, such as content marketing and social media) and the size of their team.

And of course the agency will also provide a cost guide and a recommendation as to how they work (e.g. retainer, PRF etc).

Lastly, there may also be reference to a review or appraisal in order to look at a process for improvement in order to understand whether the agency’s process is effective. What will they actually deliver each month? What concrete deliverables are they committing to?

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In addition to the main elements of an SEO proposal referenced above, the following factors are also worth considering:

10. Company fit

As is the case with any type of recruitment, it’s important that there is the right ‘fit’ and ‘chemistry’ between the client and agency, both at a corporate and personnel level.

For example, an agency may have an excellent level of expertise and a great track record of success but if this has been in a completely different sector or industry there may be issues with adaptability, e.g. compliance considerations in financial services or the medical industry.

11. Integration with other media

For most businesses, SEO is one of many marketing tactics at their disposal. It’s therefore important to consider how an agency’s SEO efforts will integrate with display marketing, remarketing and paid search.

The integration of paid and organic search is particularly important, especially in terms of keyword prioritisation and testing (for keywords, landing pages and headlines).


3 ways to take action from social media insight

Deep Insight by IBM Events
As the social web continues to evolve, so too has the amount of data and insight available to marketers. From the ongoing development of tools such as Google Analytics, Sysomos and Salesforce.com, to the progression of native tools such as Facebook Insights, Twitter and Pinterest Analytics, marketers now have a wealth of social insight to choose from.

But as with all types of web analytics, it’s essential that in order to make good business decisions we must take actionable insight from the social data we have at our disposal. Gone are the days when we could rely on top-level descriptive metrics such as the number of Likes or followers accrued over time and be able to report on what has happened. Leaders and management now demand insight that demonstrates how social media is adding value to the business and the metrics that shed light on what we should be doing next to create value.

Good key performance indicators (KPIs) help us understand why, when and where customers and prospects are buying, engaging and talking about the brand and provide us with the insight to improve performance. In this post I’m going to outline three ways in which we can take social media insight and make marketing decisions and take action.

Align metrics with goals

Before going into the detail of the post, from the outset it’s worth stressing the importance of aligning social media metrics with the overarching goals of the business.

As Chris Soames highlights in his post on how to ensure you track performance against target, we first have to be clear on the difference between goals, objectives and KPIs and then on how the goals, objectives and KPIs we choose tie in with what the business is ultimately looking to achieve.

By tracking and reporting on social media KPIs on a regular basis and aligning these with what the business is looking to achieve, we can build credibility and interest in the activity we’re doing and generate buy-in and support from the top down.

Goals-vs-Objectives pyramid

Improve customer satisfaction

Rather than simply talking at audiences, social media has enabled brands to develop relationships with customers by participating in communities, whether that be on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or via blogs and forums.

Whilst it’s perfectly acceptable to promote and ‘push’ content via social media, there’s also a huge opportunity to ‘listen’ and respond to conversations about the brand using sentiment analysis.

Tools such as Google Alerts, Trackr and Social Mention, as well as more advanced solutions like Sysomos and Radian6, allow you to set up custom alerts for different mentions of your brand, products, industry and competition.

Monitoring mentions and conversations on the social web gives you the ability to improve customer service and satisfaction by:

  • Proactively responding to complaints
  • Identifying potential issues
  • Engage with followers and customers before problems escalate
  • Review consumer brand engagement
  • Identify new content opportunities

Build a demographic picture of your social audience

By using data from the sentiment analysis, you can begin to build a picture of who your social audience is made up of, particularly in terms of:

  • Age group
  • Location
  • Profession
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle

Ask yourself: does this align with who your perceived make-up of your target audience? And how do your audiences vary across different social platforms?

As another step in this process, it’s worth looking at tools such as Facebook Audience Insights to gather data about your current customers and/or fans as well as learn more about different groups of people on Facebook.

Using Facebook Audience Insights, you can begin to compare your audience to the typical Facebook user based on the following criteria:

Age and Gender:

FB Insights - Age and Gender

Relationship Status and educational level:

FB Insights - releationship status and educational level

Job Title:

FB Insights - job title

Household*:

FB Insights - household (Jon Loomer)

Activity*:

FB Insights - activity (Jon Loomer)

* Household and Activity are only available in the US

This type of data is highly actionable, as it allows you to begin refining your messaging and ad targeting by segmenting audiences based on:

  • Current Facebook fans
  • Customers
  • Your competitors’ fans

Aside from targeted advertising, this level of insight will also give you more confidence in who your audience actually composed of, enabling you to build much more targeted, relevant content (see next section below).

Generate content creation opportunities

Tools such as Socialcrawlytics and Buzzsumo can be used to analyse how your content is being shared online as well as evaluate how your competitors are performing. The real value of this type of data is that it gives you great insight into what type of content you should be creating for different social networks. By taking a more analytical view of content creation, you’re more likely to produce content that meets customer needs and generates improved reach, engagement and lead-generation/ sales opportunities.

BuzzSumo enables marketers to take a snapshot analysis of a site’s content and how it is being shared across key social channels:

BuzzSumo - Smart Insights (1)

BuzzSumo - Smart Insights (2)

The examples above provide insight about not just what type of content is getting shared more widely but where it is proving to be most popular. It’s interesting to see that when comparing the two posts, the first one, which included an infographic, not only performed better on Pinterest but also LinkedIn. However, what is it about the second post that made it perform so strongly on Twitter?

Armed with this insight, marketers can begin to understand what content works most effectively on what social channels and as a result can begin crafting their content schedules based on what their audience is likely to want to consume rather than what they assume they want to read.


Content Marketing and SEO best practices

Earlier in September I attended Digital Impact – Smart Insights’ inaugural digital marketing conference at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. And as expected, it was a festival of all things digital, with presentations and workshops on a variety of topics including ecommerce strategy, digital transformation, paid search best practices and mobile strategy.

For this post, I want focus on another key technique for Digital Impact and one that was the subject of a workshop in the afternoon hosted by ClickThrough.

Where is SEO now?

Before delving into the workshop, a few facts were shared with the audience to confirm the current state of SEO:

  • Google are continually fighting poor content and spam
  • Google’s ranking criteria has changed drastically
  • Content marketing is a top priority for most digital marketing professionals

Most marketers are therefore asking:

  • How do I create high value content?
  • How do I create content that is shareable?
  • How do I get quality links that conform to Google’s guidelines?
  • How do I do PR and outreach effectively?

What is a good/ bad link?

To begin answering these questions, we first looked at what constitutes a good or bad link. Without looking at Google’s Webmaster guidelines, the audience were asked to spend 20 seconds on 13 examples of links to decide whether they are the types of links that could harm websites and therefore not compliant with Google’s Webmaster guidelines.

From all the examples, six of the links were good and seven bad, and it was interesting to see the audiences responses to the questions (for the record, I scored 11/13 – #lucky!).

For example, this type of link is perfectly fine:

Good link example

Whilst this one isn’t:

Bad link example

The first is an acceptable link to a website, which uses branded anchor text, whilst the second example uses generic anchor, something that Google now frowns upon.

Recommendations to avoid Google penalties

So with Google now taking such a tough stance on poor quality backlink profiles, ClickThrough recommend the following process, even if you haven’t experienced a Google penalty:

  • Identify every link to your website
  • Check if it complies with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
  • Remove the links that don’t comply

Assess the effectiveness of your strategy

For any site wanting to make an impact in the modern world of SEO, a focus on content is key.

At a broad level, ClickThrough work with clients on three core areas of SEO:

1. Content marketing and PR
2. Process for review and improvement
3. Technical SEO

From these areas, there are 10 pillars of SEO and content strategy that sites should follow:

1. Analysis, research and discovery strategies
2. Technical consulting and research to maximise site crawlability and indexing
3. On-page optimisation
4. Link reputation strategies (both internal and external linking)
5. Local and international strategies
6. Website monitoring and maintenance
7. Analytics and conversion optimisation
8. Content marketing and creative ideas
9. PR, blogger, influencer outreach and distribution
10. Social strategies

The 10 pillars provide a useful framework to easily identify and focus on the key areas of SEO and content marketing.

Without the time to go through all 10 pillars, the workshop specifically looked checklists for benchmarking:

Link reputation strategies: 

Link reputation pillar

PR, blogger, influencer outreach and distribution

PR, blogger outreach and distribution pillar

Customer and buyer persona analysis 

The final section of the workshop focused on the importance of creating meaningful content for audiences, which should always start with a discovery phase for your content strategy and an appreciation of who the customer/ buyer is.

Personas allow us to build a picture of the type of customer groups we’re trying to attract. An understanding of our customer personas is essential to the content creation process as well as other activity including product development, customer acquisition and sales.

As with the 10 pillars, ClickThrough also provide a useful checklist for the creation of different customer personas, breaking the elements down into a general overview, behavioural segmentation and lifestyle segmentation:

Buyer persona analysis

Summary and top tips for planning your content/SEO strategy

To review, the main recommendations for anyone planning a content/ SEO strategy is to tackle the following key areas:

  • Audit your backlink profile and clean it up
  • Complete the 10 pillars of SEO & Content Marketing
  • Complete a persona audit to assess content needs

Once this is complete, you’ll be in a better position to begin putting your content/ SEO strategy into action, create content and start your outreach programme.

Some top tips to consider

Here are some next steps to consider using a range of advice and templates on Smart Insights:

1. Assess your existing content assets through a content marketing audit
2. Conduct a content brainstorm using the Content Marketing Matrix:

content-matrix

3. Get inspiration and ideas from authoritative sources
4. Think like a publisher and create a content calendar
5. Measure content marketing success


A roadmap for improved web experiences

Roadmap - by Canned Muffins

We are currently living in an era of Digital Darwinism, a time where evolving technologies – from mobile, real-time, to social media and the Internet of Things – are disrupting traditional business models and markets. In order to adapt effectively, digital transformation is required to ensure that businesses look beyond the here and now and focus on how disruptive technologies are affecting customer behaviour and the impact this has on their business.

The continuous evolution of the website

For most, a company’s website is at the centre of their digital ecosystem, and with the explosive growth in mobile and tablet usage the form and nature of the website is changing to keep pace with the changes in customer demands and preferences.

Many sites are therefore shifting to either adaptive or responsive designs and it could be suggested that a website redesign, relaunch or migration can be considered an integral part of the managed digital transformation process.

Best practices for effective website migration

As part of a digital transformation initiative, I was recently involved in the migration of an existing, legacy website, built using a fixed design, to a new website, with a responsive design and structure.

I was primarily responsible for the site’s natural search/SEO and social media effectiveness but my involvement in the project provided me with a 3600 view of the entire website migration process. I’d therefore like to outline some of the key aspects and learnings from my website migration experience and how they can be applied to other similar projects:

Outline goals and objectives

From the outset, it’s important to be absolutely clear as to why you are migrating your website and the objectives and success criteria associated with this. Remember: all objectives should be SMART.

For the project I was involved in, whilst one of the core reasons was to upgrade to a more sophisticated CMS, the core objective was:

To provide users with a first class customer experience on all browsers and devices

Some of the success criteria that derived from this overarching objective included:

  • Maintain (with a view to improving) existing natural search traffic and ranking performance
  • Enhance the overall website user experience
  • Ensure the website is accessible on all key browsers and devices

Pre-migration preparation

This stage involves establishing a baseline as to where you are now to give yourself the basis on which to measure and track results and thus the success or failure of the project versus objectives.

For our project, we primarily used this stage to review current and historic website traffic patterns to understand the future impact of change. The activity involved included:

  • Evaluated trends of views, visits and top landing pages to understand seasonal and promotional variance
  • Reviewed the number of search referrals to the site and took a measure of current percentage
  • Ran crawl tests to assess accessibility of site to search engines (primarily Google) and how many pages currently indexed
  • Measured inbound links and referring domains to key sections of the site and to the website as a whole

From my experience, the set up of a cross-functional website migration team with a range of different skills and expertise was crucial to the success of the project. As Brian Solis points out:

“The outcome of even the smallest investments in change brings together typically disparate groups to work in harmony across the entire customer journey. This allows teams to cooperate, or merge into new groups, in uniting the digital journey to improve engagement; deliver a holistic experience; and eliminate friction, gaps, and overlap”.

Consider your digital toolkit

A number of tools will be necessary throughout the project, as part of the baseline measurement, as well as for checking progress and measuring results once the new site goes live.

Some of the tools I found most useful during our website migration project included:

  • Web analytics – for measuring traffic by source; time on site/ engagement; bounce rate
  • Moz Open Site Explorer – to record rankings and review inbound links to the site
  • MajesticSEO – to baseline inbound links to the site
  • Website crawlers – use tools such as Screaming Frog and Xenu to get a list of all URLs and for checking redirects post-migration
  • Google Webmaster Tools – for conducting a site audit and monitoring errors post-migration

Review/audit key content

A thorough content review is essential, whether you’re planning on ‘lifting and shifting’ existing content across to the new site, updating or refining existing content, creating brand new content or a combination of all three.

With responsibility for all earned media marketing activity, this was a key task of mine and meant working closely with a number of teams and key stakeholders across the business, particularly content, marketing and PR.

Together we audited the site and made a plan as to how content would change and/ or be migrated into the structure of the new site. A pre-defined site structure meant we had a guide as to how the new site was going to be designed but this had to be flexible to ensure we could carry the right content across without losing key information or harming UX or natural search performance.

Some of the questions we asked when reviewing content included:

  • What Does the content serve a specific purpose?
  • How much traffic does the page receive?
  • Is the page orphaned?
  • Has the page earned any external links – how many and of what authority?
  • Has the content been shared socially?
  • Is there any other similar or duplicated content?
  • Is the content still relevant?

Define URL structure and redirection plan

If URLs are going to be changing as part of the website migration, it’s essential that a comprehensive redirection plan is created.

URLs can often change and pages moved as part of a website migration due to:

  • Re-branding requiring new domain
  • Expansion into foreign markets requiring new TLDs
  • Upgrade/redesign leading to a new navigation or URL structure
  • Re-purposing/ or updating of content on new website

Depending on the size of your website, a thorough redirection plan can be a complex and time-consuming process but a crucial one nonetheless. From an SEO perspective, restructuring or migrating a website is fraught with danger if not handled correctly so it’s highly recommended and worthwhile working with experienced specialists who can guide you through the process.

Launch and review

Prior to launch, it’s important to carry out last checks, including a content review, website crawl to pick up errors (e.g. broken links, missing meta data etc) and assurances that correct (301 – permanent) redirects are in place.

Once the new site is launched, it will be time to go back to the baseline and review results over the first few days and weeks. It’s important at this stage to keep calm, be consistent and trust in your preparation and research.

For the project I was involved in, we ensured that we referred back to the baseline we established at the start to look at:

  • Traffic – all sources
  • Rankings
  • Bounce rate
  • Sales funnels, customer journeys and conversion paths
  • Crawl errors and internal links
  • Missing pages and broken URLs (404 errors)

Set out a clear post-migration communications plan

It’s important that key stakeholders, both inside and outside the organisation, are aware of the new site and what it means to them. What or how you communicate will depend on the type of changes that have been made to the site but it’s usually worth shouting about positive changes and updates.

The website I was working on underwent a substantial re-design, with the introduction of new functionality and a lot of content. It was therefore imperative that we signalled changes to users early on, before we migrated, with sneak previews and guidance on the old site as to what the new site would offer.

Following the launch of the new site, customers and staff were emailed, social channels updated and key stakeholders invited to feedback with their views. Letting as many people as possible know about the good work that had taken place was a good opportunity to get people talking and generate new inbound links to the site.

Further reading and links

There are many articles across the web with helpful hints, tips and best practices for site migration. Here are a few that I have found very useful:


Best tools for effective backlink analysis

Although there is plenty of evidence to suggest that search engines are paying attention to other factors in addition to links when ranking websites, good quality backlinks are still very important and widely considered to be the leading ranking factor:

Ranking factors 2013

Effective link-building will form an integral part of any credible SEO strategy but before work begins on this type of activity it is highly advisable to conduct a backlink analysis in order to benchmark versus competitors and other leading websites, as well as gain a more thorough understanding and knowledge of links, link quality and link building strategies and tactics.

In his backlink analysis post for Search Engine Watch, Jon Ball identifies the following key elements of a comprehensive backlink analysis:

1. Total number of links
2. Number of unique domains
3. Linking domains vs. total links
4. Anchor text usage and variance – branded, keyword rich, etc.
5. Fresh/incoming links
6. Page performance
7. Link quality

There are a number of tools and software available to assist with backlink analysis. Search specialists and agencies will be familiar with many of these tools and are likely have access to a variety of them. However, for this post I’m going to look at the process from a client-side/ in-house search marketing perspective, where this may be managed a little differently from agencies and want to use a backlink analysis to:

  • Benchmark link volume and quality vs. competitors
  • Conduct a competitor analysis
  • Review SEO agency performance
  • Measure content and social media campaign performance
  • Identify opportunities for blogger/journalist outreach

It’s often advisable to work with at least a couple of tools, which will help provide a decent level of detail and is also useful for ‘sense-checking’ data and spotting trends or warning signs (e.g. spammy links or unnatural anchor text etc).

The backlink analysis tools

Whilst there are a number of tools to choose from, below is a review of three tools that I believe are particularly useful for in-house search marketing teams for backlink analysis and/or competitor benchmarking:

Google Webmaster Tools 

Google Webmaster Tools

Although Google’s Webmaster Tools can only be used to analyse link information for your own site and not those of competitors, the ‘Links to Your Site’ report (under the ‘Traffic’ section on the left-hand navigation menu) is still a useful resource for conducting a ‘high-level’ analysis of your site’s link portfolio. The report highlights the total number of links to your site, an overview report of who links the most, the most linked pages, as well as how data is linked (AKA anchor text).

Pros:

  • Free
  • Can manage multiple websites
  • Provides a good initial ‘high-level’ view of link profile
  • Linking domains can be downloaded as a CSV or Google Doc file to check and see if a given domain is linking to you

Cons:

  • Can only review your own website and not competitors
  • The ‘Links to Your Site’ feature does not provide a definitive list of links and is not as comprehensive or accurate as other tools such as MajesticSEO and Moz’s Open Site Explorer (reviewed below)

MajesticSEO 

MajesticSEO

MajesticSEO is widely considered to have one of the most comprehensive link indexes and provides some incredibly detailed link analysis reports. MajesticSEO also has an excellent blog providing SEO tips and best practices, training posts and videos and tool updates.

Pros:

  • Free (though paid options available for more detail and functionality)
  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Ability to review competitor sites and compare to your own
  • Trend external links over time
  • Detailed anchor text analysis
  • Export to Excel functionality
  • Drill down into links to specific pages
  • Allows both a back link & domain link counts

Separates EDU & GOV links to allow easy analysis on quality links

Cons:

  • Detailed analysis requires a subscription
  • Amount of detail can be overwhelming and requires time to reach proficiency

Moz Open Site Explorer

Moz Open Site Explorer

Moz provides a range of SEO tools, from rank tracking to keyword difficulty and SERP analysis. They also have a superb blog covering everything from SEO to content marketing and UX. However, Moz are well known for their link analysis tool, Open Site Explorer, which provides detailed link data and competitor intelligence capabilities.

Pros:

  • Free (though paid options available for more detail and functionality)
  • Intuitive and engaging interface
  • Provides useful side-by-side competitor comparison and benchmarking
  • Anchor Text analysis available
  • Export to Excel functionality
  • Ability to drill down into links to specific pages

Cons:

  • Detailed analysis requires a subscription
  • Link index not considered to be as comprehensive as MajesticSEO

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As suggested above, for an in-house SEO team it’s certainly worth using at least a couple of tools to conduct a backlink analysis, and considering their respective prices, both MajesticSEO and Moz compliment each other nicely alongside Google Webmaster Tools.

Whilst all three tools have their down sides, the advantages they offer far outweigh the negatives and they offer some excellent functionality that will provide any SEO team with some powerful actionable insights.


New insights from Google Keyword Planner

When the Google Keyword Tool was removed and replaced with the Keyword Planner approximately a year ago, the ability for marketers to filter traffic estimates by device was lost. However, with the introduction of nine new features to the Google Keyword Planner Tool last month, users will now have greater insight into mobile device volumes, mobile trends, enhanced location breakdowns and how this data trends over time.

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on the mobile and location enhancements, which offer some really useful data and allows us to consider how we can optimise our sites more effectively for mobile and tablet searchers.

Contribution of search volume for keywords by device

From the nine new features Google have introduced, different businesses will gain something different from each of them. But one of the most exciting features that’s likely to interest both small and larger enterprises alike is the re-introduction of device search insights:

Breakdown by device - aggregate

This feature provides visual data to enable users to understand the expected search volume contribution from individual devices. As you can see from above, a group of keywords representing a particular theme or topic can be analysed to get an aggregate volume of searches, in total as well as broken down by device type.

This type of data allows one to see how people are searching online for particular terms and phrases. For example, if it’s clear that a relatively equal volume of searches is coming from tablet, mobile devices and desktop computers, the data could be useful for building a business case for SEO investment in a responsive or adaptive website.

Breakdown by device - individual

Alternatively, you can also analyse individual keywords to determine specifically how each of them is performing by device type. In the first image above, we could see that [isa] was driving 49,500 searches per month as part of the aggregate list, however we can also see how these 49,500 [isa] searches themselves are broken down by device type in the second image.

This is useful for understanding how keyword groups differ from one another and whether individual content sections or landing pages might need to be tailored for those searching on desktop, mobile or tablet computers.

Analysing mobile trends over time

In addition to looking at overall search volume trends over time for particular keywords, e.g.:

Overall search volume trends

… the Keyword Planner also allows users to see the mobile percentage of these search terms over a period of time:

Mobile search volume trends

This is particularly useful to see how consumer behaviour is changing in relation to how people are using mobile devices to search online:

Mobile search volume trends over time

For the term [weather] (used above), one can clearly see that the percentage of searches conducted on mobile devices has increased steadily over time, from 17.3% in May 2012 to 56.1% in April 2014.

Along with the contribution of search volume for keywords by device which we looked at in the previous section, this level of data allows marketers to look at how content is rendered on different devices, for either a particular search term or group of terms, and can inform how content can be tailored to create a more useful user experience across devices.

Get more accurate data by setting specific dates

In the example above, we looked at the term [isa]. The 49,500 searches per month is an average taken over the last 12 months. For other terms that are not as highly affected by seasonality (e.g. [bank accounts]), this annual average number is still quite useful. However, because an ISA is a very seasonal financial product, it’s worth considering how search volume and demand for this term varies over the course of the year:

Seasonal snapshot - ISA

The seasonal snapshot above shows that there’s a clear escalation in search volume for the term [isa] from January onwards, with a peak in March. It might therefore be worth looking at the average search volume for this term during both ‘ISA season’ (January – April) and the rest of the year:

Seasonal comparison - ISA

By selecting the dates we want to focus on using the ‘date range’ selector in the left-hand navigation, we can compare average monthly searches for two specific date ranges to see how they differ.

As you’ll see from the data above, the graph provides absolute and relative changes so we can see that there is nearly a +124% percentage change in searches for the term [isa] during ‘ISA season’ vs. the rest of the year. Armed with this information, content, SEO and paid search efforts can be prioritised during key times of the year in order to maximise the seasonal opportunities.

Another handy aspect of the date range feature is the ability to compare search volume year-on-year so that accurate comparisons can be made for search demand:

Comparison on last year

Understand how search trends differ by target locations

Another useful addition to the Keyword Planner is the ability to see a breakdown of search volumes by location:

Location breakdown

This feature allows marketers to analyse the differences in search volume by location and identify segmentation opportunities. For example, although Nottingham is the second largest city by population size from the sample used above, it’s driving the least number of searches. Perhaps there is an opportunity to improve content and messaging on the website or modify bids in paid search campaigns in relation to Nottingham.