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Keyword Segmentation, Word Order and Speaking Your Customer's Language

One of the most overlooked areas of segmentation for PPC and SEO professionals is around query word order.

A few years ago I worked with one of the largest real estate portals in the world. As a paid media manager my job’s primary focus was to increase the number of leads sent to our real estate agents. After all, the more leads our agents received the more likely they would continue to pay to list homes and apartments on our site.

New to the industry, I often peeked into the search query report to gain insights into how users thought about the home procurement process.

It was pretty clear that users searched for real estate in one consistent way—that is, {property type} + city.

For example, users commonly searched for things like “Houses Dallas”, “Homes San Diego”, “Apartments Boston.”

Having built out campaigns for “Homes + City”, “Houses + City”, “Condos + City”, “Apartments + City” I soon peaked in again and noticed two additional real estate search trends.

First, search queries either led with the property type or led with the city. Diving in a bit deep further to this rather innocuous observation, performance varied wildly with word order.

The obvious next step was to build out exact match keyword campaigns for both. That is, [Chicago Houses] and [Houses Chicago]. With a well-segmented exact match account structure, we could leverage dynamic keyword insertion to increase click-through-rate (CTR).

To our pleasant surprise, not only did this increase CTR but it uncovered another insight: users who led with a geography tended to have a higher conversion rate. Intuitively that made sense.

The order in which we type often mirrors our preference or a hierarchical way of thinking.

In real estate, travel, and many other categories there is often an order of operations for decision making.

Before booking a flight, one needs to know where they want to go. Before a perfume is purchased, a woman determines which brand smells the best. Before purchasing an event ticket, a fan determines the date they want to attend. And before a house is purchased, a home-buyer needs to know what city they want to buy in.

In fact, in one e-commerce company I reviewed conversion rate varied as much as 27% based on search query word order.

Thus, for this real estate portal, when a query led with a city (as opposed to a property type) it indicated that the user was further along the conversion funnel in that they already made up their mind around geography, the most important feature of the buying decision.

With these insights, we also were able to improve our organic search revenues by prioritizing keyword orders that maximized revenue in our title and h1 tags as well as within meta descriptions and the content of the site.

Conversions are maximized when websites, apps, and advertising campaigns mirror user search behavior. Intrinsically, this is "speaking the language of the customer."

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