Direct Mail and SEO: The Hidden Connection That Can Turbocharge Your Site Rankings
In our last several blogs, we’ve talked through how direct mail can be used to build your brand, and how you can measure those brand-building efforts.
This time, we’re going to look at how direct mail can help with something you probably never thought you’d mention in the same breath with direct mail: search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO and direct mail seem to be rom-com characters from totally different worlds: SEO, the high-tech, somewhat geeky object of everyone’s affection, and direct mail, the old-school plugger with Earth shoes and patches on the elbows of his sports coat.
The fact is, they can get together just as easily and congenially as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan – and they don’t need the help of a golden retriever or a Jimmy Durante soundtrack to make it happen.
Soon, we’ll show you how to use direct mail to help build search authority for your website, while simultaneously doing all the other good stuff we associate with direct mail, like increased brand stickiness and advanced analytics.
But like any good rom-com, first we have to do a little buildup.
Make sure your direct mail campaign directs to the right page
We’ve talked at length about how important it is for a direct mail campaign to go to a dedicated landing page so you can measure the campaign’s impact, and that makes a lot of sense … unless you look at it from a search perspective. Then it makes almost no sense at all.
Here’s why: A purpose-built landing page is not going to be the most-visited page on your site. If it is, you have larger problems than optimizing your direct mail campaign for search.
The landing page for your direct mail campaign may be one of the lowest-ranking pages on your site for visitor volume. In fact, it may not even be visible in your navigation. This makes it a non-factor for search.
As we mentioned earlier, that may be just fine, depending on the goals of your campaign and your overall marketing strategy. But what if that page could be one of the highest-ranking pages on your site according to Google? What if it was able to deliver the marketing support of a landing page and the search impact of a keyword-optimized, content-rich page?
It would be great, right? And the thing is, those two goals are actually complimentary.
It’s good when you use direct mail to steer customers to a page that has lots of great content. It builds your brand for them … and it builds brand for all the people who come to the page via search. No losers here.
Building that page
Without getting too granular in the how-tos, here’s how you build such a page:
- Prior to building your direct mail campaign, do a full-scale SEO sweep of your site (or have someone do it for you). There are lots of great tools that can make this task easy, including Brightedge, Moz, and SEMRush.
- Identify the keywords and phrases that you rank highly for, but more importantly, determine the words and phrases you’d like to rank higher for but currently don’t. Your direct mail campaign is going to be designed to help you rank higher for those words and phrases.
- Next, start with a clean sheet of paper and determine what you’d put on a page designed to help you rank highly for those keywords. Again, focus not just on including words and phrases in your content but building your content around those words and phrases, to answer the questions most often associated with them.
Here’s an example: Suppose you run an insurance agency, and you want to sell more homeowners’ insurance. You know the chances of ranking at the top of the page for a term like “homeowners’ insurance” are slim and none, because the big players have bought up all the space above the fold, and they rank organically for the phrase below the fold based on the huge number of people that come to their sites looking for homeowners’ insurance.
(“Above the fold” = the area you see on your screen when the first page of search results pop up; “below the fold” = the area on page one you have to scroll up and see.)
However, because you’re a pretty astute individual, you know there are opportunities to rank highly for terms like “tornado safety” or “what to do after a storm” that are tightly connected to the need for buying homeowner’s insurance.
You’ve decided your way to the top of the search pile is by positioning yourself as an authority on keeping your home safe from natural disasters, and you’re going to focus on ranking highly for terms related to that topic.
You know there’s demand; Brightedge shows 5,400 searches annually for “facts about tornadoes” and 1,900 searches for “tornado safety,” with little competition for these terms.
With that knowledge in hand, starting with a clean sheet of (virtual) paper you draft a page that’s headlined “10 Facts About Tornado Safety You Must Know To Keep Your Home And Family Safe.”
You keep most of the content on that page highly factual and to the point. You imagine you’re writing a book on that topic, and you write the page the way you’d write the book, only a little bit punchier, because this is the internet.
You break up the factual information at intervals with pictures as well as a graphic that invites readers to get a homeowner’s quote. You also put a “click to quote” box at the end, and in a sidebar, and anywhere else you feel it fits without being too obtrusive.
That’s a well-constructed page. Now, for the direct mail piece…
The direct mail piece
To build instant traffic for the page, you send homeowners in your service area a postcard directing them to the page. Because it’s insurance, there’s limits to the enticements you can offer in exchange for a quote or sale, so you have to be careful. But there’s no law against timing your mailing to fall right after a major storm and emphasizing that postcard recipients have to visit this page and read this information before the next storm, if they want to keep their home and family safe.
Since this page is meant to be out there in order to drive SEO, you can’t send people a personalized URL or restrict access to the site only to postcard recipients. It needs to live large on the interwebs.
Now, here’s the cool part.
To measure the impact of the direct mail piece, include on every postcard a URL or QR code tied to that promotion that automatically redirects to the money page, and then measure the traffic to the dummy URL to determine the effectiveness of the mailing.
When you do that, you get a page that’s purpose-built to drive search traffic, and a mailing with measurable impact that helps drive traffic to the site.
Here’s why that’s important: While the complete workings of Google’s search algorithm are hidden from prying eyes, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that traffic begets rankings – that is, if a lot of people are reading your content, and Google deems it to be authoritative, you’ll rise in the rankings. And not only will you rise in the ranking for that particular page, but you’ll rise for other similar pages on your site. Once an authority, always an authority.
The bottom line
By now you’ve probably realized there is no direct connection between direct mail and SEO, in the sense that you can improve your SEO simply by sending people a postcard.
However, direct mail is a very important tool in an integrated campaign designed to accomplish multiple business objectives, including building SEO.
The key to improving SEO is establishing yourself as an authority. Direct mail can take your status as an authority and put it in people’s hands so they can see for themselves, and direct them to your website so they can complete the circle.
Want to know more about how direct mail can help maximize your web presence? Contact us for ideas.
By Dan Topel 9/13/21