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Infor's organic search makeover clicks with customers

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Objective: Develop a single Infor Web site and improve search engine results. Strategy: Use keyword analysis, organic search techniques and Web site optimization to drive traffic to a newly consolidated corporate site. Results: After two years, unique visitors have increased 220%. Driving traffic are SEO and the company's dramatically expanded use of keyword combinations, which have grown from 1,940 to 14,600. Infor is a business software company that has grown to $2.3 billion in sales and 9,000 employees in six years. By 2006, however, with a plethora of divisions and acquired brands spread over more than 100 Web sites, its search marketing efforts were unfocused and ineffective. “Frankly, we had grown quickly,” said Dave Alampi, VP-global marketing strategy and services at Alpharetta, Ga.-based Infor. “All these companies had their own brands and Web sites, and it was pretty confusing.” In addition, while Infor's corporate Web site offered a fair amount of content, it didn't focus on “how to get people to learn about us, engage and raise their hands when they were interested,” Alampi said. The dual problems prompted an almost yearlong project to develop a new Infor Web site with robust content. Case studies and white papers were developed for download, and the sites were ready to be found. Working with digital marketing company Oneupweb, Traverse City, Mich., which had been working on behalf of one of Infor's acquired companies, Alampi started an organic search campaign driven, at first, using only 50 keywords on four search engines: Ask, Google, MSN and Yahoo. The goal was to continually refine keywords—such as “cash management,” “CRM solutions,” “asset management,” “human capital management” and “supply chain management”—by research into what potential customers were actually searching for, and by multiple variations of what was being entered into the engines' search fields. “We had our own suspicions of what we thought people would search for, but we found that there is a much broader set of keywords they use,” Alampi said. “We didn't just consider the single phrases "enterprise research planning' or "enterprise asset management.' We wanted to have every variation of those phrases.” Using tools from Omniture, Infor also tested and revised Web site features that invited further clicks. The alterations have been as simple as changing a static photo to a Flash animation. In one case, moving a graphic from the left to the right helped increase the completing of informational forms by 50%, Alampi said. Duncan White, director-client services at Oneupweb, cited the value of internal links, which the search engines like. For instance, Infor's site and its separate site map page is rich with links, which help search engines find pertinent material. Meanwhile, content is continually tested and revised to dovetail with search terms—but within reason. “You can't optimize for 8,000 keywords,” White said. “What you do is pick those that people think of, so that your site becomes themed and relevant for variations of your most important keywords.” Oneupweb also worked with Infor to optimize the company's online news releases so they, too, could be found by searchers. “We started this journey a year and a half ago, and right now we are up dramatically in our natural search traffic being driven to our Web sites,” Alampi said, adding, “And it's continuing to go up.” At the beginning of the SEO program, Infor's main site received about 10,000 unique visitors per month. It now sees 33,000 unique visitors. White offered another benchmark of progress. “When we started our program in October 2006, Infor received traffic on 1,947 different keywords in one month from organic listings,” he said. “A year later we had traffic from 8,511 different keywords. And as of September 2008, we have 14,600 different keyword variations hitting the Infor site.” Along with the organic search, Infor receives search engine-generated traffic through 17,000 of its pages But White stressed the SEM effort is a continuous one. “When we look at keywords, we're constantly seeing trends,” he said. “At one time we might have been sitting at position eight on a search result, but now we're at No. 2. So we have to ask ourselves what's causing that. We're continually re-optimizing.” Alampi echoed this idea, noting that Infor will continue to do A/B multivariate testing of its sites to understand what drives search results, as well as implement new tools to augment conversions. For example, the company is now testing various methods of having Web site visitors fill out informational forms for the privilege of downloading white papers and other collateral. Also on the horizon: implementing search engine optimization on the company's country-specific Web sites, with appropriate keywords and phrases in local languages. “I would say that close to half our marketing budget is devoted to Web-based activities, including search engine optimization,” Alampi said. “Because, at the end of the day we know that when people search for something, you have to be there to be found.” M
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