What does linguistics mean for SEO, Content and mattresses? In this article, we look at the mattress manufacturer, Casper, and see how they use linguistic theory, coupled with a detailed understanding of their target audience, to optimize their content for maximum conversions. And that’s not all – we take a look at how Casper uses SEO, content optimization and paid ads to survive and succeed alongside bigger brands in a highly-competitive online marketplace.
Webinar Recap: SEO Factor Linguistics
We first presented the example of casper.com in our whitepaper “Digital SEO Success Factor Linguistics”, developed in cooperation with the Berlin seeding and content marketing agency, Suxeedo, where we looked at how Casper uses an understanding of emotional linguistics to craft the content on its website. This topic was addressed in more depth in a Searchmetrics webinar with Daniel Furch, Director Marketing EMEA, and Suxeedo’s Fionn Kientzler. If you didn’t catch the webinar, you can view it here (jump to 33 minutes to get straight to the casper.com example):
Linguistic content optimization for improved conversions
Our SEO linguistics whitepaper and webinar present a scientific approach that focuses not just on how a website’s content will improve search engine rankings, but on how it will appeal to a users’ emotions. Each piece of content should exist on the page for a reason, and contribute to the sales argument. Fionn explains how this includes appealing to emotions, addressing problems, presenting solutions and using authoritative testimonials to support your messages.
The following screenshot is a good example of how an otherwise commonplace figure (number of product sales) is emotionalized.
By showing the number of dreams dreamed, rather than simply mattresses sold, emotion is injected into a dry, business performance metric. Furthermore, using the number of dreams allows for the use of a far higher figure than simple sales, and the high level of specificity (ending in 201) contributes to the impression that this number is constantly rising.For much more detail on linguistic theory and how it can be applied to online content, watch the full video above or click here to download our whitepaper:
Conversion optimization is highly important, but you can’t convert if you don’t visit the website to begin with. Therefore, we’ll use the rest of this article to take a step back and see how Casper navigates its market to drive web traffic.
Who are Casper and what is their position in the market?
Casper is a mattress manufacturer and like the majority of companies, Casper is fairly young and isn’t one of the largest in its industry. Particularly online, you aren’t only competing with other specialists, but most online shops will find Amazon and Ebay occupying a significant amount of their market. Leaving the all-round behemoths to one side for a moment, we can see how casper.com performs in comparison to three other mattress websites. This chart, as with all data presented in this article, comes from the German index of Google.
The first thing the chart shows is that casper.com has a much lower SEO Visibility than the three selected competitors. However, if we look at casper.com alongside another mattress company of comparable size, bett1.de, then we can see significant improvements since late 2017, and is now at a similar level to bett1.de.
Given the presence of the big established players, Casper is likely to struggle to command a major SEO market share any time soon, but their comparative success over the last two years shows they must be doing something right.
Challenge: The difficulties with brand strength
As discussed in our linguistics whitepaper, mattresses don’t automatically conjure up powerful emotions, and it requires some creativity to appeal to users at this level. Mattresses aren’t a product where you would expect consumer-brand identification to have the kind of impact it does for fashion or consumer electronics, particularly as most people only buy a mattress once every several years. Nevertheless, brand strength can be a significant factor in influencing purchase decisions, as even basic recognition of a manufacturer’s name builds trust and this can be of great importance at the top of the funnel.
One common way of measuring brand strength is to look at organic brand search. As “Casper”, taken out of context, has several other meanings, it makes more sense to compare searches for “bett1 mattress” and “casper mattress”, which we can do using Google Trends:
The chart shows that online interest in both mattresses has risen and fallen over the last two years, with neither able to establish any long-term dominance. It is conceivable that the one-off nature of mattress purchases makes it difficult to establish brand loyalty, and means reliance on brand search is unlikely to be a viable strategy for sustainable success.
Solution: Target brand-neutral organic rankings
The answer – if the opportunities from brand search are limited – is to optimize for brand-neutral search queries. In this regard, the mattress industry is like any other. Whatever products is sells, any website looking to expand its reach beyond its existing visitor/customer base will be looking to rank for generic, non-brand keywords. The harder it is to generate brand awareness, however, the more important this will be.
As one indication of how casper.com is performing in organic search, we can look at their first-page rankings for relevant topics that do not include the brand name. The chart shows a selection of keywords, for which casper.com ranks on page 1, including two metrics: search volume and traffic index.
- The search volume is a measure of how many people (in Germany) search for the keyword on Google every month.
- The traffic index provides an estimate of the traffic generated from organic keyword searches, and is based on search volume and casper.com’s ranking position for that keyword. For a closer look at the traffic index, you can deselect search volume from the graph.
The chart shows that casper.com ranks on page 1 for several high-interest keywords, such as “mattresses” and “mattress”, which provide a valuable source of website traffic. In particular, high rankings for generic, informational keywords are useful for capturing potential customers’ attention early in the sales journey.
The period when users are still conducting research is vital, as this is where 80% of searches take place. Here, people look for advice, problems, solutions, product comparisons and reviews. Serving the user intent for these queries and establishing awareness can pay off later in the user journey, when customers come to making more targeted product searches with the aim of conducting a transaction.
Content optimization for organic search performance
Having established the importance of early-funnel traffic, the next question is how to achieve high search engine rankings for awareness and consideration searches. The answer is content optimization. While the content optimization discussed earlier was based on linguistic theories of empathy and emotions, and designed to improve conversion rates, content optimization for search engines focuses on writing texts that will serve the user intent, and improve the chances of high rankings.
Software solutions like the Searchmetrics Content Experience make this possible by analyzing high-ranking competitor pages for use of relevant keywords and other metrics. By using this data, writers can create content that matches or outperforms the competition, which helps improve their organic search performance and drive traffic.
A content analysis of casper.com’s main mattress URL (/matratzen) shows that the text has been well optimized, with an overall Content Score of 91%.
Google isn’t just organic search
As Searchmetrics is a provider of an enterprise SEO and Content platform, we emphasize the benefits of organic search and content optimization, which can give websites a sustainable foundation for long-term success, and the chance to punch above their weight in an often crowded marketplace. However, SEO is often just one (vital) part of a company’s digital marketing strategy, particularly for a smaller company that faces obvious challenges in a straight-up fight for SEO Visibility.
If we look at the SERP Features that appear for keywords Casper ranks for, we see that paid rankings (PLAs and AdWords) play an important role in their market. The orange bars show the proportion of keywords casper.com ranks for, and the blue bars show the total market.
To see what this data looks like on Google, here’s a typical SERP for the keyword “mattress”. You can count a grand total of zero traditional organic rankings visible above the fold. In this example, we see Casper represented with two Google Shopping PLAs and one paid AdWords result:
This isn’t a one-off. Casper makes good use of the Google Shopping (Product Listing Ad) and AdWords channels to occupy a significant amount of real estate at the top of the SERP. A closer look at PLAs and AdWords shows that Casper is the leader in PLAs within its market and only Amazon is significantly better represented in AdWords.
Conclusion: Work for traffic, but don’t forget conversions
Investment in paid search engine advertising for product-related search queries helps ensure that users conducting transactional searches can easily find your products. This can be very important, but is not usually enough on its own. Ideally, paid ads should not replace, but be used in combination with organic SEO, including content optimization, so that potential customers can be reached via multiple channels and at all stages of the sales funnel.
Traffic is great, but it’s conversions that pay the bills. Particularly for a smaller website like casper.com, which can’t rely on vast amounts of brand-driven traffic, the conversion rate is what will ultimately determine the success of their search and content activities. For more information on how you can use linguistic theory to improve your conversion rates, watch the webinar above or click here to download our whitepaper: