Finding SEO tips online is about as easy as finding dust on the top of your door frames. On a daily basis, experts and novices alike publish their SEO tips, challenges, solutions and commentary for all the world to consume. And despite this open faucet of free information, DIY SEOs still have trouble learning what they need to know and executing successful SEO initiatives for their own businesses.
I hope you’re now pondering why that is. Maybe it’s because there are varying opinions about SEO or because some of the published information is inaccurate. Or because some people are just better at learning from online materials than others are. Sure, those are factors. But there’s another reason why DIY SEO is so hard.
It’s because we are too focused on learning and implementing the execution details — which really mean nothing without a viable business strategy. Now I know what you’re thinking. Of course you need a strategy. Duh.
An SEO Problem to Fix
Stay with me here. Let’s say you sell purple widgets in Anytown, USA. And today you decide to search Google for “purple widgets in Anytown, USA.” You see four competitor listings on the page and then yours, which sits in the number 5 spot. You already know most of the traffic goes to the top 3 spots and so it’s clear you’re losing out. What do you do first?
- Research the competing pages and compare them to yours
- Research the competing pages’ incoming links to find link opportunities for you
- Go to your own page and start adding keywords
- Double up on purple widget content in your blog/Twitter/Facebook/Google+ calendar
- Search Google for advice
To be clear, all of the above actions are execution details. In truth, the vast majority of so-called SEO strategies you’ll find via Google are just different ways of executing. In this situation, you can do all of these things and it may not have any impact on your ranking for purple widgets in Anytown USA. Before you spin up resources to chase the details, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The big-picture questions you ask are highly dependent on what you’re selling, but consider these for purple widgets:
- What’s the price point of my purple widgets vs. the higher ranking competitors?
- What’s my shipping cost vs. the competitors’?
- How does my inventory compare?
- How does the user experience on my website compare?
These strategic questions need to come before the SEO execution details for two reasons:
- You cannot game your potential customers. If you show up in the top spot in Google and you don’t have a competitive offering, those folks will not buy from you anyway.
- You cannot game Google long-term. Yes, there are strategies you can take to help your rankings. But ultimately, Google will always adjust to suit the needs of searchers. If searchers aren’t happy with your website, neither is Google.
Once you go through this strategic analysis, you will (hopefully) have an epiphany about your competitive niche. Maybe purple widgets doesn’t actually describe what you sell. Perhaps you sell luxury purple widgets instead. If so, a few tweaks to your site could put you in the top spot for “luxury purple widgets in Anytown, USA.”
You may give up traffic volume for focusing on a subset of the market, but there will be benefits. You’ll increase your conversion rate and you may even sell more units.
If you apply the same theory to paid search and other marketing programs, you’ll also improve the efficiency of your advertising spend. Alternatively, you may realize that you need to invest in more purple widget inventory to make a run at that top spot. A strong product selection has inherent SEO benefits. In the automotive dealership space, for example, it’s a simple truth that dealers with larger inventories have better SEO results.
A Real-Life Example
If you’re still not convinced, here’s a real-life example of solving an SEO problem with a change in business strategy. An ecommerce site in the automotive aftermarket experienced a 20% decline in revenue after losing rank on a few high-volume keywords.
Our team could have chased those keywords with various SEO tactics, but we chose a different solution. The site was rebranded to be a low-cost leader for its product category. Prices were lowered, a price guarantee was implemented and the graphics and site content were updated to communicate the changes. Social media and email channels provided additional promotional support.
The site was suddenly more interesting to the target audience, and the ranking improved. Sales and conversion metrics shot up — to the point that the gross profit increased despite the lower prices. The next time you have an SEO problem to fix, take a step back and consider the big picture before you start brainstorming SEO tactics. Strengthen or refine your business’ value proposition, and you give your SEO efforts a fighting chance for success.
The best SEO providers know this, and will guide you through the big-picture analysis before recommending action items.