Attract customers not search engines

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a pretty big deal these days and many organizations spend a lot of time and money researching, testing, and tweaking their websites in an attempt to climb higher on those search engine result lists. The goal has been to drive traffic to the site and, theoretically, convert those clicks into sales. It stands to reason that the more visitors you can attract the more opportunities you have to make a sale.

Unfortunately it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking an SEO-centric overhaul of your site (that results in an uptick of page views) is all you need to do. While it’s hard to argue with an analytics graph showing rising numbers of visitors to your site you have to ask yourself ‘are all your efforts really attracting new customers or search engines?’

We ran across an interesting blog post written by Lee Odden, titled ‘Why A Transition From Optimizing for Search Engines to Optimizing for Customers is Essential.’ Lee talks about the importance of focusing on quality content tailored to your particular customers rather than keywords, tags, and all the other SEO techniques designed to boost search engine results.

Lee points out, “What legacy SEO focused marketers often care about is rankings, organic referred traffic, and page views with trend lines that go up and to the right. There’s not a lot of focus on customer experience, customer journey or differentiation amongst segments.”

He’s not saying to ignore the common sense things that SEO can provide (and search engines are still a good way to attract new customers) but search engines are not the only way that people will find you. Social networks (the new, digital version of word-of-mouth) don’t rely on keywords or tags – they are driven by people.

Word-of-mouth has always been one of the best ways to attract new customers – it might not drive the same volume of new visitors that advertising or contests might, but when someone tells a friend about you and then they visit your site they are much more likely to become a customer rather than just a casual visitor.

If you provide valuable, targeted, compelling content people will hear about it and they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends…etc. And don’t worry, good content is the best SEO these days. These days search engines are focusing less on keywords and metatags and more on content that provides meaningful information for searchers. As Lee says, “the move away from ‘keyword SEO’ to creating useful, customer-centric content that answers their questions is actually good for SEO.”

Lee writes, “the shift from keywords as the driver for content optimization and creation have been displaced by a focus on answering customer questions along the sales cycle.”

His closing remarks hit the nail on the head. “Fundamentally, it comes down to cracking the nut that is your target customer and how solving information problems for them in a way that leads to achieving business goals – leads, revenue, profitability, referrals, lower marketing costs, retention and advocacy.”

You can read Lee’s entire post here

You can also find his book ‘Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing’ here.