One thing that’s guaranteed is the same look on a client’s face when I explain that SEO is no longer a one-trick pony. It’s not about box-ticking your way to success, it’s not about single keywords, it’s not even about ranking highly for what you would presume to be the perfect keywords to drive traffic. Every search a user makes on a search engine requires a solution to a problem they have. Doesn’t matter if that person is searching for a service, product, or information. The user requires a solution, and optimising for that is the key to SEO success in the current climate. I normally always get the same response: “I never thought about it like that”.
If a business is searching for a marketing agency, the solution they need is an increase in brand awareness, visibility, sales, or leads. If someone is searching for a new coat, they need a solution that either keeps them warm, dry or even just for an outfit piece that doesn’t serve a practical function. If someone is searching for a plumber, the solution they need will most fall under one of the main categories: leaks, installation, cooling or heating.
Let me explain with some examples.
The Marketing Agency
A business will use a marketing agency mainly because of two reasons. The first one is a lack of internal resources. The second one is a lack of internal expertise. The marketing agency then provides solutions to those problems, and typically, at a cheaper rate than hiring multiple people internally to manage multiple services.
Based on that, the marketing agency would optimise their website for the different areas they have expertise in. For example, SEO, PPC, and Social Media. In theory, they’re now ranking for those service keywords and they’re driving a decent amount of traffic, and this is where most would stop. What they’ve failed to consider is the number of solutions that exist within those specific areas. For example:
- How to rank highly on Google.
- Get more traffic to my website.
- How to SEO a website.
- How to optimise Google ads.
- Is Google Ads expensive?
- Increase business likes on Facebook.
- Is Facebook good for business advertising?
The agency provides those solutions under the umbrella of services they provide, but they’re not talking about them, and that means they aren’t ranking for them either. The audience searching for those solutions is lost to another website because the agency didn’t stop to think about how different people search depending on where they are within the customer funnel.
The New Rain Mac
E-Commerce websites as a standard are notorious for thin content, often duplicated, and very often completely useless for anything other than very direct and specific searches. This business is selling a rain mac coat in green available in sizes 8-20. If someone searches the very specifics of that, it’s likely with a decent authority, the e-commerce website will rank.
What haven’t they considered? The solutions the searcher needs the coat for. For example:
- Waterproof rain macs
- Summer rain macs
- Light rain macs
- Showerproof rain macs
- Winter rain macs
- Warm rain macs
- Cool rain macs
It goes much deeper than a green rain mac and this is where the crucial detail and structure come in. It’s not feasible on e-commerce to write unique copy for lots and lots of keywords across lots and lots of products. So your rain macs page now becomes the hub for content related to the solutions. Underneath that, you’re then linking to the green rain mac, and linking back up from the green rain mac. You’ve created this cluster of products and related content which work together to rank you better for a tonne of longtail keywords. The business is now attracting a much bigger audience than before and the more specific the search, the more likely a user is to buy on the first visit.
A plumber would normally cover a few different services, think things like bathroom/kitchen installations, installation of white goods that need a water connection, heating and cooling systems, boiler repairs, emergency plumbing etc. It’s a fairly wide scope of potential services. Naturally, you’d optimise for those services directly with key service pages and some valuable content with appropriate call to actions.
What aren’t they considering? Advice. The opportunity for educational/informational content in this area is huge. For example, if we look at recent search trends, more people are now searching for “how to stop water” than “emergency plumber”.
If water is leaking in your home, you need a solution and fast-turning off the water supply. If you don’t know where that is, or how to do it, the first thing you’re going to do is search for a solution to the immediate problem. How does that help the business increase revenue? It provides an avenue for leads that competitors probably aren’t tapping into. The website visitor searching for how to turn water off is likely to need a plumber to fix the issue and they’re already on your website! That or if they need a plumber in the future, they could remember the business that gave them advice.
Some other examples of educational/informational searches:
- How to install a washing machine
- Do fridges need to be plumbed in?
- What does low pressure on a boiler mean?
- Water leaking through ceiling
- Bath/Sink not draining
Understanding Your Audience
This is such a key part of any strategy that uses informational searches, especially in newer industries, or areas where search volumes are not available or not accurate. Sometimes you need to take the dive and go with your gut instinct. Working with a client historically in the technology sector, we did exactly that, went with our gut instinct and what was supposed to have a search volume of 10-20 a month, ended up bringing in thousands of visitors on a monthly basis, and it led to the takeover of the business by one of the biggest names in technology. We crept up on the competition very fast and it worked very well.
Look outside the box, trust your gut, and get optimised for not only what has reported decent search volumes, but also for what you know your audience is actually going to be searching for. Search Engines know your audience, but they will never know them as well as you.