When you speak to a search marketer about Search Engine Optimisation; very quickly the conversation can move to the technical aspects of SEO. Breaking it down to the nuances of offsite and onsite SEO. Understanding how the tags on a page need to interact with the URL; headline and image alt-text. And this is all great and valuable discussion; but this conversation misses out on one critically important aspect…
What are you trying to get the page to rank for?! The theory of SEO hinges on the keywords that you choose to rank for and more importantly the search terms.
Think about this for a second. Google says that on average a person looks at 24 unique research touch points before they buy a new car. so let’s assume you are about to buy a new car and you want to search for that car online. What do you search for? More than likely you will search for the cars that you have been thinking about based on some of the other research touch points (radio, tv, poster, word of mouth). So your searches would look like: “Ford Focus hatch1.6”; “Land Rover Discovery 2014” ; etc. Maybe you are nonplussed as to the brand so you search features; “hybrid small hatch”; “rugged outdoor SUV”.
In the searches and the train of thought above; did it ever cross your mind to search for “new car”; “new car Joburg”; “red car that goes fast”…??? I’m willing to bet not; so why then do we tolerate it when search professionals start telling us the useless keywords that our brands are ranking for?!
No one in their right minds is going to go search “new car” land on your site and be compelled to buy that new car (unless your site design is legendary!).
Search is more about the content that your site is displaying and the psychology of why that content matters to your audience than it is about the technical backdrop of the site itself.
When putting content together for your site or your blog it is vitally important to remember what that content is meant to achieve. Writing content about “new car” is not going to achieve anything. Aligning your content to the personas who are looking for solutions.
Which brings me neatly to my next point. People do not search their problems – they search for the solutions to their problems. You are not going to search for “I have a headache” to find a cure for your headache; you are rather going to search for; “headache cures”; “headache remedies”; alternatives to asprin”; etc.
Understanding your audience and their needs is critically important to achieving the goals that you set for your site. Without their knowledge your site may do incredibly well for a small and unique set of keywords that no one actually cards about!