‘SEO’ – It can often seem like a blanket answer to any questions about marketing. ‘Why do I need a website?’ SEO, ‘Why do I need blogs?’ SEO, ‘Why do I need social media?’ SEO, ‘Why do I need reviews? You guessed it…. S.E.O!
This might make you begin to question the legitimacy of SEO, you may ask yourself, ‘if everything is to help SEO, does each tactic I invest in get diluted by this seemingly never-ending list of requirements?’
The thing is, the Google algorithm isn’t trying to ensure you burn through your marketing budget just to spite you. It is genuinely trying to ensure the best experience for its users. If there were only 10 ‘ranking factors’, it would be easy for companies with the largest budgets to ‘cheat’, as they could invest heavily in exploiting those factors. Instead, there are over 200 known ranking factors and hundreds more that are not.
Every change to the algorithm is trying to optimise user experience, of course some of these factors are very technical such as website security and core-web-vitals. These factors can’t be ignored and are important to get right, ensuring you have good web developers who are experts in technical SEO is crucial for your SEO strategy.
Beyond the more technical aspect, to try to meticulously tick off each known and speculated factor would be time-consuming and perhaps a waste of time, as it is constantly changing. Instead, it’s best to put your efforts into providing the best and most authentic experience for your customers, and you will be rewarded for it.
A humans experience with SEO
So instead of trying to conquer the algorithm, take a step back and focus on your customers’ experience. If we go back to our questions and apply them to a real-life customer situation, you can see why all these SEO ranking factors matter.
Let’s imagine you have a Bonsai tree pot shop called ‘BonsaiPots.com’. Susan, a proud plant mom, wants a new pot for her bonsai tree. She doesn’t know or care about SEO, but she does care about getting the best pot for her bonsai tree. Now you ask those same questions.
‘Why do I need an optimised website?’
Susan is researching what pots to buy on her morning commute on her phone. She goes to a website her friend recommended but it takes ages to load so she leaves, she then tries another but it’s not mobile optimised and without her glasses, she cannot read it. Finally, she comes across BonsaiPots.com which is a fast mobile-friendly site and stays for a browse as she enjoys the experience.
‘Why do I need blogs?’
Susan isn’t sure about what elements of a pot matter when buying a Bonsai tree pot. So, she googles a few queries she has, such as ‘What size pot do I need for a Bonsai tree?’, ‘How many holes does a Bonsai tree pot need to have?’ and ‘What shape should a bonsai tree pot be?’. Your website has blog posts on these very topics, and although your website wasn’t on the first page for ‘Bonsai tree pots’, it has ranked for these queries.
Now that Susan has spent time on your website learning about pots, she finds herself looking at your pot selection. She trusts the quality of your pots more now, as your website seems to be the expert in bonsai tree pots and she thinks ‘perhaps these pots are superior, as they come from a company with expert knowledge.’
‘Why do I need social media?’
Although your blogs were very helpful, Susan still has one question about your delivery options. She finds emailing too formal and prefers to contact companies via social media. She finds a link to BonsaiPots.com Instagram account at the bottom of your website, exactly where she expected it to be. She sends you a direct message with her query, you reply within 10 minutes and explain the options to her.
In the conversation, you mention that you are the owner and that you make these pots yourself. She is delighted by the prompt reply and having spoken to the owner, she feels like she’s dealing with a person rather than a ‘giant corporation’ and is more emotionally connected to BondaiPots.com.
‘Why do I need reviews?’
Susan is now pretty set on buying one of your pots. When deciding between her favourite pots, a blue one and a green one, she reads the product reviews for each to compare. The tree she is going to pot is a Chinese Elm tree, many reviews for the blue one comment on how the colour and shape of the pot is ’perfect’ for a Chinese Elm tree. Susan is delighted to read this and decides this is the pot for her.
Before she clicks ‘buy now’, she reads some Google reviews on your business, you have over 200 reviews with a 4.5 star rating. Reviewers have commented on the quality of your pots, your excellent customer service and your easy return policy. There are a few low ranking reviews that said their pots arrived broken, Susan can see that you replied promptly, apologising for the damage and that you have sent a new one along with a full refund for the inconvenience. She is impressed by your generous customer service. Confident that your company is trustworthy and that your pots are of high quality, she makes the purchase.
As you can see, if you change your perspective on SEO ranking factors from a focus on an algorithm, to a focus on delighting customers, it becomes a lot easier to understand.
People will talk about the days when companies could simply buy backlinks and apply ‘keyword stuffing’ to their content to rank, but those days are behind us. Search engines have become smarter and rather than trying to outsmart them with the latest SEO spamming techniques, it’s better to work with them. Once you have ensured the technical aspects are up to standard, the rest of the ranking factors can be achieved by optimising the customer experience wherever possible.