SEO – Why Do We Make It So Difficult?

Isn’t it annoying when you are running a bit late but you have to wait for a colleague to search for something? Why have they always lost their glasses case, their mobile or their car keys? I find this ludicrously frustrating because I just can’t understand why they can’t be more organised. It seems that in life there are ‘putters’ and ‘leavers’. I fall into the first category: I put things in the place where they belong and therefore always know where to find them. Some people, unfortunately for me, are ‘leavers’ and constantly waste extraordinary amounts of time trying to find where they have left their stuff!

So, you may ask, what has this got to do with SEO? My reason is simple: Google is a ‘putter’ and likes to find everything in its place. If you scatter information around, dilute good content with clutter, Google gets more frustrated than I am… trying to help someone find the glasses that are on their head.

Organise for others not yourself

When you walk into a supermarket, you are never faced with items placed randomly around the aisles in no particular order. You find logical segmentation: there are specific aisles or sections for fruit and veg, cleaning products, bread, and so on. You don’t have to walk up and down each aisle looking for the items you want – you simply look for the sign-post and go to where you need to be.

Your website is your supermarket. You need to fill it with content that people are looking for and then make sure that it is easy to find. The structure of your site should not be based on how you organise or division your company; it should be centred around how your buyers think and look for things.

Start with the search terms

Most people create their website and then retrospectively try to optimise it for search engines. This is what makes SEO so difficult.

The right approach is to put yourself in the mind of the buyer. What are they looking for? What terminology do they use, and how do they categorise what they are looking for? This example is pretty old now, but some years ago ‘call centres’ evolved into ‘contact centres’. All the market leaders replaced every occurrence of ‘call centre’ with ‘contact centre’ on their website. The problem was that buyers were still searching for ‘call centres’ and ironically, no one had thought to contact them to ask.

The structure and content of your website should be driven by what your potential buyers are searching for and use the language that they use. In doing this you automatically structure your site in a way that supports SEO. Each area of interest has its own page and its own set of search terms that allow your buyers to find it.

We have no patience to ‘Search’

To be honest, I don’t know why they call them search engines, when we don’t want to search, we want to find. We have no patience to search through a list of results or read through a stack of text; we want to instantly see the information we want, in an easily-digested format on our screen. Here is another secret: if you try to fool the search engines, you are only fooling yourself.

A lot of people become obsessed with SERP position rather than the underlying objective. I would sooner get 10 relevant people to my webpage rather than 100 irrelevant people who just bounce off my site. Planting hundreds of industry keywords all over your site might increase traffic but it won’t convert buyers. Again, it is key that you think like the buyer – what are they looking for? Ensure you are not just found by them, but that you serve up highly relevant content that proves you have what they want.

Don’t let the Science distract you

SEO does not have to be difficult, but we often make it difficult. A lot of companies work to hard to effectively ‘play’ or ‘fool’ the search engine rather than just simply leveraging the strength of the search engine.

SEO does not start with the science, it ends with it. The first part needs the Marketer. You need to understand your audience, their language and needs, and you need to align your messaging to speak to them, and only then do you need to apply SEO science to link these together.

Gary is the Managing Director of Cremarc, a specialist B2B marketing company that helps organisations to deliver effective marketing through storytelling, marketing automation and cleverly designed ‘challenger marketing’.