Figuring out what to do next, where to put your energy, is one of the most crucial skills to develop when running your own business.
To make this decision a bit easier, let me tell you that traditional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) very likely shouldn’t be on that list of things to care about.
Exceptions first: When is SEO important?
SEO is most crucial for local businesses. Are you running a Yoga studio in Waikiki? There are certainly search terms that you want to be found with, starting with the obvious “yoga waikiki”.
Meaning your site should be optimized for ranking for that, and related, search terms.
So, rule #1: When a location/city/state/region is super relevant for your business, the common on-site SEO strategies are worth looking into.
There’s also a rule #2, but it’s fuzzier. Generally, when there is a low competition search term (not: “web design”) that is very likely to convert those visitors into customers, it’s worth looking into SEO. While this might be too fuzzy at this stage, please hang on! Once you’ve read through the following paragraphs, it’ll be more clear if that applies to you, or not.
Very likely it won’t.
So why isn’t it important for the rest of us?
Many of us offer some sort of coaching, teaching or consulting service or products to be purchased online. That could be life coaching sessions, it could be nutrition info products, or it could be creative consulting.
And that works entirely differently from marketing a local business. Here’s why:
Let’s say you are a life coach offering Skype sessions. Let me guarantee you: no one in your entire career will become your client after googling for “life coach skype session”.
(If your career depended on that, it could be very short).
More controversial example: You’re a raw food chef selling recipes in the form of ebooks. The chance is higher that someone relevant will arrive at your site by googling for “raw food recipe” – however you will never rank properly for that search term. It’s too competitive, there are too many strong sites already fighting for a spot on Google’s page one.
This is why you shouldn’t spend time and money optimizing your sites for keywords like “life coach skype session” or “raw food recipe”.
What you should do instead
Still, the goal is filling your sales funnel online, right?! Here’s a way better working strategy than common SEO:
Publish relevant content.
Relevant for whom? Super glad you asked! Relevant for the person that might also google for “raw food recipe”. But more long-tail, meaning more precise. Relevant for your business avatar.
If you, over time, publish 50 recipes on your raw food blog, chances are that someone will find your “Raw Kale Spaghetti with Ginger Pesto Recipe” article by googling for something very close to that. For example googling “raw kale spaghetti recipe”.
And here it comes:
Not only is that person who finds your site via this specific search term interested in that specific recipe. You can safely assume that he/she is also a potential customer for your recipe ebook.
And remember: in this fictitious scenario you have 50 recipe articles, resulting in multiple chances of ranking for long-tail keywords. Therefore multiple potential customers.
Wait, how about “common SEO” for those long-tail articles?
Yep, that’s right. It’s obviously good if that relevant, quality content, which you’ll ideally be publishing in noteworthy quantities, is optimized for ranking on Google.
But this can safely be done in an 80–20 fashion. Meaning if you fill out the WordPress meta box of the WordPress SEO plugin (that you should be using), you’re usually good.
Don’t write for a keyword. Better write great stuff.
Nothing wrong with “common SEO” – however it might not be the most important thing to take care of, as long as you don’t run a local business.
Better focus on publishing quality content that is relevant for your potential customer. This brings more relevant visitors to your website than spamming keywords. And it’s so much more 2015.