Business & Economy

Wednesday, 31 July 2019 09:03

Are you optimizing for SEO or for customers?

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By Michael Walker, Gumtree SA Digital Marketing Manager

If you had to pinpoint the one thing in-house SEO professionals need today to have an impact, it would be a seat at the boardroom table. In 2019, it has become imperative to think bigger than clicks and links, because simply sending traffic to your site, when competitors are investing in improving their user experiences and their products, simply doesn't cut it anymore. 

I'm not a fan of the term optimisation, it implies that SEO professionals should focus on making the best of what they have to work with and little else. There is only so much that a SEO professional can do to create content and refine targeting; it is more important to really dig into the business to find levers for success. A great ranking won't assist you if your brand fails to deliver on its promises offline.

Branding and SEO should work together. As some experts have pointed out, there's no point in ranking number 1 for ‘taxi’ if everyone is typing Uber into the search bar. SEO can be a great asset for informing and evolving brand strategy if it’s utilised strategically.

In addition, it is crucial to look at the fundamentals of your website - hosting, protocol, security, architecture, navigation, user experience. If you aren't building on a strong foundation, the whole thing could collapse. How does the customer journey fit in and extend beyond the site? Do your pages contain multiple ways for readers to absorb the content? Infographics, images and video can go a long way when it comes to engagement. Have you tried to improve site speed? Small changes can lead to large improvements. 

Once your fundamentals are firmly in place, examine your content with a critical eye. Social sharing is diminishing rapidly, as consumers prefer to send content to their contacts privately. Authoritative research and well-written content designed to build up your brand's reputation remain winners. Andy Crestodina, the Founder of Orbit Media, points out that Google has 2000+ Mathematics PhDs on staff: "If you made the best page on the internet for your topic, there are 2000 Math PhDs trying to help you. If you didn’t make the best page on the internet for your topic, there are 2000 Math PhDs trying to stop you."

Our tendency to churn out as much content as quickly as possible doesn't always serve our business. Building the best possible page for your topic always does - make it readable, relevant and easy to absorb if you want to keep your customer on the site.

Marketing is slowly shifting its focus to the area where it packs the biggest punch: customer experience. The only formula for success is a quality product or service, combined with a solid foundation and great content. It's time to look beyond the pages, break out of our silos and focus on the bigger picture.

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Bio: Michael Walker heads up digital marketing @ Gumtree co.za. He has over 17 years of experience in the online world, across e-commerce and heading up paid search & analytical teams at award-winning digital agencies.

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