This blog article is a guest post from Courtney McGhee of WooRank.
Quite frankly, people have been defining SEO wrong for years.
Go ahead and Google it.
Search engine optimization is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.
That’s what appears in SEO’s knowledge panel result in Google’s search results. And while that might work for someone writing a dictionary, it doesn’t do much for you or me.
Instead, it’s better to think of SEO like this:
Making sure the right people can find your business when they’re looking for it.
Does SEO Impact the Real World?
It sure does!
While you may think SEO doesn’t matter much for your brick and mortar shop, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Almost everyone uses a search engine to find information these days. According to a study by Acquisio, 87% of people use a search engine to find a local business. Only 70% said they use the business’ website.
Even more impressive: 75% of those searches with the intent to find a local business result in a store visit.
And the most impressive stat: 30% of those in-store visits result in a purchase.
What other channel drives a 30% conversion rate?
So we know your SEO efforts can really drive measurable real-world results. But does it work in the other direction?
Use the Offline World to Impact SEO
The fact is, improving your website’s SEO will yield tangible offline benefits for your business. However, you can also use the interactions you have with your customers offline to improve SEO.
So let’s dig in and find offline opportunities to improve your website’s SEO.
Know Your Customers
Your offline interactions with your customers will help your SEO at step 1: building marketing personas.
Also sometimes called buyer personas or profiles, these personas represent a generic template of the people your business is trying to reach and help. Marketing personas help to define customers’…
- Needs to be met
- Challenges to overcome
- Barriers to purchase
This persona information is often collected through websites either through an analytics provider (like Google Analytics) or a form during a sign-up process. But GA demographics and interests data has its limitations.
Instead, let your actual customers do the talking.
Especially if you’re a smaller local business, taking the time to talk to your customers in your store will give you insights into why they come to your store and how you can position your website to be relevant to those reasons.
If you’re a bigger business, ask to schedule face-to-face interviews with your customers. You might be surprised at how willing people are to talk with you.
Answer Their Questions
Thanks to the Hummingbird update and advances in natural language processing, Google is transitioning (or has transitioned) into an “answer engine.” Meaning, people use Google not to find particular web pages as much as they are looking for information to answer questions or solve problems.
So the best way to improve your SEO?
Answer your customers’ questions about your business.
And your customers are the perfect resource for this.
Start with your customer service team. Have them keep a list of questions they field from customers, prospective customers, and people who just want to know more about you. Include the questions they ask, your answers and any follow-up questions or comments they have. Use these records to decide:
- The best way to craft your keyword strategy
- What information to include on About Us and/or product pages
- Which features to showcase and concerns to address
You could just answer customer questions without incorporating it into your SEO strategy, but you should know that if someone is calling you, they’ve absolutely looked for it online first.
So you’ll not only improve website and store traffic, you’ll improve your customers’ experience as well.
And happy customers buy more.
Positive Feedback Loop
Keeping records of your offline interactions with customers will help you build a better product, store or customer service experience when you apply it offline. However, there’s no reason you can’t use it to build on and power your online presence through improved SEO.
In fact, if you apply the insights you gain from learning about your customers, answering their questions and completing offline sales to your on-page SEO, keyword research, and content marketing, you’ll be able to build a positive feedback loop between your physical store and your website.
Courtney McGhee is the Lead Marketer at WooRank. Courtney has experience in Digital Marketing, News Reporting, and Social Media. She switched gears after 7 years as a journalist to join the ever-changing world of SEO. WooRank is a is a fast, easy-to-use SEO audit and digital marketing tool.
WooRank looks at your site through Google’s eyes and generates an instant audit of your site’s technical, on-page and off-page SEO. To learn more about WooRank, visit https://www.woorank.com/.