“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
Customers First, Search Engines Second…And Sometimes, Search Engines Only.
When we think about search engines all day, it’s easy for SEOs to forget customers. We get so caught up in keyword data, keyword rankings, and search engine traffic, that we it’s easy to jump to the conclusion “if they come, they’ll buy.” It’s also really easy to assume that the only customer data points you need to do SEO are keywords and their search volumes, making us forget about all the other customer data available in your entire company. Merchant data can help you better understand what your customers actually want and buy. E-commerce and IT data can help you understand how a customer actually experiences your site. Marketing data can help you understand loyalty and needs of your customers.
When building SEO strategy, it’s worth meeting with and talking to different areas in the business to understand the customer experience first, and to then design your search engine experience. Remember the 80/20 or 90/10 rule. Most of the company’s business comes from a small assortment of products. Why rank well for high volume terms if it doesn’t meet customer or business objectives?
Most enterprise e-commerce companies are increasingly working on site features that focus on the customer experience. Use SEO to support these initiatives, and don’t get too caught up on best SEO practices if the features are more customer friendly.
Questions Worth Asking
Every retail company needs an Amazon strategy. What value are you providing customers that Amazon isn’t already?
What do traditional/direct marketers in the company know about customers that you don’t?
Who are your main customers, and why do they love/hate your brand?
What does e-commerce know about customer journeys / behavior that you don’t?
What are the year’s trends on the use of technology, aka Mary Meeker’s annual trends report, and how does that impact your strategy?
What shifts in customer habits is your company or website experiencing? Example: desktop to mobile, IE to Chrome, etc.
What does merchandising know about upcoming category or product launches that you don’t, and how can you influence their decision making?
Where does the customer journey for your products or services first start, and how can you use SEO to engage with the customer at that point?
What is your mobile SEO current and future strategy? How do desktop SEO settings affect mobile SEO settings? That is, do all your SEO on-page elements carry over to the mobile version of the site?
What are the key differences between mobile sites, adaptive design, and responsive design for customers and search engines?
How should you plan for rapid implementations when Google announces warnings/recommendations for better mobile or desktop search? For example, if AMP makes significant strides for retail sites and e-commerce pages, how do you make a case and plan to implement it before your competitors?
Does your digital analytics attribution reporting account for multi-tab, multi-browser, multi-device experiences?
If you have brick and mortar locations, what is your local SEO strategy?
When working on technical projects designed to optimize search engine experiences without disrupting customer experience, be firm on your requirements. When supporting projects designed to optimize customer experiences, be flexible. Learn about the customer from as many people in the company as possible, and return the favor by providing customer behavior information from search.