A Holistic SEO Approach: How To Get The Most Out of Search
When we think of SEO, we often think of reaching the #1 spot for our target keywords. While this is important and can drive significant and valuable traffic, we tend to ignore the rest of the buyer's journey.
That #1 spot is only the tip of the iceberg. Because next they click "back" in their browser and they look elsewhere. They look at directories and reviews. They start using branded search terms including yours and your competitors. And if they don't see you in these other searches, that keyword you're ranking #1 for doesn't do you nearly as much good. In this article, we'll dive into what holistic SEO is and how organizations should evaluate their own SEO against this standard.
When we think of SEO, we often think of reaching the #1 spot for our target keywords.
While this is important and can drive significant and valuable traffic, we tend to ignore the rest of the buyer's journey.
That #1 spot is only the tip of the iceberg.
Because while Google does its best to provide the most useful and relevant information at the top, they don't always succeed. In fact, on average 26-70% of users bounce from the landing page they end up on.
Additionally, consumers are no longer satisfied by checking out one search result.
Sarah Kleinburg, Google's Head of Ads Research and Insights has stated, "We're seeing people do more extensive research for both big and seemingly small purchases so they can be confident they're making a good decision. 'Getting the most for my money' is something people told us. That and they want to be sure they won't 'later regret buying the items.'"
As Google's algorithm has grown savvier over the years, so too has the consumer.
But what exactly does this mean for marketers?
The Buyer's Journey
It's pretty simple, really.
If consumers are looking in multiple places to make the best decision, then you need to be in multiple places to influence that decision.
Each one of these touch points gives us another opportunity to leave an impression with them.
The more touchpoints you can create, the more familiar you become to them.
The more familiar you become to them, the more opportunity you have to build trust with them. The more you can build trust with them, the greater the chance you have of being their final stop on their purchasing journey.
It is this view of SEO as a collective of touch points which is what I call holistic SEO. These individual parts are intimately connected and make up the whole of SEO marketing.
Optimizing Your Search Presence
The simplest way to begin putting this knowledge into action is by mimicking your customer's purchasing journey.
By doing so you will be able to see what they see. By illuminating their path, you can strategize how to appear over and over again on it.
But is simply getting in front of your customer over and over again enough?
Creating familiarity is good, but we also need to consider the kind of impressions we're making. Ideally, they're not just seeing our name and logo, but rather our name and logo paired with a positive impression.
Impressing Mrs. Jones
Here's an example. For this example, we're going to refer to our consumer as Mrs. Jones. And you're going to be the owner of a pest control company.
Let's say Mrs. Jones wants to find a local pest control company for her and her family's home. When Mrs. Jones does a search for "pest control companies", the SERP will immediately give her ads, local results, and organic results.
Every single one of those areas is an opportunity for you to leave an impression.
In the ad area, you can leave your mark with the title and description, of your ad. Were Mrs. Jones to click on your ad, you could leave an impression with your landing page.
In the local listings area, you can show off how much your customers love you with ratings and reviews.
In the organic listings section, you can leave an impression with your company name. And again, were Mrs. Jones to click on your landing page you can leave yet another impression.
So far, that's a total of five opportunities for you to get in front of Mrs. Jones.
In the organic listings, you're also going to see a number of directories including Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie's List, or others. Often you'll see as many as three or four directories listed on the first page.
And yup, you guessed it, each directory is another opportunity to make an impression.
Does this apply to more than just local searches?
Yes. Add the keyword "best" in front of any product or service and you've got a laundry list of ads and listings where you can wiggle your way in front of your audience.
And if we go higher up the buyer's journey to the Awareness stage, the opportunities broaden even more as consumers ask questions both directly associated with and tangentially associated with your product or service.
The power of being everywhere is not to be ignored. By doing so and optimizing each impression so that it is a positive one, you undeniably increase your chances of being Mrs. Jones' eventual choice.
What this really comes down to is empathy. The goal of the consumer is to make the best decision by finding the best solution. As marketers, it is our job to make that decision as easy as possible for them.
This means helping them by showing as clearly as we can that our brand is trustworthy and that our product or service is the best choice they can make.
Mrs. Jones has enough on her plate as it is, so we might as well make it our responsibility to make her next purchasing decision just a little bit easier.