I just got off the phone with one of our SEO clients. She's running a small business, been in business for about 3 years now, and is very eager to start getting better results online. First, she signed up for our Social Blogging Service and started seeing the critical importance of Content & Social to her online exposure. But like a lot of small business owners, SEO is one of her top concerns. Like a lot of small businesses, she wants to get top rankings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing for her 10 or so "trophy keywords."
I'm sharing this with you because my conversation with this particular client ultimately focused around one key question: What is the goal of SEO? The answer I shared with her is so important, I wanted to be sure to share it here on our blog for with you too.
Why Is SEO Important?
Before I can really explain the true underlying goal of SEO, we need to take a step back and explore why SEO is important and why you should even care.
SEO is important because it's one of the fastest ways to open the floodgates of qualified traffic to your website. The key term there is "qualified." I can think of many ways to get loads of traffic to your website tomorrow, but it's the qualified traffic that really counts. Where qualified traffic converts at 1%-10%, unqualified traffic will usually convert at less than 1%. That's a lot of zeroes between you and success.
Qualified traffic is important because it means new leads, which means new sales, which means new customers. In other words, SEO has major potential to grow your business.
That last statement is something you don't want to miss: SEO can help you get qualified traffic to grow your business.
Don't Miss The Forest (SEO) For The Trees (Business Growth)
SEO is a pretty darn complicated process. There are a lot of steps involved, a lot of moving parts if you will. That's exactly why it's so easy to get all caught up with the little details of how SEO works that you end up mistaking the process for the goal. Now, the process is very important. You want to respect the process because it's something that will be on-going and really never-ending.
But the major mistake you want to avoid is getting wrapped up in achieving top rankings without really knowing where those rankings are going to take your business.
I always remind our clients that SEO is a little bit "art" and a little bit "science." Some of the work you do is going to lead you to a very clear destination (e.g. you create a highly targeted landing page with a trophy keyword phrase in mind and eventually you get top rankings with that page). But a lot of the work you do is going to yield unexpected positive results (e.g. you publish 100 blog posts and start getting floods of new long tail traffic for keywords you never expected to have an impact).
Target The Top And Hit The Tail
I'm sure you're familiar with the expression "Shoot for the stars and reach the moon," right? That's sort of the same mindset you want to bring to the table with SEO. Going after those trophy keywords (the stars) is an excellent way to achieve a meaningful goal (the moon).
This is exactly why my answer to the question "what is the goal of SEO?" is that the true goal is NOT about top rankings for trophy keywords. Nope. The true goal of SEO is making meaningful changes to your website to help you attract new qualified visitors through many unexpected channels. The true goal is to improve the content, structure, and overall performance of your website so you can become a much larger net to capture many more fish.
Just be sure you take this metaphor to heart and don't waste your SEO energy on trying to bag a whale. 🙂