People Search for Answers, not Keywords
Ian Lurie Feb 7 2008
75% of all those online will use a search engine to find you. But they’re not looking for keywords. They’re looking for answers.
You may be inclined to modify your entire site to get that top spot for ‘mufflers’. It’s a nice, juicy keyword. If you get the top ranking for it, your boss will smile and you’ll be off the hook for a few weeks.
Here’s the problem: People don’t search for ‘mufflers’. They search for things like ‘low cost mufflers’ or ‘muffler for 57 Chevy’ or ‘How do I know if I need a new muffler’.
Your boss may smile at first, but when he realizes he’s not selling anything he’ll start frowning.
Keywords Don’t Matter. Answers Do.
Keywords do matter of course. But only if the keywords or phrases themselves help someone answer a question.
Here’s a real-life example: A site doesn’t rank in the top 5 for any competitive phrases in their industry. Their organic search traffic triples, and their conversion rate from organic search improves by 5:1.
How’s that happen?
They are giving their audience answers, not keywords. They focused on making their site search-friendly, so that the search engines can properly access and categorize their content.
The search engines reciprocate by giving them high rankings for the most relevant phrases.
Their visitors get what they want and respond accordingly.
Answer-focused SEO will help your entire internet marketing strategy. That’s more important than the happy feeling you get from a #1 position, trust me.
So focus on answers, not keywords.
Keywords are important. Don’t get me wrong. You have to pick the right ones. But crushing your site’s will to persuade just to get 2 spots higher on Google does you no good.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More