Identifying Opportunities in SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) requires a robust toolkit of capabilities both technical and creative, but one of the most common skills missing from the modern tactician is the strategy behind it all.

Kale Hungerson
May 18, 2018 · 5 min read

Many organizations engage with SEO after an executive says “We need to rank #1 in Google”, the job of the SEO is to take that statement and participate in a more strategic investigation of the needs of the business, brand, and digital property.

Contrary to popular belief, SEO is more than keywords, content curation, and high SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). It’s a holistic approach that marries data analysis, testing, customer experience, content strategy, reputation, brand, and social management, technical decision making, and most importantly competitive analysis and market potential/viability.

It is imperative to convince the executive or business owner that an investment into the competitive analysis and market potential for the keywords occurs before tactical execution. This approach is a simple sales pitch “We can spend all of the money on trying to succeed, or we can spend some money identifying where we can succeed.”

Let’s imagine the following fictitious business scenario:

Farresla sells electric vehicles and is considering a spin-off to expand into consumer batteries due to the internal efficiencies the organization has created in lithium-ion battery production. Farresla CEO, Nelon Smusk in a boardroom pushes the concept, and the VP, of Marketing, Robert Boucher, Jr. is tasked with ensuring a low-cost marketing campaign drives the initial concept forward to see if there is market viability. Robert decides he’s going with a digital campaign due to low cost and low barrier. He says to his team “We need to rank #1 in Google!”

Now imagine you’re on Robert’s team sitting in the meeting; what do you do?

If you’re thinking about META tags and HTML structure, you’ve already lost the organization time, money, and reduced your chances of success.

If you’re pondering the customer, market, and experts in and outside of the organization you can speak with to understand the opportunity thoroughly, you’re thinking strategically, and that is where you want to start.

SEO is about identifying the questions in which your future clients have been asking and developing the answers.

After you’ve developed a thorough understanding of the product, customer, and market, you’ll dig into the market viability via keyword and trends research; this will give you the insight required to execute.

You’re going to enter into this stage of SEO asking two questions: What are the primary, secondary and tertiary keywords part of the questions? What is the competition for those keywords?

You’re going to focus on three essential tools: Google, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Trends.

If we refer back to our fictitious business Farresla, we’re looking to compete in the lithium-ion battery space which means we’re going to start our analysis focusing on “Lithium-ion battery” as the subject.

As a first step, let’s review the data Google Trends can provide on the global search trends related to our particular focus. In the image below, we get our first insight requiring investigation. It seems as though Cuba has a high regional search for “Lithium-ion battery.”

We have to ask ourselves “Why?” and if this opportunity is relevant or noise. As you can imagine, this type of insight can drive localization efforts and adjust the entire tactical execution from an SEO perspective, even the fact that not a single listed English language country is in the top 5 regions, may indicate the need for multiple strategies.

Our second insight is quickly visible, “Shark Ion Battery”, this may indicate that Shark is an organization that requires a large supply of Lithium-ion batteries. If Farresla’s strategy is B2B, it may be worth targeting this organization and notifying the sales team as well as building out a plan that answers questions related to wholesale Lithium-ion battery purchases.

After identifying any insights or trends, you’ll move back and forth between Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner, trying to determine the opportunities for existing phrases (combination of keywords), any new nitch opportunities, and also trying to make an assertion of keyword competitiveness based on CPC Adwords spend.

In the image above, the competition for “Buy lithium-ion battery” is high, which indicates many organizations are bidding for that specific combination of keywords, which is a reasonably good indicator that the same organizations are also investing in SEO, but correlation doesn’t mean causation. The assumption requires investigation by searching that particular phrase in Google and analyzing the top 10 SERPs websites for tactical breadcrumbs that would prove an SEO strategy is in place, or if they’re holding the rank due to a lack of competition.

If the competition with an SEO focus is limited based on that phrase, it would be advisable to proceed with a tactical plan, if the competition is steep and many of the organizations holding placement have been holding ground for years, more in-depth analysis for weak points across the competition is required.

Also, a broader review of keyword combinations should be undertaken to determine nitch opportunities; it is often unrealized that a selection of several low competition, low volume nitch keywords can perform higher conversion rates and also higher revenue per item sold, than top traffic keywords.

As you’ve witnessed in a few paragraphs, SEO is far more than 301 redirects and keyword optimized content, SEO requires a back-and-forth between all elements of the organization and is a complicated marriage between creative and analytical thinking.

If you’re thinking of SEO, don’t lose sight of the immense opportunities by focusing on strategy before execution, then go with the ebb and flow and you’ll make a significant impact for the digital footprint of your organization.

Kale Hungerson

Written by

WebDev & MarTech professional with a passion for digital transformation, cold brew ☕, and 🌮s! Follow me @kalehungerson or visit kalehungerson.com.

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