The biggest challenge with (not provided) is re-educating clients

I have to admit losing 90% of keyword data is a kick in the gonads for marketers, but it’s not the keyword data loss I’m worried about.

It’s the re-education of clients that I’m worried about.¬†Starting from scratch.

re-educating clients SEO

Most of my clients came to the table with the usual “We want to rank on page 1 for X,Y and Z”.

Keyword data was so easy to understand. It was tangible. That’s why clients love it.

It was easy to say whether someone was looking for my product specifically or whether they were just searching for a generic term. There was intent in the search term which could help to qualify a lead (researching or specifying?).

It was easy to see the growth in visitors from non-branded search terms (new acquisition strategy is working).

It was easy to see the growth in branded search terms (brand awareness campaigns having an impact).

It was also easy to see that more quality enquiries were coming from those who used more than 4 words in their search phrase.

Long tail, schlong snail. Forget it now. Scrap those long tail cartoony graphs too whilst you’re at it.

“What do we do now?” asked a client this week.

I replied “We have to focus more ¬†now on page content, quality, usability, conversions, speed, accessibility and rankings”. We were focusing on this already to some extent but keyword data was always so much more actionable.

And then it hit me “I’m going to have to re-educate every client to rely less on keyword data for a heap of marketing tactics and measurement”.

“Yeah ok, whatever, but what did they search for?”

I’ve yet to see a post on re-educating the client in practically a non-keyword world. I mean most business owners and senior marketers in the construction industry only really see SEO as a keyword driven tactic and ranking on page 1 for X,Y, Z means success.

It’s taken me the best part of 2-3 years just to educate clients that, in construction, it’s about the long tail and low volume, high quality.

Talk to a Managing Director of a Facade manufacturer about conversion rate optimisation and you might have them go cross eyed.

So, what is an SEO’er or digital marketer to do?

I know what can be measured now to certain degree (e.g Google traffic entering through XXXX number of pages over time) but I don’t know if it’s going to be as actionable or carry the same value for the client as actionable keyword data.

The whole re-education of the client thing needs thinking about. It may even tell you which clients are willing to re-learn and those who simply aren’t willing to re-learn.

It will require a mind shift from keywords to URL’s.

It will require marketers to really focus on their own internal site search engine.

It will require learning about usability and CRO.

It will require closer collaboration with other business departments to understand what type of information the customer needs and at what stage.

Heck, it might even mean regular research, focus groups or one-to-ones with key audiences to understand their information needs.

Just re-read those back again for a second.

Sounds more exciting and challenging no?

Does to me. But re-educating the client has to come first.

That’s what I’ll be working on for the next few months anyway. You?


2 thoughts on “The biggest challenge with (not provided) is re-educating clients

  1. Simo Ahava

    Thank you for the read, Pritesh.

    I, for one, believe that our clients are better off. After all, what does (not provided) force us to do, in practice?

    Focus on content top-down, not bottom-up.

    With clients unfamiliar to SEO, I’ve had to explain what keywords are, why we focus on them, and still I think they’re left wondering: “how do these micro-segments relate to the content experience my site promotes?”.

    With this change, we’re taking content analysis, creation, and optimization back to what it should have been all along: contextualized, holistic, experience-driving, interconnected, ENGAGING stories, which involve and participate the reader on a page-level, not word-level.

    Sure, we still have to make sure that search queries are factored into our content creation. But that’s where a sound content strategy steps into place: if the page focuses on a single theme or topic, and if you employ enough semantic variation and context around that topic, you’re generating long tail possibilities almost automatically.

    The most important thing to do is stop crying over lost keywords. Let’s go to our clients and show them that this is an opportunity, not a threat. Re-education is exactly what this is, since the knowledge was there to begin with, before we started confusing them with keywords and disconnected, micro-level content creation.

    Simo Ahava


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