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Why Is The Answer In Seo Always "Think About Your Audience"

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#1 Thejspot


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:03 AM

I love this discussion board. I check it daily, but there always seems to be someone who, in response to any question about SEO/SEA from someone who is trying to rank a commercial site better, always answers something like "what ever is best for the people viewing the site".

Now wouldn't we all be out of a job if we did whatever is best for the people viewing the site? We do what is best for our customers. The people paying us to make their websites.

Sometimes what is 'best' is best for both. Sometimes adding keyword rich and informative content to a site gets you a better ranking and provides something interesting for your viewers to read. But at the end of the day, who among us is building websites with the sole purpose of enriching the global consciousness with knowledge?

Of course, we need to provide something for the viewers out there to 'view'. But really, isn't this secondary to delivering a product to them?

I guess I'm just saying to the people who's answer to the question "how do I rank my website better?" is think of the people!!! I would say 'who you foolin?'.

#2 A.N.Onym


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:27 AM

As you have rightly put, if you don't drive sales to your primary client, you are out of job. Now, the point is to drive profit to your client, right?

Knowing the product and site audience gives you the following:
- knowledge of what they need and an opportunity for you to give it to them, thus creating an interesting offer/website
- actually selling your offer (or at least providing something useful, such as a blog post to read and link to)
- better response from the audience, giving you feedback, more info, more loyal customers, a chance to improve the product
- gives room for word of mouth, since people are more likely to talk about your product
- when relating to websites, knowing words your audience uses gives you a chance to be found, especially if you know lesser known words, such as local slang names for localities (names for city areas, cities, states, etc) such as Soho, etc.
- knowing your audience, you'll know what kind of a response will be to the form your offer is in. Fashionable shopping women may be interested in more graphic images, than hardcore PC hardware hunting professionals, less text and less specification details

In essence, everything you do should be determined by your target audience. How well you go with it depends how successful you are with selling your product and how happy your direct client is.

Thus, to please your immediate customer, you need to know your client's audience and provide value to it to be more successful.

So no, that's not really a useless advice.

Another answer you might find in this forum is "it depends". Normally, it depends on your target audience and each individual case.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 25 September 2007 - 04:28 AM.

#3 projectphp


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:40 AM

You have it a bit wrong. It is what is best to make the users do what you them (and they want to) do. Read this classic Ammon article to understand how the two can "collide".

#4 Voytec


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:46 AM

What is “best for the people viewing the site” could be quality content, of course, but doesn’t have to be. I can imagine people linking to your site because is has brilliant graphic design and usability, why not? Any blogger would be happy to recommend his readers exceptional sites, even if they are pure e-commerce, with no ‘readable’ content. If there is nothing linkable on your website, why do you think you should deserve to be on the first page of Google? You can pay for that, ok, but building value on your website is so much better for your business in the long term.

#5 Black_Knight


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 04:53 AM

wouldn't we all be out of a job if we did whatever is best for the people viewing the site? We do what is best for our customers. The people paying us to make their websites.

And who pays them? You?

I wrote five different replies and each was unrepeatable.

If you don't know why people are telling you that, and you really think they are kidding themselves, walk away from this business.

They are not kidding. You just aren't mature enough, or perhaps lack a large enough perspective of the world, to see that your customer is just a middleman - the end user is paying them to pay you. The end user is your true customer, except only where your role is to hoodwink or force people into deals they don't want.

Anytime you are pushing something beyond the way the end-user wants it pushed you are destroying a small part of the internet. You are making it that bit less attractive to someone, or even lots of someones. You're a spammer.

You don't want to go that route. Or if you do, you'd better accept that I want to butcher you with a rusty spoon and a coat-hanger, and am not kidding in the least.

#6 Thejspot


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 05:11 AM

Dear Black_Knight,

I do not want to erode your vision for the internet away with my attitude to online marketing, partly as the idea of being butchered with a coat hanger and a rusty spoon doesn't appeal to me.

I am young, and am learning. I guess my question really could have been, do we give viewers what they need or what they want? With marketing, aren't we creating a want? A desire? If I am in online marketing isn't that my job? And is the want is real, am I a spammer?

If McDonalds gave customers what they need, I don't think they would have much left on the menu.

I do take your point that the end viewer is my customer. But I haven't gotten one cheque from anyone to help me pay my rent because a site I wrote made them happy???

I'm seriously open for education here. I'm still not completely on the dark side.

#7 A.N.Onym


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 07:21 AM

Ammon, please allow me to partly disagree with you.

While I'd join you in the process of slicing a spammer with a rusty spoon and a coat hanger, I think we should give some room to live for those, who try to learn how marketing works.

Three years ago, I wasn't even a marketer and I only started reading Cre8asite forums. Without your, Bill's, Kim's and others advice, I wouldn't make it far to make my online marketing efforts effective. (So instead of not hiring me for the absence of results, they don't hire me, because they don't understand it requires time and effort to see results, but that's another story).

As for what concerns Thejspot, I think we should give him a chance to learn how to do things right and make everyone, including direct client, his clients and himself happy.

Now that the question has been clarified, it is quite another matter and another question.

Let's dissect the McDonalds example.

Initially, McD (if you allow me to shortcut) satisfied a growing, uncovered need of fast food. That's where the industry got its name from. People could come in, grab a burger and a coke, eat fast and leave. The products were probably based on:
- what can satisfy hunger most efficiently (studies have shown cheese+butter is best, even w/o bread. I suspect meat works the same way, too)
- the products that can be produced for such food
- personal preferences (including customers' preferences).

Now you ask, would McDonalds be successful if it gave them what they needed? At the time, it did give that to them so it has become successful.

You may argue that what they really need is healthy food. That's a whole another matter, and there's a whole growing movement of organic, healthy food, without holesterole-creating food, sugar-burstying drinks and so on. There's another need, but it may not directly match with the fast food need.

So, as you can see, if you satisfy one important need of a customer, you can win. However, given the McD example, you need to watch and follow the customers' demand to continue provide what they need.

Now the need turns towards fast And healthy food, so McD seems to be making some moves to this direction, too.

So it's all about the customer, really.

And, answering your last question, if you have provided a useful offer to the end customers, for which they have paid, they have indirectly paid to you for your efforts.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 25 September 2007 - 07:33 AM.

#8 cre8pc


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 07:22 AM

McDonalds IS giving people what they need because they were losing business by not doing so. The backlash against poor ingredients and fatty, non-nutritious food was tremendous. (Added..Yuri and I were both thinking of Big Macs at the same time ;-) )

When they started to clean up their menu, other fast food establishments followed their example.

I'm wondering if you're thinking of persuasive design. This is tied to the Usability and Human Factors fields. Site design is intended to be optimized for search engines and the follow through is the vital next connector point - meeting the needs of site visitors who arrive by enabling them to complete tasks.

The holistic view of web design takes into account the stakeholder (who pays the bills), business and functional requirements for the site, goals/priorities (a goal can be conversions, for example), marketing (on and offline), data analysis, user testing...a long list. It all has value and when taken together, all ties back to the people who use the site.

#9 businessservicesuk


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 08:22 AM

People that ask the question, how do I rank my website better, have generally already made mistakes. You need to research what you need to do, before your website is built. It's like buying a sports car and then saying how do I get a licence.

Generally there are only 2 tasks that are needed to make a website rank better

Gain good quality inbound links
Add interesting unique content on a regular basis.

All the other aspects of SEO should have been incorporated into the site during the design phase. The fact they are not is the reason why people struggle, no matter how hard they work.

#10 SEOigloo


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 05:33 PM

Hi TheJSpot,
Welcome to Cre8asite! You've gotten some awfully good replies here.

I thought I would add, just having hung up the phone after one of the conversations I seem to have with new potential clients every week, it seems to me that the process goes something like this:

-Client comes to you with product or service. Their goal = to make money.

-You explain to the client, briefly at first, that they will have their best shot at making money if they go about this by a)understanding what their customers want, b)giving it to them in the easiest possible way, c)always remembering how search engines 'see' things. All of these basic factors link to each other and play off of one another. You have to look at the whole picture.

-You please the end user, the client makes money, is delighted with how you helped them and sends you more work.

Yes, you are paid, in the initial scheme of things, by the client. But they are paying you to help them reach and please the customers who pay them. Avoid seeing this as a one-time deal, as gravy for a designer/SEO/marketer comes in when their original client base begins referring them out to all of their colleagues and friends because they are delighted with the service rendered. Every time you help a client profit, you are creating a potential for future profit for yourself.

You are doing the right thing asking these questions now and starting to learn about all of this.

On a side note, Yuri -

So instead of not hiring me for the absence of results, they don't hire me, because they don't understand it requires time and effort to see results, but that's another story

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: You made me take too big of a gulp of my iced tea. Haha.


#11 Black_Knight


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 07:59 PM

Of course, we need to provide something for the viewers out there to 'view'. But really, isn't this secondary to delivering a product to them?

've made this point a few times before, but it bears repeating - almost like a mantra: Nobody ever came online because they wanted a new way to spend money.

There isn't a Joe Schmoe out there who thought to himself, "Gee, I really am not spending as much money as I could, I should get the internet so I can shop more".

The most common two reasons why the average person has an Internet connection at all are either for thier kids (kids will need to know about this internet stuff or be left behind in tomorrow's world), or to spend less money by being able to get all that free stuff that's all over the Internet.

Something I've touched on before as a very very common motivator online is what I called anticommerce.

People using the internet to avoid paying for stuff, or at the least, to pay as little as possible for that stuff. The vast majority of searches are not commercial. Even for some of what your clients think are their most important keywords, a lot of people using those keywords are not just looking for a shop. They have 'shops' offline. They want something they can only get online, be that free solutions to their problems, vastly discounted "internet prices", or just occassionally, products they've never seen in shops before. In about that order mostly.

That is basic marketing, of course ... knowing your market. Knowing who will buy and what and why before they do. The thing is, because of that mental ordering of things, an awful lot of people are likely to first discover your product/service while they are looking for a free solution. If your site is polite, impressive, and gives them a good experience, wishing them luck in finding what they seek, while pointing out (gently) why the paid option is better (be that service, support, range, or whatever) then they may come back to you when they give up looking for the freebie.

That will often be a significant proportion of all customers in that group. In many cases, the majority, while the internet is still relatively young.

Another segment of the online consumer-base are looking to buy something - eventually. But these people are more familiar with the internet and know how to make it work for them. They start off by identifying the full range of solutions and options open to them. They are in pure information gathering mode at this time. Its a scouting mission.

Once they've identified the options, they learn enough about the options to determine which ones can be ruled out as unsuited to their specific needs, and identify what seems to be the best option of solution type for them. So they move back ito scouting, but this time scouting that one area extensively. They find all the companies offering solutions of the type identified, and start to build up a list of specific products to consider.

They use online reviews, tales of other customers experiences, and possibly the pricing comparisons to finally decide which make and model they believe they want. Only now are they seriously thinking of a supplier, rather than of a solution type. They may well go to a price comparison site at this point to find the best deal they can on the specific make and model.

Did you notice what was most important to an SEO/SEM in there?

All the searching on major search engines happened in the early phases - the pure research phases. By the time they were holding their credit card, they were using another means to find the best price, such as a price comparison site.

The SEM uses this knowledge to change the way he markets to this small but growing portion of the market. He makes sure he provides material for those early 'scouting' type searches. He provides impressive information to make a good experience for the user. He builds a brand.

Because later, when that person is shopping for prices, if his site is any one of the options, he's got that sale on the trust he built, and the positive experiences given.

That is why it is all about giving an excellent, remarkable, memorable user-experience to every visitor.

#12 A.N.Onym


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 08:37 PM

I think we should include this thread in the SEO primer, at least, or may be make it a sticky, eventually.

Mind-blasting explanation, yet again, Ammon :lol: :applause:

#13 EGOL



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Posted 25 September 2007 - 09:06 PM

A while back google invented an algo that was based upon links. That algo ranked websites giving the best ranks to the site with the best links, all things being equal. Rankings in the SERPs thus became a battle of links. This diverted enormous human energy to link exchange, referral log spam, forum spam, comment spam, all in the quest of a link. Billions of dollars worth of time has been drilled into links instead of into content.

But, a new day has arrived.... Google is now starting to rank websites on the basis of how visitors behave on them and in my opinion gives that perhaps more weight than links. Isn't that the way it should be? Isn't that what will produce an enormous investment into the web and drive content quality through the roof - reward it.

I used to spend a lot of resources out trying to get links... then I realized... its not the links, its the engagement. I've now spend almost zero time going after links. Other activities have a higher yield.

There is why you build for the visitor.

Lots of people think that I am crazy when I say these things... :D That's OK.

#14 projectphp


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Posted 25 September 2007 - 09:24 PM

...and is precisely where your article on landing pages comes in Ammon.

Too often websites see users as an amorphous blob, who are all the same. This ends up, all too often, making websites adopt a "one size fits all" approach, that ends up suiting no one.

Providing unique, tailored and customised information to specific people, rather than to this all the same group we refer to as "users", a site can be made far more effective.

No one buys for just one reason, but there is always one reason that is most important. Price, quality, warranty, customer service, trust, safety, these are all issues that people find important. The more a site can focus on selling people on not what is most important to them as well as the "bonus" benefits, the better a site can be made.

Not to get on an Ammon bandwagon, but (a word that negates what went before it), I had what I am going to call an "Ammon moment" the other day, where real life matched exactly an excellent piece Ammon wrote many moons ago: The Real Meaning of Links (read it, it is very good).

In it, Ammon discusses how trying to sell to people you can't service well rather than serving them well, causes a business to lose long term. The assumption is far too often made that sales are "lost", but many times, we don't have them to start with. But serve the person, even if you don't directly benefit today, and they'll come back to you later, because you left them with a positive experience.

Right back to SEO, what is ultimately best for a business, in SEO, PPC or any other medium, is to create the best experience for end users, that will leave them feeling good about a business. If you focus on immediate revenue, at the exclusion of anything else, you really limit the number of people you can reach, and ultimately hurt, rather than help, a business.

#15 Thejspot


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Posted 26 September 2007 - 04:23 AM

Thank you all for your posts.

I'm taking this seriously and I had a few 'light bulb" moments while reading. Thanks again.

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