The SEO Story of Moby Dick and the Great White Whale
Today, I want to tell you a little story about SEO. I have been blogging for almost a year now and I also produce content for other sites and clients. Almost, every day I have to think about SEO and I have to take clients desires into consideration when constructing a keyword map. This brings us to the SEO story: I have found that there are two types of SEO clients. The first client is a Great White Whale hunter and the second is a fisherman.
Great White Whale Hunters
SEO can be looked at in two ways: Specific or Generic. These clients are Great White Whale hunters. They target generic terms like “China”, “HTC” or “Great Wall of China”. Why do they target these generic terms? These clients target them because of the high search volume. The term “China” is searched 1.22 million times a month, “HTC” – 2.74 million and “Great Wall of China” – 201,000 times. The idea behind generic SEO targeting is if the site ranks high then the traffic will follow. This technique works well if you can rank on the first page of a search engine but there are two major drawbacks. The first drawback is it is incredibly hard to rank first for a generic term. The second drawback is the traffic is also very generic.
If we look at a whale, we will see that most of the whale is rather useless. This is the same with generic traffic; it is rather useless at converting traffic into sales. A person that searches for “China” has no idea what they want, let alone, what they want to buy. We can see in the picture below that most of a whale ends up wasted (this is not entirely true, most of the whale was used when they were hunted, but to make my point about wasted traffic; we will say most of the whale is wasted).
In reality, most of the whale was used but it required a lot of extra work and new industries were created to handle the parts that were not easily used. The same thing is happening today, big data companies are being created to analyze the traffic that is not easily used (Sales are easily analyzed in this scenario). These clients want a lot of clicks but the problem is the Great White Whale hunters don’t know what to do with all the traffic and in the end it is hard fought (or bought) and mostly useless. Just like in the story of Moby Dick in the end it was all pointless and a lot of resources were wasted.
The SEO Fisherman is a different breed of client. These Fishermen want the most bang for their buck. The strategies they use are like bait. They use specific bait for specific fish. They will often use “Long-tail” SEO strategies to attract a very specific fish or very specific traffic. An example would be an airline that flies from NY to Beijing, instead of targeting the term “China”, they might target “How much are flights from NY to Beijing?” This long-tail term will be much easier to rank first for on a search engine because the term is very specific and there is less competition.
Also, the traffic is more valuable because they know exactly what the person is searching for and this searcher is much farther along in the purchasing decision than someone searching for “China”. Although, there is no search data on how many times this term is searched, it is still more valuable because the conversion rate should be higher. So, these fishermen are not looking for large amounts of traffic that requires hours of analyzing but instead they are fishing for lots of small fish that can easily be sold at market.
Although both strategies work, I often think some SEO clients are unclear about their goals and some also are unclear about the different methods that can be used to increase traffic and conversion rates. I think the best SEO strategies implement both specific and generic keywords into their SEO but for a blogger or a client with a tight budget, implementing a specific or long-tail strategy is most effective and yields the best results. The Point of the story is you don’t have to be a “Dick” to effective use SEO techniques and rank high on Google.