How to Use SEO to Attract and Retain Customers

What does it take to rank in Google now? And how should SEO fit into your plans of attraction, retention and conversion?

In this episode Chris and Tony reveal:

  • How social and SEO go together, and how listening will help your SEO
  • What SEO means to your overall content strategy
  • Why getting rankings means making real friends
  • Why traffic is just the beginning of your digital business strategy

How to Use SEO to Attract and Retain Customers

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Tony Clark: This is The Mainframe.

Welcome back, everybody, to our ARC Reactor series. This is the second part. We’re going to be focusing again on attraction. Just as a quick recap, our ARC Reactor strategy is attraction, retention, conversion, and the reactor part is the automation. We’re going to be covering different parts of this attraction, retention, and conversion strategy, how to automate it, and how to use it in your overall online digital marketing and digital commerce strategy. How are you doing, Chris?

Chris Garrett: I’m doing great. I’m actually on vacation right now, so I’m feeling good. We’re in Seattle.

Tony Clark: Nice, yes. This is the road show version for you.

Chris Garrett: Exactly. I do apologize for my microphone. Doesn’t sound as good as it does at my home studio.

Tony Clark: It wouldn’t be an episode if you didn’t apologize for something. The audience comes to expect you to apologize for something, so that’s great.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. I’m simultaneously British and Canadian. It’s a genetic mix of apology.

Tony Clark: I get it. I’m sure you’re sorry for that.

Chris Garrett: I do apologize. I’m sorry.

Tony Clark: This part, we’re going to be talking about the attraction using organic SEO. Last week, we talked about using social. This week, we’re talking about those things that you usually think about with attraction — traffic and that sort of thing, right?

How Social and SEO Go Together, and How Listening Will Help Your SEO

Chris Garrett: Yeah. It’s a weird way to go about it, that we talked about social before SEO, but using our approach, you do a lot of listening in your SEO using social. Traditionally, people would start their SEO process with keyword research. Then they would create some pages around those keywords and do the optimization from there. We have found lately that it’s far better to go listen to your audience and go listen to the marketplace in social. Find out what the challenges and the goals and their pain points are, and put that into your SEO.

It’s partly because Google’s got a lot better at working out what you mean with your words. You used to be able to say, “Okay, I’m going to write an article about mechanical diggers.” I would have to say, “Mechanical digger Cat.” Google wouldn’t really know the difference between the Cat brand the cat feline, but now it’s got a lot smarter. It knows from context what you’re talking about. There still is an element of keyword research, but getting into the head of your audience, we found as being a lot more powerful, especially using the content marketing approach.

Tony Clark: Yeah. This is really helpful for people who develop an overall engagement and attraction strategy dealing with their audience versus somebody who’s just trying to generate traffic. Using social as that first step and then really using these types of content strategies for the attraction really helps the overall. It takes everything step by step though the process.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. When we talked last week about social listening and social traffic and social engagement, we did put an emphasis on networking. That’s another key point. We said that Tony really uses social as a way of connecting with people. Connecting with people, not necessarily about your primary topic, so you’re connecting on a human level. That plays a big part in the SEO. We’re going to go into how that fits in.

Coming to the SEO point, knowing a fair bit about your audience, having created some connections, and having some relationships set up. It’s not just purely about traffic, but all of that is foundational for generating traffic and attracting the right people at the right time.

What SEO Means to Your Overall Content Strategy

Tony Clark: Exactly. It’s all about the landing. One of the things I like to use as an analogy is, if somebody is a human cannonball and they spend all their time focusing on launching out of the cannon, not focusing on what’s going to happen after they get out and where they land, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. A lot of times people’s SEO strategy, that’s what they’re focused on. They’re focused all on generating the traffic and getting thrust from the cannon versus what’s going to happen when the person actually lands on the other side.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. Big splat probably.

Tony Clark: Yes. We’re going to talk about what you use for that. It’s focusing on your end and how to utilize that to not only attract, but what happens when they get there? Because attraction’s one thing, and we’re going to talk more about retention later on, but good SEO is about attraction and retention both, right?

Chris Garrett: Yeah. You’ll find that many who were traditional SEOs have had to turn into this new hybrid of specialists. All the technical stuff has been downplayed in favor of the more attraction and content-based things that we talk about all the time. You’ll find that SEO people are doing more user experience. They’re doing more landing page optimization. They’re doing more content creation. Whereas before, they could just be pure technical SEOs, they have to be a bit more of a Jack of all trades.

The whole field has developed along with Google, and to a lesser extent Bing. As it got more sophisticated, it became almost less technical and more strategic. If you are thinking that it’s all about stuffing keywords into your meta tags, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Tony Clark: Yeah. It’s like the search world, not just SEO, but Google and other parts of the search industry have realized that people are searching for things because they need content. I know that seems funny. It’s almost like this realization of good content written for people will also help you in your attraction and traffic if it’s done right.

Being able to focus on that content makes your overall strategy for your whole digital strategy way better than if you were just focusing on everything as an independent, “This is for traffic. This is for retention. This is to convert.” It’s more of a hybrid in this sort of holistic approach.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. That’s the first big point we need to get across. Develop your content for human beings, for the people that you’re trying to serve. Don’t write for robots. Write for the people that you’ve identified through your social listening and your research. Then do some optimization to make a good fit for the search engines, but don’t twist it to serve the search engines. You’re serving people. It’s people that are going to click in your search results. It’s people who are going to link to you and share your stuff, not Google. Google is going to deliver you to them.

Tony Clark: The more you optimize your content for people, you’re also optimizing the content for search — if it’s done correctly. It’s all about just focusing on good, solid content. I mean we’ve been saying that for years and years and years. That’s been our main strategy for everything we’ve done. We’ve been preaching that for so long, but a lot of people are starting to realize the value in that. You don’t have to have the segmented strategy. By focusing on good content and focusing on the target that you’re trying to attract, that’s going to happen organically if you have good, solid content.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. Google’s actually, their mission is to deliver the best results. If you are the best result, then you’re working with their algorithms instead of trying to battle them and try and trick them. Just do what it takes to serve that audience. Be the best answer the question somebody put in, and Google will look favorably on you.

Tony Clark: Also, by doing that, you’re not at the mercy of Google. Because a lot of people have based their strategy on target traffic and utilizing tricks to get more focus on Google. As soon as Google has penalized them or you’ve taken Google out of the equation, their entire business model is falling apart. So by focusing on this strategy, you don’t have to worry about Google. It’s not as important. You’re just providing the good, solid content. Then the traffic naturally comes.

Chris Garrett: Exactly. Let’s dive into the three steps to attract and retain with SEO.

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Tony Clark: It’s similar to what you would use for retention and conversion as well. It’s good, solid headlines, the meat of the content, and making sure the content matches the audience you’re attracting. We’ll talk about ads in the next episode. But no matter what you’re doing, even your organic search, you want the page to match that traffic that you’re generating. That helps with stickiness and retention.

It’s also about the content and good, solid descriptions about what that content is on the page. Think of SEO as not just from Google. It’s from Google to the page. Once they’re on the page, they immediately know, “Yes, this is what I’m looking for,” and then can dive in farther.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. We always talk about having your prospects be able to follow the scent that they’re on the right track, and there are sign posts along the way. If you start talking about things in a different way, then there’s a disconnect. You need to use the same words and phrases, even the same on-page design if you can, so that people know they’re in the right place. When that applies to Google, Google is sending you people who have been looking for a certain thing, so you have to talk about the thing that they were looking for. That’s where the keywords come back into play.

They have put a phrase into Google as a question or something that they’re looking for, and you have to say that you have the answer. The more you match what they’re looking for, the more appropriate and relevant your result is going to be and the more chance Google is going to serve it up.

Why Getting Rankings Means Making Real Friends

Chris Garrett: Now, the on-page stuff is a tweak. That’s the first think you need to do, the content and the optimization. The next thing you need to do is get votes for that content. You need people to say, “Yes, this is a good, solid article, and more people should know about it.” That’s where links come in.

There’s three aspects to links. The first is, how many of them are pointing at your content, pointing at your pages? It’s not necessarily just at your site. It’s at specific pages. The second is the quality of those because higher authority pages and sites infer more authority on you. That last thing is the text. Instead of, “Click here,” what does their link say? It’s a tricky and difficult thing, right, Tony?

Tony Clark: It is. You see all kinds of scams out there of people trying to get you to buy links and, “We’ll link to you here.” The problem with that is you’re hitting all those elements that Chris brought up. Again, this goes back to good, solid, quality content. Think about how this works in the real world. If somebody has a good business and it’s a small town, the recommendation is you should go to this shoe repair shop because they’ve been around forever. They know what they’re doing. You go there. You get your shoes repaired.

“Hey, it’s great. They did exactly what they said. They were great. They were friendly. I loved them.” So, word of mouth, you start talking to people. If there’s a shop in town, especially if you’re a small town, and they are terrible service, they’re scamming, or they don’t do the job that they say they’re going to do, that’s going to get around as well. It goes back to this idea of good, solid content delivering what it says it’s going to deliver will generate links not only from social, but from other people in your field or people looking for information about that. It is helpful to somebody else to provide more context for their content to another authority, and that would be you if you have a good, solid content strategy.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. You’ll see the theme that keeps coming up is reputation and protecting your reputation and putting forward reasons to have a good reputation. In terms of your content quality, if you keep churning out poor quality, thin content, you’re not going to get the results you want, and you’re going to get a poor reputation. If you have a reputation for really good, deep, useful, valuable content, then not only is Google going to look favorably on you because human beings look favorably, but you’re going to attract the links. You’re going to attract quality links.

The key part is to not, again, as Tony said, don’t use the tricks. If you can press a button and get a link, that’s probably a bad link for you. You absolutely don’t want to be associated with bad neighborhoods — tricks, scams, link-sharing schemes, link-sharing clubs and networks. Stay well away from all of that. You need to get links because you’ve got good, solid content that people know about.

It comes back to your social media. Being able to use that as a distribution platform. It’s guest posting. Guest posting on authority sites, being referenced and cited in other people’s articles. That comes back to the networking. You can also do things like Chiropractic. He spoke at one of our live events, and he photographs sporting events. I think they were cycling races, right, Tony?

Tony Clark: He does marathons and bike races and a lot of different things. He’s an amazing photographer, so people love having their picture taken by him.

Chris Garrett: He allows people to use the photograph as long as they give him a link. That’s a really smart, quality, value-based way of getting lots of quality links. They’re on-topic because they’re about these races. In fact, they might be the person referenced in the photograph. People love the photographs. They’re happy to give him a link. Obviously, when they link back to him, people can get the rest of the photographs as well, so it’s a service to the visitors. That’s the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that gets good, quality links and lots of them.

Tony Clark: It allows you to be more part of the team that’s going to move forward. You think about quick results — trying to get a quick result or a quick hit through a link is like being a red shirt on the old Star Trek show. Sure, you get to go down with the away team, but you’re probably going to end up dead. Kirk, with his authority and everything that he’s done, he’s not going to end up dead. He’s going to be through the whole show.

If you’re trying to do a quick hit, you’re a red shirt. You may get the excitement of being on the away team, but you are going to be killed and may not be coming back. That’s a good way to think about it. You want to build authority. You want to have Kirk- or Spock-level authority. You don’t want to be a red shirt.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. The only guy with a red shirt anybody remembers is Scotty. Keep that in mind.

Tony Clark: Yeah, exactly, and he stayed in engineering most of the time, where he was safe.

Why Traffic Is Just the Beginning of Your Digital Business Strategy

Chris Garrett: Where it was safe and warm. The last piece of the puzzle is, you’ve got some attention and you’ve got some reputation building up, but still, that’s not going to necessarily build your business. We did talk about attraction and retention. The place the retention really begins is getting them from the page into your funnel. That’s where a lot of people fall down. That’s why a lot of SEOs are now having to look at user experience and landing page optimization, conversion rate optimization. The first thing you need to do is, if you’re getting links through guest posting, don’t just link to your home page.

What I would do is, I have an example where I wrote on Social Media Examiner, and I said, “Here’s 10 headline ideas. If you want the rest of the 100,” and whatever I had, “click through to here.” I sent them to the landing page for my 102 headline ebook. It was relevant. It was that scent we were talking about earlier. You’re helping people along the mission that they have, right? They were looking to develop better content. They saw that there was these headline formulas and that they could get some more, and they clicked through.

Get them onto your site in a way that’s relevant to their click, first of all. If somebody’s linking to you, you can’t always dictate that, but as I said before, if people link to your content instead of your homepage, that works better for your funnel. The second part of that is, once they’re on the site, we’re starting to talk about things like bounce rate. Tony, what happens when somebody clicks through to your site and they don’t like what they see?

Tony Clark: They leave. You’re going to notice a thread through this entire attraction, retention, and conversion series that there is a touch of each of these things on everything you do. It’s got to be holistic. That’s what we’re talking about here. You may have a great attraction strategy, but once they get to the page, if it does not deliver what they’re looking for, they bounce, just like Chris said.

Chris Garrett: And Google spots that. Google can see, “Hey, I keep sending people to this number one Google result, and they keep coming straight back. There’s a problem there.” All the tricks in the world, if you disappoint people, if it’s a bait-and-switch, if you promise something and you don’t deliver, they’re going to go away. You want people to go deeper into your site instead of bouncing off like a ricochet. It’s like that human cannonball. If he slaps into the side of a wall, into the tallest building in the area, yeah, the audience is going to get a one-time laugh, but it’s not great for his career.

Tony Clark: Exactly. We’ll go into more detail on that when we get more into the retention. One of the things you’ll realize is that each part of this helps the part after it and backwards. The idea is, by having this hybrid, holistic approach, you bring in good, quality traffic, and then you’re delivering content that caters to that traffic. That’s the whole point of attraction. It’s not attraction and then leaving immediately. It’s attraction and having them stick.

Chris Garrett: Exactly. You have to get out of the idea that you can just turn one dial. Everything has to be tuned together. That’s why we’re doing this entire series. Tony, let’s bring it home. What is the three things that people have to keep in mind with this?

Key Takeaways

Tony Clark: The main thing to focus on are the three parts of attracting with traffic. That’s on-page optimization. Make sure that the page and the content that you’re putting together matches what type of traffic you’re trying to attract, but also it has good, solid content. So when they get there, they stick. You need links. You need links from good, quality sources that point to good, quality content. That allows you to build the authority for that page and continue to drive traffic to it. Then, third, you need to use that content, that page that they land on to get them in the funnel, to drive them deeper. The whole point of attraction is to get them to stick, not to get them to get there and bounce.

Chris Garrett: We’ll go further into attraction and retention and conversion in this series. Check out the next episode, and please do leave a review on iTunes.