When we talk about using SEO to grow a business it is usually with traffic and conversions in mind. Organic search optimisation brings new visitors to your website who might buy your product or service.
It can also do so much more for your business.
As digital marketers we have access to a lot of data. SEO in particular involves extensive research into markets, audiences and competitors. That data is valuable far beyond the quest for high search rankings.
The intelligence gathered through the SEO process is a goldmine of opportunity. If you aren’t using your SEO data to inform your wider business strategy then you are missing out.
SEO can provide a wealth of data that can be used to help shape your product line.
New product and service ideas
Keyword research can reveal your audience’s appetite for products or services you don’t offer.
For instance, an SEO working for a pet food store might conduct a search for “cat food bowls” in an effort to enhance their category pages for these items. This would reveal a “People Also Asked” box with “are tilted cat bowls better?”.
If this is a product the store is not already stocking it can be an indicator that their target audience is interested in it.
Similarly, services like “Answer the Public” would reveal many popular related searches such as “cat food bowls for fast eaters”, “cat food bowls to keep ants out”. This research can be used at a more strategic business level to identify new product lines.
Product and service enhancements
In a similar way that keyword research can reveal whole new product lines to consider, it can also highlight additional services or product enhancements.
Keyword research around you services or products might reveal searches for “next day delivery” or “on finance”. These could highlight the qualifications searches are using when they are lower down the marketing funnel. They looking for something that more exactly meets their needs. This might not be an add-on or service that you offer already but would be able to.
If the search volume is high enough it could warrant further investigation into this potential business opportunity.
There is a lot that goes into effective naming of businesses and products.
Does it encapsulate the brand? Does it resonate with the target audience? Is it easily remembered?
Oftentimes there are other critical factors that are overlooked. You don’t want to find yourself at a disadvantage in your marketing efforts from day 1 because you are going to find it hard to rank for your own brand term in the SERPs.
For instance, a contact of mine recently launched a new business naming it the same as a new product being imminently released by a huge multinational brand. A quick search of the name brought back hundreds of press releases about the corporation’s new product. None of it mentioned my contact’s new company.
Similarly, if your chosen brand or product name is a word or phrase you might be competing against informational sites like Wikipedia for the term. Want to try going up against Wikipedia when you’re just launching?
SEOs will always look at the competition for a phrase before trying to rank for it. If you have a name in mind it is worth considering who else shares it or ranks for it. A quick search of the term will help you to spot if it is already in use. It will be harder to outrank an already established brand that shares your brand term.
The sort of investigations SEOs will regularly do as part of their work will be hugely beneficial for such an important business decision.
Discovering new markets
Understanding when is the time to expand the business into new territories or markets can be tough. Moving from a local to national business or even moving to other countries can be daunting.
How do you get an idea of whether there is appetite for your product or service outside of your established market? SEOs can help here too.
SEOs will be heads-deep into web analytics tools like Google Analytics trying to understand visitor behaviour. Through that they will have a keen sense of where in the world you visitors are based.
Oftentimes delving into Google Analytics can reveal that there is a high proportion of traffic coming from areas outside of your target locations.
Analysing this traffic further will help to determine how they are coming to discover your site. Traffic from organic sources would suggest a user has selected your site from the SERPs and therefore is interested in the content your site offers.
Analysing this traffic from outside your target market can help you to determine if there is an interest in your brand or its offering. Does this traffic visit your core product pages? Are there returning visitors from these locations?
Google Search Console
Once you have identified that there are engaged visitors coming to your site from countries outside of your target regions you can turn to Google Search Console. Using the “Performance” report and narrowing down your data by “Country” will help you to identify what visitors from these countries are searching for.
If you are ranking well enough to gain traffic for your core product or service terms from this country you know that traffic is engaged on your site it would be worth exploring further. Barriers to entry for that market might be low. You might simply need to allow international visitors to have products delivered to them. Perhaps a virtual office address in their country would be reassurance enough that your company caters to their market.
A crucial bit of intel that SEO can provide is insight into market volatility before it hits your bottom line. There might be early warnings of new competitors entering the market, or existing ones encroaching on more of your business.
Good SEO strategies rely on understanding the competition in the SERPs. Regular analysis of competitors’ search visibility will identify major changes in their keyword targeting. A drop in their visibility for the terms you are tracking your own site against could indicate that they are moving out of your market. It could also mean they are winding down operations and spending less on marketing. This could alert you to significant changes with your competition long before their press releases come out.
SEOs focus on growing your website’s visibility and generating more conversions, whatever form they might take. However, this is not all they can do. An SEO’s skill-set and data at hand means they are well positioned to bring insight that could greatly benefit your business.
We should do more to empower SEOs to feed into business decision making processes to ensure their intel is not being overlooked. The opportunities they can identify shouldn’t be ignored.