Know your keywords but don’t focus on them

by Jim May 28, 2019

I’ve been getting praise and publishing space thanks to my election prediction, but all I was doing was reading the data. We’re off to Retail Global tomorrow where my workshop will be covering essential retailer’s tips such as speed to purchase, cognitive load, and the new way of thinking about SEO. Also, as mobile rapidly evolves, why you shouldn’t be focused on rankings and backlinks.

What I learned

  • I’m no Nostradamus; I just read data
  • Why Google is a populist engine
  • The essentials of the retailer’s workshop
  • Don’t worry about your keyword rankings!
  • Why mobile is changing the landscape


Hey, welcome back Rankers. Off to the Gold Coast tomorrow, Retail Global. Big week. Got the workshop on Wednesday. Looking forward to meeting a lot of great people there. It’s already choccas, I think. I don’t think there’s any spots left. You can try. They can usually squeeze a chair in. But we’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re going to be talking about some of the things I’m going to touch on this morning, but I just wanted to revisit your keywords in last week’s federal election of Australia and some of the reports I’m reading now.

Keyword premonitions

My early prediction of the election got picked up by major newspapers. Well, newspapers, a major publisher, who also happens to publish newspapers. It got published in Australian Daily. I’ve seen other reports coming out since, and people are trying to make sense of this and everything else. One of the things that I was looking at when we get to keywords, and I’m going to be talking about some of this on Wednesday, is that we had this death tax and this inheritance tax. Apparently there’s no such thing, I don’t know. Once again, I wasn’t following the election, just the data. I was trying to work out why did it spike on the 19th of April?

What I found out was that on the 19th of April, there was a spike in inheritance tax searches on the same day that the ALP or the Australian Labour Party actually was complaining to Facebook about these particular posts. Now, I’m not sure if it’s chicken or egg, but that’s a big spike, in relative terms, not to have any media behind it. What I’m saying here is I think that first spike in awareness of these taxes was because of the complaints made to Facebook that were then made public.

Now, I get a lot of people wanting to talk about their keywords and everything else, but you can see here, we’ve got two tax related keywords here, and they’re very, very different. As I’ve explained before, Google is essentially a populist engine. You’ll hear some people call it an answer engine. I call it a populist engine because it looks for the thing that most people want to find, or it tries to guess the thing that you’re trying to find based on what everybody else is trying to find. Okay? That’s why the rankings, say, at the top of Google, are certainly very different to those at the top of DuckDuckGo.

A simple example of this, you can go into Google Trends like I’ve done this morning and just type in the word “shave”. Have a look at the related queries to the word shave, and then go and see who’s number one in Google, and then go and see who’s number one in DuckDuckGo, and tell me which one of those results do you think is more accurate for someone who just wants to search for the word shave. You’ll see what I mean. Anyway, no time to do that this morning. A few of the things we’re going to be touching on, it gets down to this in the workshop, is we’re going to be looking at speed to purchase, because this is a retailers’ workshop. Retail Global, who knew? Speed to purchase.

We’re going to be talking about why you shouldn’t be making a customer think, and this applies to lead-gen and all those sorts of things. But as far as SEO goes, we’re going to be talking about why you shouldn’t be thinking about your backlinks. I know this is an odd theory and we haven’t done backlinks for 10 years, but geez, I still see a lot of people chasing backlinks. Anyway, I don’t know why you’d do that. Then, of course, we’re going to be talking about why you shouldn’t be worried about your keyword ranking. Now, that might seem totally counterintuitive to everything you know about SEO, but the fact of the matter is, and this happened over the weekend again, we’re seeing Google test this all the time, is the new ad products.

Mobile competition

The new Google Ad products are almost indistinguishable from the organic results. Right? Think of Google as just any other platform. Hey, think of it as a TV station. If you get some editorial from Google because you do something really cool, or maybe you’ll go to the top of the rankings because you’re popular. Right? Otherwise, maybe you’d better buy their ad space, or just be really, really strong in your own brand over time and make Google chase you. Stop worrying about Google and trying to get to number one organically, because you’re not going to get all the traffic that you used to get. You’re not going to get all the traffic that you used to get 10 years, five years, or even two years ago from being number one in Google.

The reason for that is quite simple. It’s the growth of mobile. With the growth of mobile, what we’ve seen is a lot of that real estate is just being taken, that screen real estate being taken up by a combination of paid, places, knowledge graphs, featured answers, whatever you want to call it. That organic number one position on mobile, certainly, is nowhere near as valuable as it once was. The way to approach SEO for us is basically it’s all about the user, SEO, as I’ve said for years and years and years. Right? You can break what we do for SEO up into a whole other bunch of areas, like you think of speed, well, that’s kind of technical. It’s kind of user focused, it’s kind of conversion related.

All of these things you can put labels on it and say, “That’s an SEO task.” However, it’s a task to make your business work better, and this is looking after the user. So, with SEO, what you need to be doing is all the things that we’ve said in the past, all the technical stuff, which we’re going over this week just briefly, a bit of a refresher, and you’ve got to do the technical SEO stuff. But don’t worry or get hung up about, “Geez, I’m not number one,” because there might be 1,000 phrases that you’ll rank in number three for. You know? You’re going to start to get these long-tail searches rather than chasing one phrase that gets you the number one spot on mobile that no one sees. Right?

So, if you’re doing SEO, if you’re still doing SEO, the way that we would approach it is this. Think of the user. What is the user trying to find? Give the user that as quickly as you possibly can, and then also start asking yourself what makes you think you should be ranked in Google? How do you solve the user’s problems? All right? But this week, Retail Global, it’s all about talking about those sorts of things and showing you how to grow your revenue. So, if you are coming to Retail Global, come and see our stand. We’re only looking for about four clients this year. We don’t have a lot of space for new business, but we do have some, and we’re just looking for the right ones we want to work with, so if that’s you, love to see you there. Thanks very much. Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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