Cheap SEO and pushy sales people have a lot in common!
If you and I were to come up, separately, with a list of the most annoying traits of salespeople, I’d be pretty confident betting that we’d both come up with pretty similar answers.
The generalisation of poor retail workers can, unfortunately, ring quite true. These bad actions can irritate, frustrate and anger customers.
So what does this have to do with SEO? Today, we are likening all these actions to those of bad SEO on your website.
How? Well, when you talk too much about yourself, ignore your customers’ needs, and neglect the purchase cycle, you’re turning customers off – regardless if they’re in-store or on your website.
1. All I do is sell sell sell:
(Sung to the tune of All I Do Is Win; thanks DJ Khaled.)
What happens in-store?
I bet 99.9% of you have entered a store where the shop assistant didn’t even greet you, and instead of asking you anything about your needs (you know, why YOU’RE here today, what specific NEED are you trying to satisfy, what PROBLEM are you trying to solve, etc.) he or she starts shoving products in your face:
“You absolutely need this outdoor hose!”
…But I live in an apartment with no backyard.
“You absolutely need this desk chair!”
…Oh, actually, I'm here just to look at stationery.
“You absolutely need this baby carrier!”
…I don't have a baby. But I have a dog! Does that count?
You see, bad SEO does not take into account a user's needs.
That's what bad sales assistants do, too. They force products on you, tell you how good their store is, and don’t let you get a word in edgeways.
They're lurking outside your fitting room door, waiting for that split second of opportunity where they throw six new items at you and tell you how this will flatter your figure, while that will make your eyes pop.
Enough! I'm just here to buy some pyjamas!
Bad SEO: I’M calling all the shots
Bad SEO techniques that are likened to a store pushing products in your face (without considering your needs) include keyword stuffing and doorway pages.
Here’s an example of a piece of content that has been stuffed with keywords:
“For accommodation in Melbourne, choose our Melbourne CBD hotel. We offer rooms in Melbourne for an affordable price. For more information contact our Melbourne accommodation centre”.
So… are you in Melbourne?
It’s pretty obvious when a company is stuffing keywords in their content. And if you can spot it, you can bet Google can, too.
Doorway pages are annoying little tricks that attract a visitor but then direct them to an irrelevant or low-quality page.
A doorway page is optimised for a particular phrase (that someone is genuinely searching for – this is your cue to HELP!) but then leads users astray and forces another (possibly irrelevant) product onto them.
Bad SEO: focusing too hard on the purchase stage of the buying cycle
There are typically five stages of the purchase cycle. Any visitor who lands on your website could be in the midst of any of those stages. You know how many stages are actually facilitated by the purchase? Just one!
Say you’ve got 100 people in-store or browsing your e-commerce store right now. Let’s presume these visitors are evenly spread throughout each stage of the purchase cycle.
That means, at this very moment, 20 people each are:
- Viewing your products for the first time ever
- Conducting product research (like price, features, materials, etc.)
- Comparing your products to those of other brands
- Ready to purchase or in the process of purchasing
- Existing customers looking to return or exchange an item
That means you could be shoving products to up to 80% of your visitors who don’t even have a need to buy right now.
Excuse me while I run, screaming from your store.
2. Am I invisible?
What happens in-store?
You know that awkward moment when two salespeople are so engrossed in their own conversation that they don’t even notice you enter their store, let alone the other moments you’re struggling with piles of clothes, a full trolley, an item on a high shelf, or a puzzled look on your face?
Bad SEO: It’s all about me
That’s what it’s like going to a website of a company that only talks about itself.
Of course, there should be a dedicated segment of your website that tells your story, including your mission, your history, testimonials, and previous experience: these are all social proof and show that you’re talented, experienced, and capable.
But the question on visitors’ lips is not what can you do, but what can you do… for ME?
OK, it’s good that you won that award three years running. In fact, it’s great – it assures me that I’m considering a skilled company!
But enough about you. I want you to tell me how your product or service can be of use to my family, my business, my life, or me.
Bad SEO: When technology overshadows functionality and information
So you have a super slick site that uses advanced development techniques. Cool!
But uh… what do you actually do? How do I see a list of your products? What’s your address?
Great, now I feel non-existent.
3. Can you just make the purchase already?
What happens in-store?
A good sales assistant is going to stick with you throughout the complete sales process.
They won’t push you into products you don’t actually need; instead, they offer practical feedback and honest advice.
They’re with you beyond the credit card transaction by:
- Inviting you to join their loyalty club
- Telling you about an upcoming event
- Giving you the opportunity to provide feedback
- Giving you detailed instructions on how to use an item
- Provide you with an outlet for ongoing support
They keep in touch via email newsletters and reward you with discount codes and specials. They want to reward the loyalty of their customers.
Depending on your business, you could and should be retaining customers for years, or even decades!
On the other side of the fence there are those salespeople so eager to get their hands on your cash that they’ll push you through the sales process, leaving you feeling uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and turned off.
They neglect the long-term relationship a customer can have with a store, brand, label, product, or service.
Short-term support doesn’t excel half as well as long-term support focused on retaining happy customers.
These sales assistants see a customer merely as a bu$ine$$ opportunity.
Bad SEO: you’re looking for a quick fix
The same goes for SEO.
Low quality SEO companies will initially conduct keyword research and fill your site with all the keywords you need to be found. No doubt they’ll throw in a couple of black hat techniques, too.
But that’s where it stops.
They’ll wash their hands clean of you and let you deal with the black-hat repercussions from Google when you get caught (and you will get caught). They’ll simply leave you in the lurch.
It’s about creating a sustainable online business, rather than quickly shooting to the top of Google only to falter soon after.
Trends come and go; search algorithms are always changing; and businesses are constantly transforming, evolving, growing, and adjusting. Long-term is where you will see SEO’s true value.
Reality check: you’re not the only one doing SEO. So how are you going to stay ahead of your competition if you’re chasing a quick-fire SEO solution?
4. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
What happens in-store?
Those pesky salespeople don’t.
In fact, they should list telling white lies and exaggerating on their résumés under ‘Skills’.
They’ll sell you add-ons you don’t actually need. They’ll try to upsell at every chance. They’ll embellish the truth.
And once again, they fail to listen to what you’re saying.
Quality SEO is part of a transparent digital strategy
SEO is one part of your entire digital strategy that confidently showcases your brand and its products.
Everything you say online, whether it’s on your website or through your social media platforms, should be:
That’s what customers want to hear. If you want to brag about your product, you better be able to back up those words!
Cheap SEO is pushy, sloppy, and careless
Comparing poor SEO practices to poor sales reps and customer service techniques helps illustrate that the most important thing we as businesses selling products or services is to listen to our customers.
We can promote a product as much as we want, but if we are not answering customers’ questions or telling prospects how we can help them, they will struggle to find a reason to give us their business.
Above all, we must achieve all this in the most honest and unpretentious way possible. That’s what makes a good salesperson, and that’s what makes a quality long-term SEO strategy.