What new, online marketing tactic did you learn today?  It’s likely to be useful (generally speaking) but is it so for your brand right now or at all?  More importantly, are incipient SEO implementations fueled by interests in rankings or conversions?  In many cases, you need increased exposure to secure better conversions; but, are roads to better conversions paved by insights from SEOs or consumers (or is it both)?

I read a good post this morning by Michael King; Michael prompts online marketing practitioners to tweak initiatives, allowing for better consumer-to-brand engagement.  After all, SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization and not consumer-brand optimization, meaning technical aspects place a brand in a good position; but, when it comes to ‘ranking well’ with consumers, brands should defer to those with experience in that department, the consumers.

While SEO helps tremendously, it’s a good idea to know when to listen to search engine optimization sentiments and when to get information from consumers.  Mike’s post confronts readers with three questions each brand should ask itself before approaching SEO services:

What is the purpose of your site?
I think this is a great (and obvious) question.  A snarky exec may respond with, “To make money, Anthony.”  I understand; but really, what is the purpose?  Is the site the ‘business’ itself (ecomm)?  Is the site’s purpose to educate (a business consultant’s way to give consumers a ‘sample’)?  To lead more people to a brick-and-mortar store (think lawyers, dentists, doctors)?  To get people to buy an ebook?

An SEO can’t answer that question for you; it’s an in-house question.  However, depending on user engagement, consumers can answer such a question.  What is your brand’s current state?  What are the brand’s long and short-term goals?  An initial purpose may change but ensure it is identified before doing any implementation and marketing.

What are you trying to get users to do after they arrive?
Online marketing suggestions and tactics are often delivered in ‘catchall’ fashions but the reality of business is that each one is incredibly unique.  Depending on a brand’s business model and present goals, there are a number of ways to answer the question.  Are your consumers engaging in brand-desired behavior? While search engine specialists (due to the amount of experience and ability) may ‘see’ patterns in marketing and provide suggestions, they may not offer the best solutions regarding how to modify customer behavior.  A good population to question, however, is your consumer population.  Consider ‘inquiring’ about behavior related to bounce rates, low conversions, how they engage the site, etc.  Your website is a means to an end.  Improve the means by asking customers through a survey.

Who is Your Target Audience?
Do you have a well-defined target market?  The snarky exec from the first question may quip, “Those holding green dollars, Anthony.”  Again, I understand; but, defining and targeting a market would seem to presage marketing.  For instance, an online marketer may sing the praises of Facebook, yet after doing some research, you may find high percentages of your consumers are not using the platform.  The DoubleClick Ad Planner by Google is a useful tool for scoping a site’s user demographics.  Leveraged tools of online marketing should be contingent on a brand’s target market.

Are search engine optimization specialists obsolete?  No, but SEOs and good rankings are just one piece of the puzzle; ensure your brand is also listening to its consumers, allowing good rankings to materialize into good conversions.