Answer. Okay, this is a very insightful observation. A couple things. First and foremost, a really important part of search engine optimization is the selection of keywords. So, for example, progressive.com has optimized on the more transactional keywords, such as motorcycle insurance quote. On the other hand, 21st.com has optimized on the more educational keywords, and as you indicate if you Google “what are car insurance deductibles,” then they rank at the top.
Now, here’s the problem. I am very skeptical that many people don’t understand what a deductible is (!), first of all, and even if they do that search they are very early in the sales funnel, so you’re really trying to persuade people who are not close to a purchase decision. (Fish where the fish are, and fish where the fish are BITING). In addition, it’s not a complete either/or decision. I am sure if progressive.com tried, they could actually crush 21st.com on both the educational queries and the transactional queries. So, the art of search engine optimization seems to imply that progressive.com has made what in my opinion is the better choice, the transactional keywords, and 21st.com has made a choice that, in my opinion, is pretty stupid.
Data Stores Queries and SEO
Now, let’s just talk for a second about data storage. Again, you have to see this difference between the transactional keywords and the educational keywords. It’s not that one is absolutely valuable and the other is worthless, it’s about strategy. So, ask yourself and your marketing team, would you rather be at the top for a transactional search, when a person is building their short list of possible vendors? Or when they’re just “learning” what “Data storage” is? For example, best data storage companies? Or data storage companies for cyber security, or some type of heavily transactional search? Or, there are educational searches, such as what it data storage?, or what is cyber security?. All of these are valuable, but again you have the seesaw between transactions and educational searches.
If forced to choose: I WANT THE TRANSACTIONAL KEYWORDS because I WANT TO MAKE MONEY not EDUCATE people!
Now, at a beginner level, and the course I teach at Stanford is very much at the beginner level, I want people to see the difference between a transactional search and an educational search quer. Most people mistakenly optimize on educational searches, which they don’t win at and even if they do win, do not perform a lot of value. So for beginners I wanted to see that the money is in the transactions!
However at a more advanced level, a skilled practitioner of search engine optimization can essentially have his cake and eat it too. Progressive.com could easily optimize on both the transactional searches and the educational searches and probably win. As for your company, in its architecture, you might build out some optimization on transactional searches, and then using your blog, work on so-called thought leadership, which is really to get in front of customers for educational searches. It’s not either or, it’s both and, with the transactional queries being far more valuable (in general) than the educational queries.
Got a question? Click this link to email Jason or call 888-993-1122. Dr. Jason McDonald is founder and Senior SEO / Social Media Director of the JM Internet Group. He teaches the SEO training classes for the group, and therefore provides most of the SEO tips for this blog. His goal with this blog is to provide an easy 'one-stop shop' for the busy marketer looking for tips, tricks, and secrets on how to get to the top of Google and Bing for free using proven SEO tactics. When not dreaming up SEO tips, Dr. McDonald lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two dogs, a cat, four iguanas and twelve children (just kidding). Really you read down to the bio on this guy? Enjoy the blog.
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