Turning SEO on Its Head – Questioning the Dogma





Blog Date

June 6, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Turning SEO on Its Head – Questioning the Dogma

The Day My Site Disappeared

I’m on a bus in London, casually scrolling through my phone, when suddenly – poof! My website is gone. Just like that, vanished into thin air. My heart starts racing as I frantically refresh the page, but nada, nothing. It’s as if my entire online presence has been wiped out.

“This can’t be happening,” I think to myself, panic setting in. I’m an SEO manager for a leading agency in Manchester, for crying out loud. How could my own website have disappeared like that? As I sit there, mind racing, I realize this is the wake-up call I’ve needed. It’s time to question the conventional wisdom of SEO.

Rethinking the Client Avatar

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Client avatars are the bread and butter of modern marketing. How dare you suggest we rethink them?” But hear me out. Over the years, I’ve seen firsthand how this once-useful tool has become a crutch, leading us down a path of narrow-minded thinking and potential customer alienation.

Let’s rewind for a moment. The idea behind client avatars is sound – create a detailed profile of your ideal customer to help guide your marketing efforts. But as Jessie Lewis points out, the devil is in the details. When we start filling in arbitrary facts about our imaginary customer, we can end up excluding entire segments of our potential audience.

Think about it – if your avatar is a white, middle-class, married mom of two, what message are you sending to the single, BIPOC business owners who could also benefit from your services? Sure, you might argue that this avatar is just an internal tool, but the reality is that it becomes a guiding light for your entire brand. The photos you use, the messaging you craft, even the places you look for clients – it all gets filtered through this narrow lens.

Chasing the Shiny Avatars

I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of this myself. In the early days of my career, I would spend hours meticulously crafting these “perfect” client personas, filling in every detail from their job title to their favorite TV shows. It felt like I was really getting to know my audience, but in reality, I was just chasing a shiny avatar, completely disconnected from the real people I was trying to reach.

As Marianne Williamson once said, “Your playing small does not serve the world.” And that’s exactly what these hyper-specific avatars do – they limit our vision and prevent us from truly connecting with the diverse range of people who could benefit from our expertise.

Focusing on What Matters

So, if we’re done with the avatars, what should we be focusing on instead? According to Jessie Lewis, the key is to hone in on four critical areas:

  1. Who they are (in a general sense) – Get a broad understanding of your target audience, without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.
  2. Their pain points – What problems are they struggling with that you can help solve?
  3. Their desires – What do they want their life to look like, and how can your services help them get there?
  4. Their beliefs – What fears or beliefs do they have about a solution like yours, and what do they need to believe about you and themselves to feel ready to buy?

By focusing on these core elements, you can craft messaging and marketing that truly resonates, without the risk of alienating potential customers. And the best part? You can do all of this without ever having to know how many kids your ideal client has.

Embracing the Diversity of SEO

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But what about niche-ing down? Isn’t that a crucial part of successful SEO?” And you’re not wrong. Narrowing your focus can be incredibly powerful, but there are different ways to do it.

As JP Garbaccio points out, you can niche by audience (serving one group of people in a variety of ways) or by offering (serving a wide variety of people in one key way). And if you fall into that second category, a hyper-specific avatar is going to feel all wrong.

Think about it – if you’re an SEO agency that serves both small businesses and large enterprises, why limit yourself to just one gender or industry? Your expertise is valuable across a diverse range of clients, and trying to shoehorn everyone into a single avatar is only going to hold you back.

The Future of SEO

So, where does this leave us? Well, for starters, it means embracing the diversity of our industry and the ever-evolving needs of our clients. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all marketing strategies. Instead, we need to be nimble, adaptable, and open-minded in our approach.

And you know what? That’s where the real magic happens. When we let go of the dogma and start truly listening to our audience, that’s when we can create content and campaigns that resonate on a deeper level. And that’s the kind of impact an SEO agency in Manchester should be striving for.

As for my website disappearing earlier? Turns out it was just a glitch in the Matrix. But the lesson I learned that day has stuck with me, and it’s one I hope more of my fellow SEO professionals will start to embrace. It’s time to turn SEO on its head and question the dogma. After all, the future of our industry depends on it.

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