Creative use of search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary for business success. That’s not debatable in 2023. What is up for discussion is the methodology brands use to maximize the results of their SEO efforts fully. For the better part of two decades, marketers have preferred to let keywords guide content, drive traffic, and capture leads from organic search. That approach can still be effective, but SEO has recently experienced some exciting evolutions that do a much better job of putting customers at a company’s core.
Consider product-led SEO, which leverages content by letting a brand’s product speak directly to its desired customers and audiences. This advanced approach to SEO folds search behavior data into the product-development process. Product-led SEO’s goal is to make your current offerings visible to search engines and discover what improvements or other products your target audience is looking for. Product-led SEO, in other words, can provide powerful insights into what you should be offering your users next — according to those very users.
Done correctly, product-led SEO creates a snowball effect, similar to the compounding results experienced in growth loops. With data-backed insights applied to product development, you can create exciting new features and offerings that customers want and drive more people to your site, improving your SEO in the process. You can then continue your product-led approach to discover what users like and dislike about new offerings and where to evolve from there. It’s a more intentional and organic approach to SEO.
How Does the Product-Led Approach Look in Action?
According to a number of different studies, companies that take a product-led approach have higher gross margins and more revenue growth than their competitors. These companies also have double the median enterprise value when compared with the public SaaS index.
For example, the majority of Zapier’s unbranded traffic comes from the company’s blog. Zapier offers a wide array of integrations that make it possible for different apps to work together to automate all kinds of workflows. The company’s blog is mostly focused on the different use cases of these integrations. By consistently trying to deliver quality information that its audience wants to see, Zapier not only drives traffic to its site but also discovers new ways in which people are looking to use its integrations. This information can then be put into action, creating better services for a wider variety of customers.
Grubhub is another example of a company whose user experience is directly tied to its product-led SEO strategy. The company has built a specialized menu of site sections based on food type, delivery time, cost, etc., that help people find exactly what they want to eat. As Grubhub continues to expand and test its roster of landing pages, the company is learning more about what people are looking for. This then informs Grubhub about what restaurants to pursue in specific locations and how to best organize information based on where people are searching. As customers are delighted with the product’s experience, habits are created supporting growth.
A product-led SEO strategy is good for business because it’s good for users:
84% of customers consider the user experience to be just as important as the product itself.
By putting the customer first, businesses can deliver a superior user experience that people notice and appreciate. There’s a simple, inarguable reason that so many companies are taking advantage of product-led SEO to drive organic traffic to their sites and bring in new customers: It works.
How to Make a Product-Led Strategy Work for You
A product-led SEO approach will look different for every company, but all will center its focus on the user. By adopting the simple SEO strategy of delivering what your audience wants, you can delight customers and continue to grow your business at a healthy pace.
Like anything worth doing, putting a product-led SEO strategy into practice can be a challenge. Here are the best ways to avoid the most common mistakes:
- Don’t skip over critical A/B testing. Also known as split testing, this instrumental process provides actionable data on whether a proposed change or modification achieved its desired outcome. It can be tempting to forgo the rigorous process of A/B testing in favor of broad statistics based on keyword rankings and customer behavior. Fight that temptation, as this type of generalized information doesn’t provide specific insights or inspire any real guidance. Split testing will tell you how your actual users really feel and allow you to pivot when necessary.
- Perform the right kind of split testing. Not all A/B testing is created equal. While a good rule of thumb for A/B testing is “the more, the better,” that might not be possible if you can only manage a limited number of tests. If that’s the case, go bold. Don’t spend your time testing small changes in wording or UI tweaks. Focus on changes that are likely to make a measurable impact to your North Star metrics. Then work what you find into the next iteration of products and marketing materials.
- Optimize for a solution, not a feature. Because SEO has not traditionally been a part of the product-development process, it can be easy to get carried away with creating new features. Remember: SEO should be influencing products, not the other way around. The power of product-led SEO is that it can tap into users’ practical desires, use cases, and concerns while helping you avoid pushing features on customers that they don’t actually need. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that SEO is truly viewed as an indispensable part of development.
Long gone are the days when SEO was all about gaming the system to achieve better rankings for your list of targeted keywords. To be truly effective, modern SEO tactics need to prioritize the customer. In letting the product lead the way, you’ll increase your site traffic while growing your product by aligning with customer value.