Lee Odden

When SEO Isn’t For Increasing Sales

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, SEO Tips

SEO is a hot topic for Online Marketing blog with the most recent posts, “Rushing Your SEO Doesn’t Mean Quicker Results” and “Should Companies Hire Multiple Search Marketing Firms?”. The next in what is becoming a series of insights into SEO is all about optimizing content for situations that really have little to do with why most SEO firms are hired.

There are various reasons for optimizing content to improve search engine placement of a company’s web site content: The most common and obvious reason directed towards increasing web site traffic and leads/sales. SEO is often used for improving online brand visibility as well.

Companies are increasingly sensitive to the public relations benefits of using search engine optimization to improve search visibility such as:

Progressive corporate PR departments and agencies also use paid search for reputation management or crisis management to quickly provide counter measures to bad publicity or buzz.

An often overlooked content optimization opportunity concerns customer service related information. So much effort is put into optimizing content to “make the sale” or “capture the lead”, but not on making content that is useful to existing customers more easily available.

The on-site search functionality, if there is one, on so many company web sites is so bad that many consumers use the search box on their favorite search engine as a way of navigating websites of companies they do business with. In fact, many employees use search engines like Google to find information that is too difficult or inconvenient to find through on-site search or category navigation.

It’s pretty straight forward to look at a web site’s web analytics to see what kind of queries are driving traffic as well as most popular content to see whether this is the case.

Reducing customer service and support calls is a top priority for many companies looking to reduce costs. Optimizing frequently asked questions, archived customer service Q/A (anonymized), product data, specifications and user manuals can help customers find what they’re “Googling” for before they pick up the phone or send an email.

Few companies hire SEO firms to improve online customer service, but reducing customer support costs plus improving customer satisfaction just small percentage can justify the expense. Add the improved PR and lead/sales generation benefits on top of that and it’s easier to see why optimizing and promoting web site content should be a key component of any online marketing program.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Wil Reynolds says

    Lee, you bring up a great point – while I really like the fact that SEO (and web marketing in general) is such a trackable medium. I can still remember the first time I read that iProspect study (WhitePaper_2006_SearchEngineUserBehavior.pdf)

    That said 36% of the browsing public believed that top rankings indicate a leadership position or top company in the field.

  2. Avatar W.M.Heus says

    Very interesting aspects, Lee and you are right, but for a lot of people incl. firms the dschungle of SEO is simply to big and the contious change of ,for example: Google`s politics, makes it difficult to be up-to-date and find the right decision at the right time

  3. In total agreement Lee. A lot of clients start out sales obsessed because that’s what drives their planning. But once you start talking about the buying cycle and how SEO can help you engage with the customer before they actually are ready to buy, they start to drink the KoolAid.

  4. Thanks Lee for your valuable post.. Keep on doing more..

  5. It seems that web SEO is a matter of evolution. That is, many web sites start as a single-page ad, then begin their evolution by applying some SEO principles to gain traffic, then they try to sell online, then they collect prospect info…It isn’t until the later stages of online evolution that web sites become aware of themselves and their potential to impact various stages of the buying cycle, participate in proactive PR, and provide information for journalists and others…

  6. John, I think that evolution of SEO you speak of is true, especially with those web marketers that treat web site marketing as a process of creating and promoting content with strong attention to analytics.

    As they research ways to expand reach online and truly analyze the needs and interactions of content with distinct audiences, the notion of optimizing specifically for customer support, news, sales or even advertising becomes more clear.

  7. I agree about the stats and queries. Thats where the real research should be done.

  8. I previously had a blog that received most accesses from google search. So I was happy for a moment. But I soon realized that most customers do not come back. That said, focusing on content will help you drive more revenue than trying to sell unattractive contents.


  9. Excellent Article – it highlights the issue of usability and visitors having to revert to search engines to navigate around sites. Sites should be created for users not organizations or sales departments. These considerations will ultimately save organisations money in the long term.

  10. I don’t know about other people how to do SEO on their company site. I just submitted my company site to local web directories [my company deal with local only – waterproofing contractor] and a few large search engine only. Now my company site got a PR2 in the recent Google page rank update. My blog got more links, still has a PR0.
    Hiring a SEO firm to do the SEO for your company? I don’t know that worth it or not. Also, how far the page rank can go by using SEO firm compare to without using.

  11. Andy T I am curious, does the Toolbar PageRank of your home page make you money? I think we can agree the answer is no. What makes you sales is orders for waterproofing.

    SEO consultants provide more than keyword optimization and content promotion, they also help setup analytics to measure what matters – sales.