The 5 W’s of SEO

Written by Nick Stamoulis

SEO is a form of marketing and just like any good marketing program, you need to understand certain things before you can be successful with it. One way to look at it is that you should have a clear understanding of the who, what, where, when, and why before you can get anywhere good. The more knowledge you have before you start your SEO program the more likely you are to build something that will be a long-term success. Here’s a look at what we mean:


It’s marketing 101: who are your customers? But more importantly, who are they online? What sites do they visit the most? How do they approach their research process? What kind of content do they consume? Are they the decision makers or the influencers in their organization? Where do they sit in their organization and how much power do they have when it comes to implementing changes for a better SEO program? The more you know about who you are trying to reach the better you can build your SEO program to meet their needs and expectations.


What answers are your customers looking for online? What are their pain points and problems? What do they struggle with in terms of customer acquisition? Knowing what your customers needs/wants are helps you write better content, which is what the search engines use to help push the right people through to your site.

Also, what are customers expecting to find when they come to your site? What does the customer experience of your site need to be to live up to those expectations? SEO doesn’t end once a searcher comes to your site, you need to continue to guide them through the onsite buying process and turn someone from a searcher into a lead into a customer. A bad website can ruin a good SEO program real fast, turning off what should have been incredibly qualified leads.


Where do your customers live online? This is essential to your long-term link building and link-earning program because those links are doorways into your site. You want to make sure your site and your brand is well represented everywhere your potential customers go. What blogs do they read? What LinkedIn groups do they belong to? What sites do they visit when they have questions about their industry? If you know where your potential customers are you can craft your SEO program about putting your site right in front of them.


When do people care about your services? There is seasonality to every business. It may not be as obvious as “Christmas tree farms” (no one cares until after Thanksgiving), but people are probably going to care about your products/services more at certain times of the year than others. This is important to know so that you don’t panic when traffic dips one month. It doesn’t mean your SEO program is failing; it simply means there are fewer people looking for what you have to offer at that moment! A huge part of having a successful SEO program means managing expectations—you have to know when you should expect things to slow down so you don’t think the world is coming to an end when really it’s just a part of doing business.


Okay, I realize that the fifth W is typically “why,” but I thought it was really important to mention “how” as well. How people search is incredibly important because if you don’t understand how people look for information regarding your services/products than the best SEO program in the world will never get off the ground; you could be betting on the wrong horse! It doesn’t matter what you want to be called/what you think your audience calls you; you need to know how people truly are searching. The best thing you can do is compare two terms using Google Trends and see which one is more popular. For instance, until 2010 they were called “UAVs,” but now the overwhelming search volume is around “drones.” If a company continues to sell UAVs then they are shouting into the void and completely missing the mark. Fish where the fish are the use the terms that your customers use to find your site.

By nailing down the answers to these five simple questions, you can formulate a truly effective SEO plan.

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