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SEO, PageRank, and the Landing Page MVP

Landing Page MVP launch tomorrow
Quicksand for online marketing newbies

Here is a question that I got from a member of my audience: “How to improve page rank of my landing page MVP?”

So the question relates to the algorithm Google uses to figure out what page to display when preparing search results for particular keywords. That’s what Search Engine optimization (SEO) is. And PageRank is a key part of SEO. PageRank’s a patent Google has. It’s based on a system similar to how academic citations work.

If a lot of pages refer back to your page, then your page is considered more authoritative. So your page should rank higher. Now–to be completely transparent, I don’t consider myself good at SEO. In terms of SEO tactics, I can give you advice I’ve heard elsewhere, but I don’t think that’ll be useful. But I can tell you how I think about it strategically, as it’s easy to hire someone to do SEO tactics if you think it’s worth it.

Easy to hire someone to do SEO tactics if you think it's worth it. Click To Tweet

With a landing page MVP, your goal is to prove that demand exists for a product. This means that you are assuming that you have ready access to an audience. If you are using SEO, or at least trying to use SEO to acquire traffic, be ready to wait. Patiently.

What do I mean by that?

Well, SEO is a long game.

If you can get Google to rank you on relevant keywords on the first page, then you will have streams of free traffic–without requiring much more effort from you. To get there, you need to put in months if not year of effort. The way that I understand it nowadays, there are really three parts to SEO:

1. make sure there are no major errors on your page or website, and have lots of internal links
2. have lots of external links pointing back to your site, ideally using keywords which are relevant
3. create high quality content which humans read, as google tracks how long your audience stays on the page and watches what you do

Page rank is Google’s way of measuring your success in #2. For example, let’s say you have a blockchain startup. You are involved in a lot of thought leadership, largely because you want to build up a free traffic stream. If a lot of other websites point back to your site with links using keywords like “block chain” and “bit coin” and other topical areas, over time you will be ranked for keywords related to these topics.

While it’d be great to have a big traffic stream, if you want to use this traffic to test out demand for a product, you’ll have to already have it first.

And that takes a long time to build.

For example, the team at Mind the Product were involved with content creation on a large scale for about 3 years before they started seeing measurable results. The created a community of product manager.

Those community members contributed articles to bolster the Mind the Product efforts. Some of the team here in London were simultaneously building out ProdPad, which is a commercial software tool for product managers–the same audience.

While the SEO efforts eventually started contributing massive marketing results for both Mind the Product and subsequently ProdPad, they didn’t provide a context to do landing page MVP testing in the traditional sense. Because they would have had to work for 3+ years before they got to the point where they had enough relevant traffic to do demand testing.

It's a lot smarter to start with paid traffic, if you can afford it. Click To Tweet

I think it’s a lot smarter to start with paid traffic, if you can afford it.

You can get immediate market feedback on your value proposition and your product, without committing to a multi-year community building effort which is eventually rewarded by Google. That said, if you do prove that a particular idea makes sense using paid advertising, then it makes sense to push ahead. Then focus on SEO. Build a community around your product idea.

Use SEO to reduce customer acquisition costs instead

Two friends of mine run an electronic piano e-commerce business. They played with paid advertising and some video-based content marketing on Facebook. Once they realized exactly what keywords converted, for example “Yamaha london” gave them a decent conversion rate of 13% (requiring 7.6 clicks on average to make a sale), it made sense to look at SEO. At that point, they used SEO to lower their customer acquisition costs.

 

Instead of paying let’s say $1/click on “Yamaha london”, they built out their SEO strategy. They ended up ranking on the first page for this keyword.

 

So suddenly, their cost of acquisition went to down from $7.69 to zero on this keyword.

Personally, I would argue looking at PageRank is a later stage growth task to help bring down relevant acquisition cost, but first figure out if you’re building a product that’s attractive to your audience.

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