SEO works much better when you don’t have to create the content yourself.
But for that to work, you need to build SEO into your product.
Companies that understand this principle have much higher chances to grow SEO traffic at scale.
1. Identify the Jobs-to-be-Done
When building SEO into a product, you need to understand what jobs people can use it for, which is very related to the core problem you initially set out to solve.
However, you should also look at smaller problems your product solves.
Make a list of all these problems.
2. Match Product Content with Exposable Content
Your product needs to develop, create, or aggregate some sort of content searchers can find through Google and other search engines.
This is often related to user-generated input: reviews, curations, posts, boards, etc.
For example, reviews or votes allow you to aggregate data, visualize it, and expose it to search engines. You can also create the inventory yourself, say for local services or shoppable inventory for ecommerce.
3. Define a Scalable Taxonomy
You need to define how you classify your product’s data or content.
At this point, you build a logical and scalable architecture out of categories, sub-categories, and instances or products. You can also opt for a flat architecture as social networks do with hashtags.
In most cases, this step is pre-defined by the architecture of your product and how people use it.
4. Decide How Much of the User Experience You Can Expose
Look at how much of the user experience you can expose in a useful way.
You can’t give away the whole product for free unless you use an ad model.
The goal here is to convert visitors to sign-ups by gating the full experience.
It’s a balancing act.
5. Validate User Intent
Finally, you need to validate that your content satisfies user intent.
Check if the keywords you target have search demand and whether you can solve the problem people are looking out to solve.
For example, Pinterest boards inspire people. G2 reviews help them evaluate software. Notion templates help them customize their own pages.
We’re coming full-circle to the Jobs-to-Be-Done framework, as you can see.
Let me give you another example.
Doordash is a 3-sided marketplace of customers, restaurants, and drivers. Since customers initiate the value chain and nobody searches for drivers, indexing restaurants is the most logical choice.
Since restaurants are tied to a locale, Doordash classifies them by city and the type of restaurant.
The user intent is finding a specific kind of food in close proximity or looking for inspiration for what to eat. Designing and developing their product in that way worked out really well for Doordash.
It’s All About Loops
The goal of building SEO into a product is to attract new users through organic search.
But it doesn’t stop there.
You also want them to sign up for your product and add value to your product. That will then lead to more content and sign-ups from users.
In other words, you need to build an acquisition loop.
Also known as “flywheels,” acquisition loops are self-reinforcing systems.
For example, a user builds a public Trello board, it ranks on Google, searchers find it, sign-up, and set up their own board.
To measure the success of SEO, we need to look at it from that kind of holistic perspective. It’s what I call “Organic Growth” – the intersection of growth and SEO.