Bringing the 80/20 rule to SEO

When something has been around for the best part of a century and it won’t go away, you know there must be something in it.

The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) is the simple idea that 20% of what we do has 80% of the outcome.

Or in other words for everything we do in business 20% will produce 80% of the profit.

So would it not be better to do something different with the 80% of what is wasted time?

The world’s largest marketing budget

No matter the company and their financial position, they will only command a finite amount of resources. In short, there will always be more to do then you have either time or money available.

So no matter if you are a large or small company you face the same limitations. The only real difference is with a larger company and budget, you have more room to do more of it. (Both the 80 and 20)

Making a start

Before we can talk about harnessing 80/20 we need to understand what we are doing at the moment. How close are we to the 80/20 rule? Perhaps we are ahead of the curve or behind, but without understanding where we are, we can’t possibly make a sensible change.

For a traditional company, we might look at our marketing budget, and see how each type of advert performs. How can we do this? The simplest solution is to tie in an offer code.

In other words, each time someone claims an offer, we know that form of advertising has been successful.

By comparing the results with different types of advertising, we can craft, test and change our outcomes.

The online world

With the online world, the platform may be different, but we can use the same methodology, but instead of using an offer code, we can tie different forms of advertising into different landing pages on our website.

In short, if we run a promotion on Facebook, for instance, we will get click-through statistics from Facebook and from looking at Analytics we can see how many people have made the journey from the ‘landing page’ to conversion.

For this to be successful it’s worth setting up a new page for each offer. Without this, it becomes harder to track which method has actually generated our sales.

SEO and 80/20

With SEO the execution changes, but not the methodology. In short, we want to concentrate our SEO on the 20% of pages generating 80% of our sales…

Or in plain language, we might want landing pages for every location or product we cover, but because we only have a finite budget and time, it makes sense to prioritise the pages that create the largest wealth.

Wealth is the important factor here. If our grab was purely for customers, we might end up having to serve more customers for less turnover. This means not only are we making less money, but the cost for us to support that larger customer base is higher.

You just need to look at the recent chaos at Ryanair to see what happens when you don’t make enough money per customer and something goes wrong.

Picking your fights

With SEO it’s about finding the key phrases that have enough traffic to justify the work and also don’t have a massively amount of competition.

Or in other words, if you are a Sole Trader with no real budget to build a substantial amount of links, pay for SEO professionals and write lots of creative content, trying to promote a page which is already being marketed by companies like Amazon and eBay, means you’re never going to win.

Local SEO tends to work well for companies who can identify a few phrases and locations which describe what they do or the services they provide.

An example

John is a plumber who lives in a small village near a larger town just outside a large city.

John’s website has only been going for a few months and has no real track record with Google.

Although the small village won’t really provide any work, he will find it easy to rank on the first page.

If John tries to target the town, there is more competition, but more searches, maybe he gets on the second page

If John tried to target the city, it’s worse still and if he hits the top 50 he will be lucky.

John knows that Google does not like multiple pages with the same content and he has heard the fewer phrase he optimises for, the more success he will have.

So for John at the moment, his ambitions should stay at the village level. As he becomes more established and can afford to spend more on marketing he can then think of marketing at the town and city level.

In this example, the village won’t bring in enough work, so some of his marketing budgets need to go on other forms of marketing.

For Tom who owns a larger company which has been going for years and is turning a good profit, he will look to target the locations where he can get the most work from… (Methodology will be the same, but he will have more factors to consider.)

In summary

The 80/20 rule can be a useful tool to allow us to think in terms of what we can do to get the biggest effect with the smallest effort.

It won’t fix everything but will allow us breathing space to understand the journey we are all on.