So what is the best course of action?
Is it just to be really good at one at the expense of the other?
As always, it depends on your business model. However, while focusing on search exclusively at the expense of experience might pay dividends in the short term, it has limitations in the longer term. When you are ranked number one, the only way is down. Search centric strategies also typically mean you end up paying to acquire every single customer, even repeat customers, there’s little focus on building loyalty. Also, the maturing of the search market means that there are limits on the growth that search can deliver. At some stage you will need to become good at both. You’ll need to apply the necessary skills and culture to both.
But wait, didn’t I just say that you can’t combine an F1 car with a Limo? Indeed, I did. The answer is that if you want to perform well in both search and experience, you’ll need to think about building a garage with one of each. That means being clear about the purpose of your pages and taking the right approach for each. As with my client example above, a small number of pages can be optimised to drive a significant amount of traffic, while the rest can be optimised for experience, engagement and retention.
The skill lies in ensuring the right handoff between the two and committing to being at the top of your game in both approaches. It means paying attention to not only content, but also to data, logic, and the businesses processes that govern how your site is architected, the tools you use and how pages are coded, authored and published. It also means building the culture of relentless improvement of both disciplines. It means knowing how to drive the race car as well as the limo.