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The Easiest Way to Exercise Your lateral thinking skills in SEO

By John Alexander

Definition of Lateral Thinking: Seeking to solve problems by some unorthodox or apparently illogical methods. Exploring multiple possibilities and approaches to a solution or resolve instead of pursuing a single approach alone.

The process of "lateral thinking" or "thinking outside the box" in building higher traffic Web sites is a very valuable asset. By mixing practices of lateral thinking and keyword research research with, you can just tap into unlimited promotional potential for most of your campaigns. If you practice thinking laterally while examining your Web analytics (activity reports) you can make significant differences sometimes with one single move. After all, with a little careful though there may be ways to increase business with the client base you already have, not to mention within the SEO strategies you employ to increase visibility. 

Let's give you an example that just came to mind from past experiences.

I was noticing a load of significant traffic coming in through 3 or 4 of my main pages for this project where a client was selling vitamin type supplements. While there was some good targeted traffic coming in, there were not many sales happening. Often, the most natural things in the world for us to do, is work on those OTHER important pages which are not ranking yet. At one point I stopped to consider the possibility of looking at things another way. 

Was there anything I could possibly do "quickly," that would get this client some new business, while I was in the process of working on getting the other newest pages ranked? I had noticed much of the traffic was coming in on one particularly busy FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. It became apparent that one of the reasons people were coming into this FAQ page was because they had "questions" in their mind about this supplement product which needed answering. (What is the product?, Is it safe?, Was there controversy?)  In other words, I felt they were not ready to buy, but the reason they were flocking to this page was for general information. What other information could I give them that would give them some "peace of mind" about this product? 

With a little research, I added some important detail and background facts that I felt was what they needed to give them more of a comfort level. Then I had some more lateral thought process. I wondered...what if I were to add a quick sales pitch right to that FAQ page directly? Assuming that they would have some new comfort level by reading the new more detailed FAQ information, I wondered if people would buy directly from the FAQ page if we gave them a good reason to. 

What I did was speak to the client about adding a "special offer" directly to this high traffic FAQ page with a couple of ordering options. The "special offer" was not complicated, just an old fashioned pitch for saving X many dollars if you would by a certain quantity in bulk. Show the regular price crossed off with the new "special price in bigger text and a little summary of the savings. Bingo, the sales started flowing in late that evening after edits were made to the FAQ page. 

Thinking "outside the box." 

One of the most difficult things to do is really see your project from your customers eyes and try and think about things from their searchers perspective. Is there anything wrong with making sales directly from the FAQ page? Certainly not as far as I was concerned and not as far as the client was concerned either. One final thing I added was the client's Toll Free phone number and they started getting people phoning in orders too.

Okay so how can you practice exercise more lateral thinking? The key to success is to approach any challenge from a totally alternative angle. Often we get so used to performing SEO strategies in one fashion, we tend to practice the techniques which we are most comfortable with, based on our own past experience. 

When we "brainstorm" or apply a "lateral thinking" approach we must give our minds fuller liberty.

How do you improve at "lateral thinking"?

The easiest way is by "reason of use" and practice (the same as any other skill)

It is a fact that the more you practice anything the better you get. But where is the best places to begin growing and nurturing these methods? 

I can think of a few places as follows:

  • Keyword research
    Try using with lateral thinking which is focused on the "search behavior" of your ideal target audience. Wordtracker is a great working tool for researching keywords and visitor behaviour but it is your "freedom of thought" that can allow you to approach that audience in an alternative fashion. Lateral thinking simply can allow you to see from a vantage point that is more directly from the "minds eye" of the searcher rather than having all your focus on the objective of your client. Listen to my series of free audio tips on Wordtracker.

  • Copywriting
    Write your copy to relate to your ideal target audience. This is not about SEO it's about writing for the human brain. Lateral thinking opens a portal of communication directly in line with your target audiences wave length. Your copy or written dialogue "makes sense" to the reader. Your lateral thinking delivers new approaches so that you can present your products and services and solutions in a fashion that the reader will identify with. Once again, the best way to improve is with practice. Try a reverse approach to your article or story. Are there other "points of view" that a story can be told, other from the first ones that come to thought?  

  • Identifying how you will grow your Web presence
    Lateral thinking can open up all kinds of topics or themes and new ways to grow your Web site visibility.
    Expand your thinking around the new content that your ideal audience is looking for. 

  • Outside of the SEO process
    Lateral thinking can contribute to nearly every aspect to your site's design, look and overall experience.
    Are there alternative ways to use navigation, site functionality and general applications? Of course there are. You just need to explore them. What about lateral thought for your newsletter or information delivery?
    The possibilities are absolutely endless if you allow yourself some liberty to explore. Take some time to make a conscious effort to practice thinking laterally.

Here are a few examples of what lateral thinking can deliver with respect to SEO or search engine marketing:

  • More effective keyword phrase combinations

  • Much more original and more effective Web site content (written to relate to a specific audience)

  • Totally new applications to reach your audience right where they live

  • Lateral thinking can contribute greatly to the impact of your "branding"

  • Much better quantities of traffic

  • Much better quality of traffic

  • Lateral think is what can separate you from the competition by miles 

  • A much richer overall Web experience

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury once wrote: "Life is about trying things to see if they work".

In the world of SEO this is especially true and the great thing is that it is easy to test something and find out.
Lateral thinking should not just be considered a talent, it is actually a skill which can be learned and improved by reason of use. Like anything else, the more you practice, the better you become. 

Now is a great time to exercise your lateral thinking skills for SEO or for whatever project you are currently working on. Start practicing right away today, right now or with your very next project!

Highest regards
John Alexander 


About John Alexander

John Alexander is the Director of Training of Search Engine Workshops and together with his certified team of SEO training Associates at Search Engine Academy, they teach 2-day beginner, 3-day advanced, and 5-day all-inclusive "hands on" search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe. John also teaches online search engine marketing courses through

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