The phrase “lateral thinking” means the ability to solve a problem using an indirect solution and a creative approach. The ability to use a type of reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involves ideas that may not be applied using a more traditional step-by-step approach. The term was first coined around 1967 by Edward de Bono.
Seeking to solve a problems by using some unorthodox or apparently even an illogical approach does not sound like wisdom immediately, especially in something like trying to build higher traffic to a website.
And yet in many aspects of performing your SEO, there are certainly places where “thinking outside the box” can open new gateways of creativity.
Keyword Research Lateral Thinking
Here is a link to a past article on Keyword Forensics and How To Research Keyword Search Terms That Others Miss.
By mixing practices of lateral thinking and keyword research, you can tap into unlimited promotional potential for most of your campaigns.
Lateral Thinking with Web Analytics
If you practice thinking laterally while examining your web analytics (activity reports) you can make significant differences sometimes within one single move. After all, with a little careful thought, 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 to the idea searching audience.
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 three or four 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, initially. Often, the most natural thing in the world for us to do, is work on those OTHER important pages which are not even being displayed in search results yet.
At one point I stopped to consider the possibility of looking at things a little differently. 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 in the product?
- Was it safe?
- Was there controversy?
In other words, I felt the visitor at this point, had important questions and was not ready to buy, but the reason they were flocking to this FAQ 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 buy 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. (Back in the early days most people would have insisted on trying to move the visitor to a “check out” page.)
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 searching 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.
Practice Your Lateral Thinking
The key to success is to approach any challenge from a totally alternative angle. Often we get so used to performing SEO tasks in one fashion, we tend to practice the techniques which we are most comfortable with, based on “our own past experience.”
However, 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:
- For keyword research try using Wordtracker.com with lateral thinking which is focused on the “search behavior” of your ideal target audience.
- Wordtracker.com is a great working tool for researching keywords and visitor behavior 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.
- 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 audience’s wavelength.
- 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 mind?
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 website visibility. Expand your thinking around the new content that your ideal audience is looking for.
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.
- Write more effective keyword phrase combinations
- Much more original and more effective website 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 thinking is what can separate you from the competition by miles
- Provide a much richer overall website User 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 upon “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.