‘Product-Led SEO’ book review: A blueprint for leveraging SEO for organic growth

Eli Schwartz outlines a comprehensive approach to incorporating SEO into product development to help propel growth via search engines.

Eli Schwartz, a growth advisor to top Internet brands, begins his book, Product-Led SEO, with this disclaimer.

The publisher and author make no guarantees concerning the level of success you may experience by following the advice and strategies contained in this book, and you accept the risk that results will differ for each individual.

Introduction, Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy

The disclaimer reminded me of what Dave Snyder, CEO of CopyPress, used to say at internet marketing conferences when someone would share little known SEO strategies and tactics.

Be careful what you share, because people may burn down their site or a client’s site if they don’t fully understand what they’re doing why they’re doing.

Paraphrased from memory, but mostly correct 😉

Schwartz’s disclaimer is a good reminder that SEO strategies aren’t an exact science, and most people will experience different results. Also, the book doesn’t contain any strategies or tactics that I believe would make Snyder sound the alarm 🚨. Instead, it delves into one of the best organic growth strategies for brands whose sites are the product.

What is Product-Led SEO?

Product-led SEO’s initial premise is to stop chasing the algorithm, focus on the user, and leverage one’s product for SEO. Schwartz specifically calls out keyword research as a fool’s errand (my words, not his) compared to primarily focusing on the needs and interests of the user. The appropriate keywords and content will come naturally, including ones that would have been missed if the approach was solely focused on keyword research.

Keyword-based SEO is limited and inadequate, and there is a better way.

Page 56, Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy

Schwartz encourages the reader to focus on all of the ways their product could be described and used? He says we don’t necessarily need keyword research for that. If you fully understand the product, you can extract everything you need to know for content creation. You can identify the pain points it solves, what it’s related to, and more.

However, at the core of product-led SEO is the premise that SEO should be an integral part of the product. Schwartz says, “SEO should be viewed as a Product in and of itself.” He provides examples of how popular sites have used this approach and how it fueled explosive growth for those companies.

Product-led SEO is a broad strategy that can affect how a product is made or the catalyst for developing new products.

Schwartz encourages the reader to focus on the periphery. Find out where potential customers are and study what they’re talking about. Then update the product or create something new that solves an initial problem. The result will be brand awareness, and the core product will be well-positioned to solve the user’s next problem.

A personal story of product-led SEO

While I didn’t have a name for it, in 2006, I was already doing a form of product-led SEO. I had a digital marketing agency called Sitening, and we made a tool called the SEO Analyzer. It was designed from the ground up to be optimized for search engines. The tool was free to use and didn’t require an account. Any site analyzed had a crawlable report, and users were encouraged to link to the report via a dynamically created score badge.

SEO Analyzer
SEO Analyzer tool by Sitening

The tool was a wild success and resulted in tens of thousands of backlinks, which helped our site rank incredibly well. More importantly, we were inundated with new business.

Building upon the success of the tool, we created more tools. The most popular tool was the SERP Tracker, the first automated rank tracking web app.

SERP Tracker
Automated rank tracking tool, SERP Tracker by Sitening

Ultimately, those tools became Raven Tools and we stopped doing agency work to focus 100% on the product. Raven, along with other projects (GA Config, Schema Creator, and others), was 100% the result of product-led SEO.

Who is Product-Led SEO for?

Product-Led SEO isn’t for everyone. These are the professionals that I think would benefit the most from reading Product-Led SEO:

“Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy” is available at Amazon.com.

4
4 out of 5

What I liked most

  • Excellent introduction to SEO
  • Clearly explains the efficacy and importance of incorporating SEO into the product lifecycle
  • Comprehensive outline of how and where to include SEO into the product

Could be better

  • A high-level view of SEO practices that requires an experienced practitioner or further reading to implement

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @henshaw