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Posted on January 29, 2018 | Joe Kahler
Search Engine Optimization has long been a hot ticket strategy in marketing, but far too often it is reduced to its essence: improving your organic rank in search engines. Sure, Google processes 40,000 searches every second; and sure, the top five organic listings account for 67.6 percent of clicks, but don’t let the big, important-seeming numbers blind you.
In an age of integrated marketing, we should demand SEO work in concert with our other efforts to do more for us, because, when treated as an integrative tactic instead of a standalone campaign for position #1 (e.g. the first non-ad result that shows up in a Google search), it surely can. Here are four reasons why.
1. SEO, A Brand’s First Impression
Speaking of things reduced to their essence, an organic search listing is not just a keyword and a position on a page, it is often a customer’s first impression of your brand. Off-the-bat, high search rankings generate instant brand equity. If Google trusts you enough to rank your website towards the top of the first results page, the thinking goes, you must be a big player, even if you’re not. That appearance of authority, and the trust it engenders, is frankly as good as any bylined article.
But you can’t rely on the power of the position alone. What you communicate in your listing matters. Although it is tempting to focus entirely on increasing clickthrough rate, which is a ranking signal, the messaging must remain true to the brand.
Though it may feel like no one reads anymore—scan and click—we cannot stress enough how important this is. Not only do you risk attracting the wrong people to your website, you risk alienating your actual target market. For high-traffic searches, you should put as much thought into the copy as you would into a high-traffic billboard, to both entice action from the user and announce what your brand stands for.
2. SEO, Ally of Consumer Research
Nowhere else on the Web (let alone over the phone or in person) are people more transparent about their needs than in search. When no one’s looking over their shoulder, they search what they want—search practically anything that enters their head—and they do so in the words with which they feel most comfortable. An SEO expert’s job is to sift through the search data to learn what consumers in their market need and how they talk about those needs.
Want to offer a new service? Unsure whether you’re messaging your lowest-performing offering effectively? Ask your SEO expert. They can comb through data from search engines (both searches you receive traffic from and those you don’t), review search results pages, even parse site search data (what users search for within your website), all to uncover the mind of your target market. Nuggets they might uncover include: “when people search x, they’re actually looking for y,” or “people are very interested in z, and it looks like no one else offers that.”
This is especially necessary when it comes to content marketing. Content is best when it addresses a common question or desire people have, and the only way to learn the questions and desires of your consumers is to hear it from their mouths. Reviewing search data lets you do so, while also being cheap, fast, and drawing upon the largest sample size available.
3. SEO, Marketing Multiplier
Interested in exploring some media outreach, maybe some bylined articles? Or perhaps you’re doing a big push around a conference, with sponsorships and swag? With marketing of this sort, which can be pricy and produce little immediately visible results, every little victory matters. Using SEO, you can multiply the benefits of the campaign. If the former, a backlink from a high-authority media source with properly optimized anchor text can do wonders for your organic rank in search and create a new traffic stream to your website. If the latter, you can build up some pre-event visibility by creating content that helps attendees prep for the event.
Or perhaps you’re starting a large advertising campaign? Talk to your SEO expert about how to set up your website to capture the people following up on the ad they’ve seen. We ask questions like: What will they search if they’ve forgotten the name of your brand? Or the name of the offering? Do you have a page set-up to capture those prospects? Or should you plan a complementary campaign of content marketing to capture users searching more general terms who may have also seen your ad (increasing the likelihood they click and convert)?
If you don’t treat SEO as a silo, you can extract more value from the rest of your marketing efforts.
All of which is especially true for the multiplicative effect of SEO on the value of your website. In fact, there’s so much to say about the SEO – Website relationship, although we wrote it out, we couldn’t fit it in this article. If you would like to read more, enter your information below.
Of course, even if you’ve read it a thousand times it bears repeating, ranking well in organic search for search terms relevant to your business is an absolute game-changer for your business. Only don’t lose sight of all the other amazing benefits SEO can provide.
Oh and, before we wrap things, might as well mention that if search traffic matters to you, you shouldn’t expect to get by without search advertising. Where there are ads above organic listings, your brand needs to compete for ad real estate at least some of the time, and even then, not necessarily for the top.
This ensures visibility to all users (esp. those who don’t scroll) and increases total traffic from that search term (paid + organic). It gives you much richer data to work with for guiding your search engine optimization. It even improves the ROI on your SEO; the eye is drawn to the familiar and even a quick ad impression can increase the likelihood of the user choosing your organic listing below.
- Joe Kahler