My very first blog post here at SEO.com was titled SEOs are Marketers Too. I don’t know if I realized how forward thinking this concept was at the time. It seemed pretty natural to me, but as I learned more about this industry, I realized that not many others saw it the same. However, today, if you don’t embrace the concept, you might be doing a poor job at SEO.
With Google and Bing using social media signals in ranking factors, and Google Panda slapping sites with poor content (or for just being generally poor) in addition to implementing machine learning so analytics, structure, and click-through-rates make a big difference, it is more obvious than ever that SEOs are not dealing with just search rankings and keywords.
You not only need to be knowledgeable about SEO and search engines in general, but it is vital that your SEO is fully integrated into your entire marketing strategy. In this post I try to graphically illustrate how search is center stage in online marketing.
Whether it is content marketing, company outreach or PR, site design and development, analytics, or even off-line marketing, it can all be greatly enhanced by the touch of an SEO.
The Search Centric Breakdown
Let’s start with content marketing. Everyone knows that when it comes to search engines, content is king. But are you leveraging that content in the best way possible? Are you maximizing link value from this content? Whether it is content that will exist on an internal property/website or on a third-party site, the content should be maximized and your SEO should be aware that it is hitting the Internet. Guest posts, webinars, podcasts, videos, blogs, forum questions/answers, and whitepapers should all pass through your SEO to ensure that links are properly attributed to keywords and online promotion of the content is beneficial to search strategy.
Company outreach is really becoming a vital part of online marketing teams. Typically handled by the PR department, director of communications, or some other fancy title, it is quickly blending with the SEO team because most company outreach is picked up by the search engines. Public relations is nothing new – the idea of telling stories has been around for more than a century – but the way of getting that story to the masses is completely different than 10 years ago. A good friend of SEO.com, Dan Bischoff mentions that PR is “just starting to see the light when it comes to SEO benefit. In fact, most PR agencies don’t even get it.”
Beyond that, PR doesn’t just cover press releases and news interviews. There’s this thing called social media that is taking businesses by storm. And that social media marketing also affects search rankings. So is it important for your SEO to be involved in your company outreach?
Site Design & Development
There is no easier way to say this than: Google is learning what good design is. And it plays into your search rankings.
If it looks and feels like a site from the '90s it will be negatively affected by search engines. If it takes too long to load, it will be negatively affected. If the code is so bad that search engines choke on it, yeah, it will be negatively affected. Branding, conversion rates, and the number of ads on the site all affect the search engine rankings.
Because of the Panda update from Google, too many bad pages with useless content and poor structure will bring down your site. Your SEO needs to be involved in your site design, your site structure, and your development code, because they know what the search engines like.
Rand Fishkin does a brilliant job explaining how Panda forever changed SEO. It can be summed up in two words: “Machine Learning.” This new, shiny piece of the algorithm gives Google the ability to start pulling patterns from analytic and quality identifiers. Conversion rates, bounce rates, time on site, and click-through rates can all be measured by Google. With machine learning, Panda then recalculates these metrics and compares and reshuffles the results based on what it learned from these users' experience metrics.
In the future, I think Google will put a lot of money into figuring out what people are doing off line. This is already evident with their social media push through Google+, but I expect it to become more of a focus. This focus will also include knowing what businesses are doing off line as well. Find ways to let search engines know what you are doing off line.
Integrate your marketing campaign to take advantage of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other search engines. Integrate your off-line marketing with your PR team. The ultimate goal of your off-line campaigns should be to create brand advocates who will generate content on your behalf. Search engines see this, understand it, and promote you because of your fan base. Off-line marketing is enhanced by online aspects, and your SEO needs to be involved.
Feed the Search
Ultimately, Google and Bing are working hard to maintain position as “center of the web,” and the best thing to do is feed these search engines from all different angles. As an online marketing manager, it is crucially important that your marketing campaigns are search centric.
As an SEO, it is important to understand that you are a marketer as well. Successful SEOs maximize marketing campaigns to feed the search. It’s no longer just keywords and link mongering, it’s online marketing 2011.
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