Over the past few years SEO has made a resurgence in the world of digital marketing. It’s not because SEO stopped working or was no longer relevant, but more so because it was previously ignored. After the major update known as Hummingbird, many companies that once outsourced their SEO to less than reputable companies, found that many of their “black hat” tactics no longer worked. As Google and the other major search engines have evolved, so has the role of SEO. SEO can no longer be done in a silo. It must be integrated into the digital marketing strategy as a whole.
Today’s consumer is overwhelmed with messages. Whether it comes from traditional sources like radio and TV or the internet via social and search ads, marketing is everywhere. Because of this neverending marketing and sales cycle, people have generally become much better at ignoring the noise.
That’s why many in the industry say that a brand needs 6-8 touches before they become a viable sales lead. In an article from SalesForce, they explain, “Today’s consumers are also increasingly immune to traditional advertising and sales methodologies, meaning they conduct more independent research and take more convincing before they’re sold on making a purchase.’
In order to reach customers more effectively, many brands today are opting for an omni-channel marketing strategy. This is not to be confused with multi-channel marketing. John Bowden, Senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable put it this way
“Multi-channel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!”
While many brands use multiple channels to reach out, very few ensure that the hand-off and interactions between the channels are fluid. This results in a disjointed experience and engagement drop off. So you may be asking, what does SEO have to do with all this?
I want to draw your attention to one part of the quote from the SalesForce article I referenced above.
“They (consumers) conduct more independent research and take more convincing before they’re sold on making a purchase.”
Today’s consumers have nearly endless amounts of information available to them in the palm of their hand. Of all the activities that users perform before making a purchase, search is at the top of the list.
Now, this is just a quick snapshot of all the stats and if you need more, check out this article I did. Anyhow, you can see that people choose search when they need a solution. Because of this fact, SEO is essential for success.
Even with the great rise of content and inbound marketing, many in the digital space have looked at SEO as a one-time technical aspect. Many believe all you need to do is add the correct meta information and markup and you are good to go. Reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
While there are many technical aspects to SEO, none of them are a “set it and forget it” type task. Instead, good SEO takes into account both technical and non-technical tactics of digital marketing and helps align them around the searcher's intent. When done well, a site will not only rank but drive relevant traffic.
The goal of omni-channel is to have a seamless transition from one channel to another. This creates a consistent experience for the user, builds trust and helps them achieve their goals. Just like users are overwhelmed with messaging, marketers are overwhelmed with platforms. Because there is so much to manage, it’s easy to overlook the transitions between channels. Since search is one of the first places potential customers come in contact with a brand, this transition is one of the most important of all.
In 2013 Google re-engineered their algorithm in order to place more emphasis on user-intent. Instead of relying predominantly on keywords, Google was looking at the meaning behind the term or question a user was using. Needless to say, this shook up the ranking quite a bit.
In order to rank for a term, your site page had to match the users intent. This means the search result needed to meet the searcher's expectation. In my opinion, this was a great move. Just think about anytime you search something, clicked a link and the page you landed on had nothing of value. This is what Google is trying to fix.
When a user searches for a solution via Google they are presented with about 10 links and some other options like videos, images or a knowledge card. They then need to choose an option based on a limited amount of information.
Now, if your search listing has a compelling title as well as an action-oriented call-to-action and the other choices do not, your chance of getting clicked is much greater. This is one simple example of how SEO can help you engage new visitors. But it doesn’t stop there. Once the viewer lands on your site page, Google is still paying attention to the user's actions. If they bounce and choose another site, you will be seen as less relevant.
If SEO is performed in a silo, you may feel as if they did their job. Technically, they got the ranking and it resulted in a website visit. But the truth is SEO doesn’t stop with the search results.
In omni-channel marketing, the SEO, Web Developer and Content Manager must align what they are doing not just to get the click, but meet or exceed the expectations of their potential users. When these actions are performed independently, the reality is, business results suffer.
Marketing in today’s world can seem overwhelming. While there is more noise, there are still many ways that marketing can be done fluidly to generate results. Omni-channel marketing helps brands build consistency in their messaging across channels which results in more authentic connections. While SEO was once one of many tactics, it is now essential to the success of all other aspects of digital marketing. When done in collaboration with other digital tactics, the return on investment in SEO increases exponentially.
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